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May 12 2012 Share on Facebook

Facebook Co-Founder Eduardo Saverin Gives Up U.S. Citizenship Before IPO

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8E9LVD8cdHA

Eduardo Saverin, the billionaire co- founder of Facebook Inc. (FB), renounced his U.S. citizenship before an initial public offering that values the social network at as much as $96 billion, a move that may reduce his tax bill.

Facebook plans to raise as much as $11.8 billion through the IPO, the biggest in history for an Internet company. Saverin’s stake is about 4 percent, according to the website www.whoownsfacebook.com. At the high end of the proposed IPO market capitalization, that would be worth about $3.84 billion. His holdings aren’t listed in Facebook’s regulatory filings.

Saverin, 30, joins a growing number of people giving up U.S. citizenship ahead of a possible increase in tax rates for top earners. The Brazilian-born resident of Singapore is one of several people who helped Mark Zuckerberg start Facebook in a Harvard University dormitory and stand to reap billions of dollars after the world’s largest social network holds its IPO.

“Eduardo recently found it more practical to become a resident of Singapore since he plans to live there for an indefinite period of time,” said Tom Goodman, a spokesman for Saverin, in an e-mailed statement.

Saverin’s name is on a list of people who chose to renounce citizenship as of April 30, published by the Internal Revenue Service. Saverin made that move “around September” of last year, according to his spokesman.

Besides helping cut tax bills stemming from the Facebook, the move may also help him avoid capital gains taxes on future investments since Singapore doesn’t have a capital gains tax.

Exit Tax

Saverin won’t escape all U.S. taxes. Americans who give up their citizenship owe what is effectively an exit tax on the capital gains from their stock holdings, even if they don’t sell the shares, said Reuven S. Avi-Yonah, director of the international tax program at the University of Michigan’s law school. For tax purposes, the IRS treats the stock as if it has been sold.

Renouncing your citizenship well in advance of an IPO is “a very smart idea,” from a tax standpoint, Avi-Yonah said. “Once it’s public you can’t fool around with the value.”

Saverin’s estimated gain, and subsequent tax bill, would be based on an appraisal by his tax advisers. They could have valued his Facebook stake at less than it will be worth once shares trade publicly, reducing his liability. For tax purposes, Saverin could say that the value of his stake should be discounted because of the potential difficulty of selling the shares while the company remains private.

Zuckerberg Scuffle

Saverin previously scuffled with Zuckerberg, his Harvard University classmate, over his ownership in Facebook. Saverin sued him and settled for an undisclosed amount.

The 2010 movie “The Social Network” added to Saverin’s fame after it portrayed him as a scorned friend who provided the company’s early financing and then was squeezed out. In the film, written by Aaron Sorkin, Saverin was portrayed by Andrew Garfield, who will play Spider-Man in “The Amazing Spider- Man,” due to be released in July.

Saverin moved to the U.S. in 1992, and became a citizen in 1998, his spokesman said. He has invested in Asian, U.S. and European companies, according to his spokesman.
He plans to invest in Brazilian and in other global companies that have strong interests in entering the Asian markets. “Accordingly, it made the most sense for him to use Singapore as a home base,” Goodman said in the statement.

His U.S. holdings include Jumio Inc., an online payments company, and ShopSavvy Inc., a price-comparison service.

Renouncing citizenship is an option chosen by increasing numbers of Americans. A record 1,780 gave up their U.S. passports last year compared with 235 in 2008, according to government records.

Income-tax rates for top U.S. earners will rise to 39.6 percent from 35 percent next year and rates on capital gains and dividends also are scheduled to rise, unless Congress blocks the increases.

“It’s a loss for the U.S. to have many well-educated people who actually have a great deal of affection for America make that choice,” said Richard Weisman, head of the global tax practice at Baker & McKenzie in Hong Kong. “The tax cost, complexity and the traps for the unwary are among the considerations.”

Combatting Evasion

Some of the world’s largest wealth-management firms have ramped up efforts to fight tax evasion ahead of Washington’s implementation of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, known as Fatca, which seeks to prevent tax evasion by Americans with offshore accounts. HSBC Holdings Plc, Deutsche Bank AG, Bank of Singapore Ltd. and DBS Group Holdings Ltd. all say they have turned away business.

