Will Haddad’s article, “EB-5 Visa Fraud, What You Need to Know,” was published in The Champion Magazine. The article reviews recent legislative, legal and other issues related to these highly desirable “fast track” visas. Such developments include a number of securities fraud cases brought by the SEC, as well as some federal criminal cases.
A copy of the article is reproduced here, with the written permission of the publisher, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.
On June 5, 2017, by unanimous decision, the U.S. Supreme Court determined that disgorgement – a remedy that generated $3 billion in 2015 – is a “penalty” thereby subjecting it to the 5-year statute of limitations that applies to any “action, suit or proceeding for the enforcement of any civil fine, penalty, or forfeiture, pecuniary or otherwise.” Kokesh v. SEC,No. 16-529, slip op. at 1 (June 5, 2017) (quoting 28 U.S.C. §2462). The Court’s decision relieved Kokesh of a $30 million disgorgement order entered in the lower court.
The SEC had argued that disgorgement is a different animal – it simply places the defendant in the same position as he or she would have been but for the offense. The Court strongly disagreed noting the deterrent qualities of disgorgement, which is a hallmark of a penalty, “[s]anctions imposed for the purpose of deterring infractions of public laws are inherently punitive.” Id. at 8. The Court observed that the victims (if there are any) of a securities law violation need not participate in the enforcement action and may not even support it. In addition, money that is disgorged to the Treasury often stays there; i.e., there is no absolute requirement that the money that is recovered be distributed to the purportedly aggrieved investors.
Going forward, the SEC is faced with having to speed up its investigations and charging decisions. That can be a challenge, especially in complex cases where the Enforcement Division would prefer to thoroughly build out a case in advance.