Former Tribune Tower owner sued again — this time by feds
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Another legal blow was dealt this week to Thomas Henderson, an Oakland businessman known for owning the iconic Tribune Tower and I. Magnin building.
The Securities and Exchange Commission, in a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday, alleges Henderson amassed much of his business empire by using an “ elaborate shell game” to siphon off money from Chinese investors intended to create local jobs.
Instead, Henderson and his company, San Francisco Regional Center LLC, used $9.7 million of the investors’ money to purchase downtown Oakland properties including the tower and open and operate two restaurants, the fraud suit said. His $1.4 million Oakland home was purchased using $346,000 of the funds.
Henderson, using mostly Chinese investors, raised $107 million since 2010. The money from 217 investors was supposed to be used to open and operate call centers, a grocery store, a dairy processing business and a skilled nursing facility under the EB-5 visa program. The program is a way for foreign nationals to qualify for a U.S. visa if they make an investment of $500,000 in a project that creates at least 10 jobs.