The 2010 law, to be phased in starting Jan. 1, 2013, requires financial institutions based outside the U.S. to obtain and report information about income and interest payments accrued to the accounts of American clients. That means additional compliance costs for banks and fewer investment options and advisers for all U.S. citizens living abroad, which may depress banks’ returns.

Facebook plans to price its IPO on May 17, offering 337.4 million shares at $28 to $35 each. The shares will be listed on the Nasdaq Stock Market under the symbol FB. Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. are leading the sale.

One of Facebook's co-founders, Eduardo Saverin, who stands to make a bundle in the social network's share offering has renounced his US citizenship, records showed.

The move by Saverin, who lives in Singapore, could save the Brazilian native a bundle in US taxes.

Saverin, whose public spat with Mark Zuckerberg was featured in the 2010 film "The Social Network," is on a list of names published April 30 by the US Internal Revenue Service of those renouncing US citizenship.

His stake in Facebook after a losing a power struggle with Zuckerberg is believed to be between two and four percent. The website "Who Owns Facebook?" said his share would be worth around $3.4 billion.

Bloomberg News cited a spokesman for Saverin saying he had decided to renounce US citizenship because he intended to stay in Singapore, where he has invested in several startups.

"Eduardo recently found it more practical to become a resident of Singapore since he plans to live there for an indefinite period of time," said Tom Goodman, a spokesman for Saverin, in an e-mailed statement to Bloomberg, which said Saverin renounced US citizenship last September.

US citizens normally pay taxes on all their worldwide income, regardless of where they live. But Saverin would likely escape much of those taxes because Singapore does not tax foreign-sourced income.

Dec 25 2011 Share on Facebook

50萬「買」綠卡 中國高管多 China's Super-Rich Buy a Better Life Abroad



根據美國公民及移民服務局(USCIS)的統計,去年中國通過在美國投資至少50萬美元而獲得美國永久居留權(即「綠卡」)的投資移民簽證獲得者,在各國中居首位。中國媒體調查顯示,成功投資移民美國的中國居民,多為公司法人和高管。

1990年美國國會立法通過投資移民以來,主要以吸引外國投資者到美國投資和創造就業機會的移民方式(E-B5),已經過了20個年頭。這種投資移民,只要外國投資者在美國境內投資100萬美元創建一個商業性公司,並創造十個直接就業機會。在美國經濟受益的情況下,投資者以及配偶和21周歲以下的未成年子女將可獲得二年期限的「條件式綠卡」。

兩年期滿後,如果該投資者的投資行為以及所創造的十個就業機會仍然存在,投資者可申請將條件解除,全家換取永久性美國綠卡。
1993年投資移民法規中又特別增設了「區域中心」方案,並把投資額度從100萬美元降到了50萬美元。

「每日經濟新聞」報導,美國政策的逐漸放鬆,使得中國國內的投資類移民出現「井噴」。該報調查顯示,投資移民美國的大都是企業的法人、重要的股東等。一家移民公司表示,該公司每年做的投資移民在
200人左右,其客戶條件是,資產1000萬元人民幣以上、有公司管理經驗。最重要的是,想移民的人要證明自己財產的來源一定具有合法性。

該移民公司的內部資料上可看到,投資移民的成功案例中,有建築集團的副總、房地產公司的高管以及大型超市的負責人等。

北京因私出入境中介機構協會會長、東方傑聖諮詢公司總裁齊立新說,投資移民的重點並非投資,而是身分的轉換。這些投資類的移民或者企業家到國外換了身分之後,事業重心其實還是在國內。

他指出,「在投資移民過程中,不可能將財富全盤轉移出去。這些財富包括工廠、設備、資源等,真正轉移出去的也許不是財富,而是他所拿到的現金這種財產」。


Education for the kids, clean air, and rule of law are luring wealthy families to emigrate - 

Self-made millionaire Li Weijie runs his own ski and golf resort outside Beijing and considers himself a patriot: A lifesize statue of Mao Zedong on a four-meter base towers over the entrance to his resort. What would Chairman Mao say if he knew Li was the proud holder of a Canadian residency card? “I wanted access to the education system and health care of a developed country,” says Li, 43, whose other businesses include one of Beijing’s largest private taxi companies, two car dealerships, and a real estate company. Li now has a $6 million house on Vancouver’s Westside, known for its rich Chinese. His wife tools around Vancouver in a black Maybach while his 20-year-old son drives a dark gray Maserati to classes at the University of British Columbia. His wife and son live in Canada full-time.

