Tur Partners — which Daley formed with his son Patrick Daley after leaving office — has permission from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to solicit money from foreign investors who would bankroll construction projects or other businesses in the Chicago area in exchange for green cards allowing them to live here forever . . .
The Emanuel administration had been unaware that the former mayor’s company had any involvement with Magellan, according to a City Hall source.
As a federally approved “EB-5 regional center,” Tur Partners has the authority to solicit foreign investors for business projects in 14 counties between Kenosha, Wisconsin, and Gary, Indiana. But it has yet to do so, according to H. Ronald Klasko, a Philadelphia lawyer who submitted Tur’s application to the Department of Homeland Security on Nov. 19, 2013. The application was approved last July 17, but Klasko says Tur doesn’t have any deals in place yet.
“They haven’t raised any money,” Klasko says. “They’re searching for a project. You can’t raise money without a client.”
Tur Partners has been working closely with Magellan, which hopes to build both skyscrapers with money raised under the controversial EB-5 immigrant-investor program, which grants permanent residency to foreigners who help create jobs in the United States, according to documents and sources.
Tur Partners Metropolitan Regional Center LLC is headed by Daley and Lori Healey, his onetime City Hall chief of staff, who might be leaving Tur to become CEO of the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, the government agency that owns McCormick Place and Navy Pier . . .Preliminary approval of Magellan's planned new development was granted by Daley's administration before he left office. Naturally, Daley was not available to comment to The Sun-Times about his latest project. A few months ago, Daley claimed he was too ill to testify at a trial over a one-sided, long-term restaurant lease for prime space in Millennium Park his administration entered into with a political crony that his successor's administration was trying desperately to undo.
Last year, a 30-year old Chicago man, Anshoo Sethi, was charged by federal prosecutors with defrauding Chinese investors out of nearly $160 million he supposedly planned to use to build a hotel and convention center on Chicago's west side relying upon the federal EB-5 program. Sethi's indictment proved very embarrassing to a number of high-profile politicians, including former Gov. Pat Quinn, who publicly supported Sethi's project. Other top Democrats, including Sen. Harry Reid's son, Hillary Clinton's brother and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe have all been associated with using their political clout to cash in on the business of selling green cards to foreign investors.
UPDATE: See this ABC News story:
Officials overseeing a federal program that offers an immigration short-cut to wealthy foreign investors have ignored pointed warnings from federal agents and approved visas for some immigrants suspected of having committed fraud, money laundering, and even one applicant with alleged ties to a child porn website, an ABC News investigation has found. The shortcomings prompted concerns within the Department of Homeland Security that the boutique immigration program would be exploited by terrorists, according to internal documents obtained by ABC News.
“It is shocking,” said Sen. Charles Grassley, an Iowa Republican. “Particularly when you have F.B.I. and other law enforcement agencies that are saying national security could be compromised or is being compromised -- that's enough for us to be concerned.” Five different Homeland Security whistleblowers spoke with ABC News about a range of cases where visas were approved despite numerous red flags. They said objections were often ignored because the immigration program is so popular within the Obama Administration and with members of Congress from both parties.
Known as the EB-5 visa program, foreigners who are willing to invest $500,000 in an American business can jump to the front of the line and obtain legal status to live in the U.S. for two years. If the investment is shown to create at least 10 jobs, the investors can receive a “Green Card” -- permanent residency . . .
One regional center, run by an Iranian-born businessman living in Beverly Hills was approved to raise roughly $25 million in investment money from foreign sources even when one of his businesses was being raided by agents.
Federal officials told ABC News the businessman is suspected of allegedly smuggling banned items to Iran. Another regional center raised money from Chinese investors to finance the construction of federal buildings, including an FBI headquarters building in San Diego, raising what one internal document called “national security concerns” that “pertain to Chinese investors having visibility to FBI blueprints/information.” . . .
In 2013, then-Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe was accused by political opponents of trying to prod federal officials to approve visas for investors in an electric vehicle start-up venture he ran. He denied that he sought undue influence. In 2014, questions about an EB-5 investment scheme in South Dakota became grist for political ads targeting then-U.S. Senate candidate Mike Rounds, who was attacked for his role in oversight of investment projects while he was governor. Rounds called the attacks political and "inaccurate" and "defamatory."
Questions about the SLS Hotel project in Las Vegas first gained attention when an article in The Washington Times revealed that Homeland Security expedited the processing of investor visas after Nevada Sen. Harry Reid (D) and his staff began prodding the department to move faster. Reid aides said their push to eliminate longstanding bureaucratic hurdles with the program and was aimed at creating local jobs . . .