The proposal was simple: invest $500,000 toward the construction of a therapy center for cancer patients in southern California and in a few years become a citizen of the United States.
The reality: Securities and Exchange Commission allegations that the couple leading the project misused two-thirds of the $27 million they raised from 50 Chinese investors and never built the center.
The case of Pacific Proton Therapy is the latest involving allegations of fraud with the EB-5 investor visa program that requires a $1 million investment that creates 10 jobs, or $500,000 if the project is located in a so-called Targeted Employment Area (TEA) with high unemployment.
If everything goes as planned, it is a win-win for the investor who gets U.S. residency and then citizenship, and the company that gets a cheap loan for a new project. But Pacific Proton is emblematic of what some lawmakers in Congress say are necessary reforms to a program that has strayed from its original purpose.
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