What began as a trickle a decade ago when Li moved his family to Canada has become a flood as China’s new rich seek foreign passports or residency permits (commonly known as green cards in the U.S.) largely from the U.S., Canada, Australia, Singapore, and New Zealand. More than 500,000 Chinese have investable assets of over 10 million yuan ($1.57 million), according to a joint survey released in April by China Merchants Bank and Bain & Co. The study says almost 60 percent are considering emigrating, have begun the process, or have emigrated.

In the U.S. so far this year almost 3,000 Chinese citizens have applied for investor visas, up from 270 in 2007. That’s 78 percent of the total applicant pool for this type of visa, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The U.S. investor visa, also known as the EB-5, requires a minimum investment of $500,000 by the applicant in a commercial project in the U.S. that employs at least 10 Americans within two years. If the Chinese applicants can’t generate those jobs, they and their family may have to leave the U.S.

The drive to emigrate makes for brisk business for people like Jason Zhang, a broker at Realty Direct Boston, a branch of a nationwide chain. Zhang’s office specializes in settling Chinese in the Boston area. He says this year he has already helped dozens of Chinese families purchase homes and cars (the émigrés often pay in cash, he says) and find the right schools for their children, up from just two or three families in total a few years ago. Wealthy suburbs like Weston and Lexington are top choices.

For the most part, China’s richest aren’t permanently fleeing their country, as some Russian oligarchs have. About 80 percent of the wealthy Chinese emigrating don’t plan on giving up their passports, according to an October survey by the Bank of China and Shanghai-based Hurun Report, which publishes an annual ranking of China’s richest people. Instead, the most common model is that of Li Weijie: Wife and child get foreign passports and live abroad, husband gets a residency permit but spends most of his time in China. “If you think of emigrating like Russians, it is because they are afraid and so are leaving their country,” says Hurun’s founder, Rupert Hoogewerf. “This is not true of the wealthy Chinese at all. They still have their businesses in China and most of their assets are in yuan.”

So why are they looking at residency abroad? The top motive cited is to pursue better educational opportunities for their children, according to the Bank of China-Hurun and China Merchants-Bain surveys, as well as comments from émigrés. The feeling among rich Chinese is that U.S. universities beat out their Chinese equivalents, and their children need to understand the world. Émigrés note that top Chinese leaders such as Xi Jinping, likely China’s next president, send their children abroad to study. Escaping dire air quality and food safety problems are also factors.

Moving a family abroad and obtaining foreign residency cards could also prove useful in case of sudden legal or policy shifts that hurt entrepreneurs, or if social unrest reaches a boiling point. So-called mass incidents—riots, strikes, and protests—doubled in five years, to 180,000 in 2010, Sun Liping, a professor at Beijing’s Tsinghua University, wrote in a Feb. 25 article in the Economic Observer. “Some people in China are talking about class conflicts against rich people,” says Wang Xiaolu, deputy director of the National Economic Research Institute in Beijing. “Maybe some of those emigrating or getting residency are worrying about possible policy changes turning China ‘left’ that will put them in danger.”

One émigré in Boston (who asked only that his last name, Yang, be used since he still owns a factory in China) points out that the Chinese government spent more money on internal security (549 billion yuan) than on defense (534 billion yuan) in 2010. He says that if things got ugly, the rich would be targets not just for being rich but for their close connections with the government. Most of China’s wealthy have an “original sin,” or some illegality relating to earning their “first bucket of gold,” says Yang.

