LOS ANGELES (CN) - A Los Angeles immigration attorney and his cronies took $11 million from clients under false pretenses, the SEC claims in court.
The SEC sued Justin Moongyu Lee, his wife Rebecca Taewon Lee, his law firm partner Thomas Edward Kent, and five of Lee's companies on Wednesday, in Federal Court.
Federal prosecutors in Los Angeles filed parallel criminal charges against Justin Lee, the SEC said.
Lee led the scheme that took nearly $11.5 million from two dozen investors who sought U.S. residency through the EB-5 program, which allows immigrants to apply for green cards by investing in businesses that create U.S. jobs, the SEC said.
"The Lees and Kent informed investors that they would be EB-5 eligible if they invested in an ethanol production plant they would build and operate in Ulysses, Kan.," the SEC said in a statement. "However, investors' money was misappropriated for other uses instead of the ethanol plant project. The plant was never built and the promised jobs never created, yet the Lees and Kent continued to misrepresent to investors that the project was ongoing."
Also sued are Justin Lee's companies American Immigrant Investment Fund I, LLC; Biofuel Venture IV, LLC; Biofuel Venture V, LLC; Nexland Inc. dba Nexland Investment Group; and Nexsun Ethanol, LLC.
The SEC seeks disgorgement, penalties and an injunction.