“Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe and former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s brother Anthony Rodham are facing a $17 million fraud lawsuit from Chinese investors in Greentech Automotive, an electric car company that appears to be struggling to survive.
A group of 32 Chinese citizens filed the suit last week in Fairfax County, Virginia court, claiming that they were swindled out of about $560,000 apiece as a result of misrepresentations made by McAuliffe and Rodham—two of the most prominent and politically connected proponents of the venture aimed at manufacturing electric cars in the U.S.
The suit is yet another headache for McAuliffe as he mulls a potential presidential bid in 2020, buoyed in part by Democrats’ strong showing in the state in the election earlier this month. McAuliffe confirmed last year that his business dealings with foreign nationals were under investigation by the FBI and federal prosecutors. It’s unclear whether that probe involved Greentech or whether the inquiry is still ongoing.
The Chinese investors plowed their money into Greentech with the promise of winning permanent residency in the U.S. under a program that awards green cards to foreign-funded ventures that generate U.S. jobs. However, the suit contends that the investors now face the threat of deportation from the U.S. because the Department of Homeland Security has determined that Greentech did not generate the number of jobs required to sustain the number of visas issued through the so-called EB-5 program.
“Plaintiffs now face the prospect of having to uproot their families once again, with the expense and stress of deportation to China looming before them,” the suit says, accusing McAuliffe, Rodham, Greentech founder Charles Xiaolin Wang and others of running a “scam.”
McAuliffe and Rodham did several tours through China to seek investments in the electric car startup, the suit says. As brother-in-law of President Bill Clinton and as brother of the then-secretary of state—Rodham appeared to serve as a means of attracting Chinese interest in the project. The suit contends that Rodham’s involvement conveyed that the electric-car firm was politically-connected and likely to prosper.
“Defendants milked these connections in marketing materials,” the suit says. “Defendants exploited those relationships to assure investors of both the success of the company and their ability to obtain U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) approval of the visa applications.” (Read more: Politico, 11/28/2017) (Archive)