Friday, January 29, 2010

EB5 Regional Centers: The Rabbit Hole Freefall

I have had a pretty busy week so the blog factory in my brain is a bit backlogged, but I didn't want you to head home for the weekend without a little "immigrant investor food for thought".

As you know, the past few months for me have been a pretty deep and full immersion into the world of the "modern" EB5 Regional Center.  I say "modern" because the fact is that a handful of currently-operating Regional Centers have pretty deep roots, going back to the 90's, when the EB5 was expanded to permit these pooled investment structures and indirect job creation.  These veteran organizations -- and those who run them -- have colorful histories, diverse backgrounds...and much to teach us about what constitutes a "good" EB5 Regional Center.

Information has been unearthed from different sources.  First, there was web research.  That led to limited useful information in that the bulk of results were either self-laudatory comments by the Regional Centers involved or, conversely, negative commentary posted by questionable resources (except in the most historically catastrophic RC fiascos, whose victims and their posted anger are legion).  I should hasten to add that I would include my own, vehemently anti-EB5 Regional-Center online commentary of the late 1990s and early 00's as a "questionable resource":  while I still believe the my fundamental assertions regarding the chaos and dishonesty of the investment schemes of that era, I really didn't look closely enough to see that a tiny minority WAS playing by the rules.  In retrospect, more homework needed to be done at that time and my commentary would have been more balanced)

Next came what I would describe as the "EB5 Coconut Telegraph": anecdotal and historical gossip, tales, and stories provided by those who have been in the game a long time.  Dozens of conversations with EB5 folks who were the pioneer Regional Center founders, attorneys...and, in abundance, victimized investors, many of whom remain in the U.S. a full decade later with no clear status resolution.

So, like Neo, I elected to take the Red Pill and see how deep the Rabbit Hole really goes...and I've yet to hit bottom.  The amount of information is colossal, and sifting the truth from the competitively-driven sass is not often easy. But the plunge was necessary if I am to achieve my objective of finding the truth about today's active EB5 Regional Centers and convey that truth to you.

Expect some fireworks.  I'm no Michael Moore, but when I find relevant stuff which is documented, I will tell you about it, both positive and negative.  Names will be named.  And based upon what I've seen so far, I suspect most of that will not be positive.  A few months back I took a potshot at an EB5 developer who got a lot of local press here by saying that the worst that could happen with the venture was that everyone would make "a bunch of money".  Sure.

As I continue to plummet down this EB5 Rabbit Hole, it is clear to me that a distinct dichotomy lies beneath the glossy surface of the whole Regional Center scene, and that, as in life, there are good guys and there are bad guys.  I have concluded that the only way to understand the integrity of the Regional Center is to look to the integrity of those who are responsible for its creation and operation.  When I hit bottom, or when the free-fall grows boring, I will be telling you what I have learned.  If history is to repeat itself, I will get nasty calls and possibly threatened with legal action. But, hey, it'll make for an interesting read, right? (-;

Have a great weekend and as the Templar Knight told Indiana Jones when he was trying to find the true Holy Grail amidst a vast number of impostors...choose wisely.



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