SEC Files Emergency Action in a $150 Million Investment Scheme

SEC v. A Chicago Convention Center, LLC, Anshoo Sethi, and Intercontinental Regional Center Trust of Chicago, LLC, Case No. 13-cv-982 (E.D. Ill.).  On February 8, 2013, the SEC announced charges and an asset freeze against Anshoo Sethi, A Chicago Convention Center (“ACCC”) and Intercontinental Regional Center Trust of Chicago (“IRCTC”) in connection with an alleged investment scheme to defraud foreign investors seeking profitable returns and a legal path to U.S. residency through a federal visa program.  The SEC alleges that Sethi and his companies ACCC and IRCTC  sold more than $145 million in securities and obtained $11 million in administrative fees from investors mostly from China.  Sethi and his companies told investors they were buying interests in ACCC and that they were financing construction of the “World’s First Zero Carbon Emission Platinum LEED certified” hotel and conference center.  Investors were also told the investments would improve their prospects for U.S. citizenship through the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Pilot Program, which provides foreign investors an avenue to U.S. residency by investing in domestic projects that will create or preserve a minimum number of jobs for U.S. workers.  According to the SEC, Sethi lied to investors by telling them he had all the necessary permits and backing for the project.  They also gave falsified documents to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) – the federal agency that administers the EB-5 program – in an attempt to secure the agency’s preliminary approval of the project and investors’ provisional visas.  The SEC’s complaint alleges that Sethi, ACCC, and IRCTC violated Section 17(a) of the Securities Act and Section 10(b) of the Exchange Act and Rule 10b-5.  In addition to the temporary restraining order and asset freeze granted by the court, the SEC seeks permanent injunctions and other monetary relief.

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