Trump-Linked Massage Parlor Owner Hawked ‘Golden Visas’ – By Josh Kovensky (Talking Points Memo) / March 12 2019
The founder of a chain of massage and spa parlors that snagged Patriots owner Robert Kraft was apparently also hawking a different line of business: investment immigration.
Li “Cindy” Yang, a 45-year old Florida woman, has found herself in the headlines this past week for hobnobbing with some of the country’s most powerful politicians (including Trump) at Mar-a-Lago, and reportedly charging top Chinese execs for access to elected officials at the Palm Beach club.
TPM found that Yang, through a Florida-based company called GY US Investments LLC, was also using proximity to Trump and his properties to peddle so-called investor visas. Under the EB-5 visa program, foreign citizens can get a conditional two-year U.S. green card in exchange for making certain investments. Mother Jones first reported the existence of GY US Investments.
Along with extensive offers of access to Trump and American politicians including Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Yang’s company also claimed to provide “immigration investment projects,” according to a translation of cached versions of the company’s website. Those services included independent investments and those done via “immigration investment project centers,” according to the now shuttered website.
The EB-5 visa program allows potential immigrant investors to fund projects either via direct investment or via a registered regional center.
Yang’s company’s website listed a few examples of properties that foreigners can invest in as part of an “investment immigration project.”
The first is described as “high-end luxury real estate” and features a photo of the Palm Beach home of billionaire Jeffrey Lurie, whose Philadelphia Eagles faced off against Kraft’s New England Patriots in the Super Bowl last year.
That home is located a quarter-mile south of Mar-a-Lago — a fact that the company promotes as part of the investment, saying it’s “near Trump Manor.”
An attorney for Lurie did not reply to requests for comment.
Another photo on the website is that of a mansion that made headlines last year for its $61.5 million price tag, and is located two miles south of Mar-a-Lago.
It’s not clear whether the two mansions pictured on the website were actual projects or merely illustrations.
The so-called “golden visa” program has come under criticism in part for seemingly allowing wealthy foreigners to buy U.S. citizenship with little perceived benefit from their investments. It’s taken on a uniquely Trumpian tint since 2017 with the Kushner companies reportedly using the program to trade investment in a construction project for visas.
The demand for visas from China has led to the EB-5 waitlist for that country going up to as long as 8 years, James Aldrich, Jr., an immigration attorney at Dykema law firm told TPM.
“The thing about the EB-5s is there’s historically been a lot of scrutiny of them to prevent things like laundering drug money. And once people hear all the documentation they have to provide, the interest in them drops quite a bit,” Aldrich said. “I could see scamming investors somehow or another, but as far as pulling a fast one on the immigration service, you can’t really jump the line.”
The defunct company website identifies two other “partners” as working at the firm, Jerry Carlos and Elizabeth MacCall. Carlos is described as a Harvard Law graduate with a specialty in “investment immigration.” TPM was unable to find additional information on Carlos.
MacCall is a south Florida realtor. A picture on the Yang company website site corresponds to a photo from MacCall’s public Facebook profile taken at the Safari Night at Mar-a-Lago.
MacCall herself posted several photos from the January 2018 Safari Night Ball at Mar-a-Lago, including references to Yang herself.
Trump was originally slated to attend the gathering, but had to cancel due to a government shutdown. Instead, Trump’s sister Elizabeth Trump Grau hosted the event.
Mother Jones framed the event as an opportunity for Yang, a community outreach director for the Broward County Asian-American GOP, to charge Chinese executives for access to Trump.
“She’s really active in all the social events in the Chinese community and all the events in the Republican Party,” Xiaoqi Wang, an organizer with the Asian GOP’s Broward County chapter who knows Yang, told TPM.
Through her position as community outreach director of the Broward County branch of the Asian GOP, Yang also promoted the Safari Night Ball, which MacCall attended.
MacCall is listed in public records as a director of a company that also lists Yang’s husband as an officer and director. The company’s address on its annual report is the same as a Tokyo-branded nail saloon next door to one of the Tokyo-branded massage parlors that is reportedly part of Yang’s chain.
“I’m not a partner or anything, bye,” MacCall said, hanging up after TPM asked about her involvement in GY US Investments LLC.