SEC Obtains Final Judgment Against Seyed Taher Kameli for Defrauding Eb-5 Investors
Litigation Release No. 25328/ February 11, 2022
Securities and Exchange Commission v. Seyed Taher Kameli, et al., Civil Action No. 17-cv-04686 (Northern District of Illinois, Complaint filed June 22, 2017)
On January 24, 2022, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois entered a final judgment against Seyed Taher Kameli, a Chicago-based immigration attorney, for defrauding investors participating in the EB-5 immigrant investor program.
According to the SEC's Second Amended Complaint, filed in May 2019, Kameli and his companies, Defendants Chicagoland Foreign Investment Group, LLC and American Enterprise Pioneers, Inc. ("Defendants"), claimed to at least 226 foreign investors that each of their $500,000 investments would be used to help construct a specific senior living project in the Chicago area or Florida and create at least 10 permanent full-time jobs within that project and that this would qualify each investor for a potential path to permanent U.S. residency through the EB-5 program. As alleged, some of the investors were Kameli's immigration clients. According to the SEC's complaint, rather than use investor funds solely for the senior living project for which an investor was solicited, Defendants improperly commingled and misused a portion of the approximately $88.7 million raised, which was contrary to representations to investors and the requirements of the EB-5 Program.
Without admitting or denying the SEC's allegations, Defendants consented to the entry of a judgment that permanently enjoins them from violating Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 thereunder; orders that Defendants and three of Kameli's companies the Complaint names as Relief Defendants pay, jointly and severally in varying amounts, disgorgement of $1,172,000, plus prejudgment interest of $108,161; and orders Defendants to pay, jointly and severally, a $320,000 civil penalty.
In a related administrative action that the SEC instituted on February 7, 2022, Kameli agreed to the entry of an order suspending him from appearing and practicing before the SEC as an attorney. Under the order, Kameli is permitted to apply for reinstatement after five years.
The SEC's investigation was conducted by Tracy Lo and BeLinda Mathie of the Chicago office and supervised by Steven Klawans. The litigation was led by Eric Philips and Alyssa Qualls. The SEC appreciates the assistance of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which administers the EB-5 program.