By Tori Richards | Watchdog.org
Government documents contradict claims made by GreenTech Automotive officials that they did nothing to press federal officials to approve the visa application of Zhenjun Zhang, a foreign investor with ties to a Chinese company on a U.S. spy list.
Documents show that attorney Simone Williams and CEO Anthony Rodham, executives at GreenTech’s investor relations arm, wrote on Jan. 29 to USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas seeking to fast track stalled petitions for foreign investors under the government’s EB-5 program. One of those that had been languishing was Zhang’s, according to government documents.
A week later, in a Feb. 7 email recently released by Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, an unidentified U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services official detailed the security risks associated with Zhang’s application. The official urged colleagues to consider information about Zhang’s company, telecommunications giant Huawei Technologies, before “granting the expedite request.” The official recommended analysts review “several classified reports that are directly related.”
But in an Aug. 9 story that appeared on ABC’s web site, Williams, who works for Gulf Coast Funds Management, said the company did not ask officials to fast-track the application.
“His application is still in the relatively early stage of the process,” Williams told ABC.
She said GreenTech has “no information” that applicant Zhang is a security threat, and said his pending visa is the “typical petition, (with) normal processing times.”
During a July 25 Senate confirmation hearing, Alejandro Mayorkas, now Barack Obama’s choice to for assistant director of the Department of Homeland Security, was grilled on EB-5, the government’s cash-for-visas program. Around that time, Grassley released nearly 100 pages of letters and emails showing his quest to investigate Mayorkas’ purported lax handling of immigration affairs, including those of GreenTech and Gulf Coast.
According to an Oct. 8, 2012, report issued by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence:
“(G)iants like Huawei … provide a wealth of opportunities for Chinese intelligence agencies to insert malicious hardware or software implants into critical telecommunications components and systems.
“It appears that under Chinese law … Huawei would be obligated to cooperate with any request by the Chinese government to use their systems or access them for malicious purposes under the guise of state security.
“Access to U.S. telecommunications infrastructure also allows China to engage in undetected espionage against the United States government and private sector interests.”
But the most damning passage of the report said:
“Inserting malicious hardware or software implants into Chinese manufactured telecommunications components and systems headed for U.S. customers could allow Beijing to shut down or degrade critical national security systems in a time of crisis or war.”
Huawei, which has a Chinese Communist Party Committee as part of its corporate structure, told House members it could not provide requested documentation such as a list of Communist Party member names or their duties without approval by the Chinese government, the report said.
The committee accused Huawei officials of a “potential pattern of unethical and illegal behavior… allegations that of themselves create serious doubts about whether Huawei can be trusted to operate in the United States.”
Whistleblowers who worked at Huawei gave the House committee “credible reports” that Huawei engaged in immigration violations, bribery, corruption, discrimination and copyright infringement, among other illegalities, the report said.
Gulf Coast Funds Management itself is the subject of a Securities and Exchange Commission probe to determine whether the company is misrepresenting the EB-5 law to potential investors. EB-5 requires at least $500,000 of at-risk capita,l but in at least one case it issued a promissory note and has stated in a training manual that the investment can be backed up by stock in the company.
Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe owns GreenTech, but has attempted to distance himself from the fray. In April, the company abruptly announced McAuliffe had resigned as chairman in December. He remains a major stockowner.
McAuliffe’s connection to this mess hasn’t been lost on tea party members in Loudoun County, Va., a key campaign battleground in the governor’s race.
“This campaign has a taint of corruption. He will get money from any source,” said the group’s co-chairman, Chris Minor.
“It goes back to Clinton when he (McAuliffe) was the money man to his campaign and it was discovered that it was receiving illegal donations from China in the millions of dollars,” Minor said. “His lack of scruples and ethics are evident in everything he touches from his time as financier to the Clintons to his campaign now. He will do anything to reach his ultimate goal.”
Contact Tori Richards at firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter @newswriter2.
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