The Securities and Exchange Commission has charged an Orange County-based attorney with defrauding Chinese investors and using their money to buy a yacht and prop up his other businesses.
In a civil suit filed Tuesday, the SEC alleges that Newport Beach lawyer Emilio Francisco raised $72 million between 2013 and September this year from 131 investors who were seeking to participate in the federal EB-5 visa program, which allows foreign investors to apply to permanently live and work in the U.S. in exchange for investments in projects that create American jobs.
The EB-5 program, which began in 1990, has faced scrutiny recently over its potential for fraud.
The SEC said Francisco solicited the funds through his Costa Mesa-based marketing firm PDC Capital and told investors their money would go to EB-5 projects that included opening Caffe Primo restaurants, developing assisted living facilities, and renovating a production facility for environmentally friendly agriculture and cleaning products.
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