Slick operation convincing high end foreign investors prominent Americans are involved - how would the Chinese foreigner ever find out it was all a scam. Didn't work out,they have been indicted.
Florida Attorney Leslie R. Evans, Developer Charged in Connecticut With Immigrant Investor Fraud
The pair allegedly stole money meant for a Palm Beach condo-hotel project and misled investors into thinking prominent people, including now-President Donald Trump, would be involved in the development.
A Connecticut grand jury indicted a real estate attorney and a developer on charges of defrauding visa seekers who invested in a South Florida condo-hotel project.
Attorney Leslie R. Evans and developer Robert Matthews were arrested Thursday and appeared in West Palm Beach federal court to face 20 counts of fraud and money laundering in New Haven, Connecticut.
Federal officials allege the pair took investor money meant to fund the Palm House Hotel project, and used it for personal gain. They also allegedly misled investors to believe well-known entertainers, politicians and businesspeople, including now-President Donald Trump, would be involved in the project.
The project was part of the EB-5 visa program, which allows foreign investors to secure green cards by funding job-creating projects in the U.S. EB-5 fraud often puts investors’ immigration status at risk, as seen in Vermont’s Jay Peak ski resort scheme, which also had ties to South Florida.
The alleged scheme has been the subject of litigation since at least 2016, when more than 50 investors in the Palm House project alleged they were defrauded of $50 million. The plaintiff investors were Chinese and Iranian.
The investor funds flowed through the EB-5 intermediary South Atlantic Regional Center LLC in Palm Beach, which was not involved in the scheme, according to the indictment. Matthews, Evans and other co-conspirators then allegedly moved the funds through bank accounts in Connecticut and Florida. Some of the investor money came through Evans’ client trust account.
“The funds were used to pay Robert Matthews’ credit card debts, to assist in Matthews’ purchase of a 151-foot yacht, and to purchase two properties located in Washington Depot, Connecticut,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut said in a statement. “One of the Washington Depot properties was a property that Robert Matthews had previously lost in foreclosure.”
Evans, 70, was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1984 and has no disciplinary history in the past decade. He leads the six-attorney real estate law firm Leslie Robert Evans & Associates in Palm Beach. Evans was released from custody Thursday on a $250,000 bond.
Matthews, 60, had homes in both Connecticut and Florida. He bought the Palm House Hotel property in 2006 but lost it in foreclosure a few years later. In 2013, he bought the property again through a limited liability company that listed his brother, Gerry Matthews, as a 99 percent owner. Another financier owned the remaining 1 percent. In reality, according to the indictment, Robert Matthews controlled the company.
Matthews was detained ahead of a hearing next week.
According to the 2016 lawsuit, the investors’ immigration agents were taken to Mar-A-Lago to take photos with Trump, whom they were told would be on the Palm House Hotel Advisory Board. “There is no such board,” the lawsuit claimed.
The investors were told the advisory board would also include former President Bill Clinton, Celine Dion, Bill Koch and Eric Schmidt, the lawsuit alleged.
The lawsuit is pending before U.S. Senior District Judge Kenneth Marra in West Palm Beach.
EB-5 fraud scheme in Palm Beach lands development team in jail
Funds were allegedly used to buy homes, luxury cars, a yacht and to pay off personal debt
160 Royal Palm Way and Robert V. Matthews and Les Evans (Credit: Google, Delray Beach, GoCPG.org and Leslie Robert Evans & Associates, PA)
Palm Beach developer Robert Matthews and real estate attorney Leslie R. Evans have been charged with fraud for their involvement in a real estate scam that swindled $50 million from about 50 Chinese and Iranian investors in recent years.
The scam redirected EB-5 funds intended for a Palm Beach condo-hotel project at 160 Royal Palm Way, according to the Palm Beach Daily News. Each investor provided $500,000, the minimum amount required to be eligible for a visa through the EB-5 investor program.
But instead of remaining in the developers’ escrow account, the $50 million investment was allegedly “improperly transferred” to other accounts, the Palm Beach Daily News reported, citing a lawsuit. The suit alleges the EB-5 funds were used to buy homes, luxury cars, a yacht and to pay off personal debt.
The indictment charges Matthews with eight counts of wire fraud, one count of bank fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud, and 10 counts of illegal monetary transactions. Evans was charged with eight counts of wire fraud, one count of bank fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud, and one count of illegal monetary transactions.
The development, meanwhile, is still unfinished. Cary Glickstein, who is also the mayor of Delray Beach, was appointed by a judge to oversee the completion of the Palm House project. At the council meeting, Glickstein said he’s also considering selling the property to a developer. [Palm Beach Daily News] – Amanda Rabines
Source: The Real Deal