“China develops so fast, and the society is unstable,” says Shengxi “Tina” Tian, an attorney at MT Law, a firm based in Burlington, Mass., that helps wealthy Chinese emigrate to the U.S. Tian points out that the émigrés appreciate the rule of law in the U.S., Canada, and elsewhere.

Some wealthy émigrés are nervous talking openly about why they have sought foreign residencies. “For us businessmen, we go wherever is safe,” says another recent émigré in Boston. “China’s political system and legal system make us feel insecure,” says the businessman, who still runs a furniture business in Shanghai and would not allow his or his company’s name to be used. He later refused to talk further and instead declared his devotion to the Party.

In China, more than 800 licensed emigration service companies (and possibly hundreds more without proper government approvals) coach applicants for visa interviews, help them fill out forms, and identify possible overseas investments. Beijing-based Well Trend United, one of China’s oldest and largest emigration service companies, charges up to $30,000 per client. Well Trend, which has offices in 10 of China’s largest cities and more than 400 visa consultants and agents, says it has helped more than 10,000 Chinese get overseas visas since it opened in 1995. Business will remain strong for at least another decade, says founder Larry Wang. “It helps the U.S. get certain capital while Chinese can realize their dream of seeing the world. It’s supply and demand.”

A serious issue for both the Chinese applicants and their prospective host countries is the origin of their wealth. To ensure that those with criminal backgrounds aren’t let in, and to make sure they’re truly affluent, officials of the U.S., Canada, and other countries want thorough documentation of their assets. That can be difficult. “Wealthy Chinese almost all have a history of evading taxes,” says Gao Tong, who emigrated to Boston six years ago and is now setting up his own immigration services company called Harmonia Capital USA, with his brother, a wealthy Shanghai businessman. “They fear getting caught if they have to report their income globally.”

Some middlemen collude with clients to forge documents, say Well Trend executives, since many émigrés don’t have papers to prove the origin of their finances, or they may have gotten rich through illicit means. “There are more than a few bad apples,” says Victor Lum, a vice-president at Well Trend and a former Canadian visa official. “USCIS takes allegations regarding EB-5 program malfeasance very seriously,” USCIS spokesman Christopher Bentley wrote in an e-mail.

Longer term, if China’s economy continues to grow, the emigration surge could abate. Ski resort entrepreneur Li says some of his friends are reconsidering plans to get foreign residency. In part that’s because of stricter rules in Canada and elsewhere. And while rich Chinese still crave Canadian or U.S. degrees for their children, they may see less reason to emigrate. “When I first went to Canada, I thought China was very backward and it would take 50 years for us to catch up,” says Li. “After 10 years, we can all see that China will absolutely surpass the rest of the world.”

The bottom line: More than half a million Chinese are worth at least 10 million yuan. Many are seeking the insurance of a second home abroad.

Roberts is Bloomberg Businessweek's Asia News Editor and China bureau chief. Zhao is a reporter for Bloomberg News.

Updated Dec 19 2011 Share on Facebook

Published on March 12, 1997 by the New York Times

For the Super rich who generate little or NO income in the United States - obtaining the US Green Card via EB-5 Program or other means could be a tax death-trap

Millions of Dollars Couldn't Keep DFS Group Together -
The three Americans gave up their United States Citizenship, apparently for tax reasons. By JON NORDHEIMER

The plea for harmony from Ira M. Millstein, the high-powered New York lawyer, to the four men who controlled DFS Group Ltd., the duty-free shopping colossus, started off on a scolding note.

''Two people want to diversify; two do not,'' Mr. Millstein wrote last August to the men who had hired him to arbitrate their dispute over breaking up their long partnership. ''This has happened before in the history of the world, and people have worked it out. It doesn't require a rocket scientist, only a recognition of reality.'' A legal fight, Mr. Millstein warned, could expose DFS's ''dirty linen'' and reveal the inner workings of the privately held and highly profitable chain of duty-free shops that the owners had labored so hard to shield from the public.

Did his clients take Mr. Millstein's advice and make peace before the playing field got muddy? Uh-uh. Too much was at stake. And so the gilded tale of DFS -- a textbook success story, an almost perfect business, a cash machine that practically ran itself -- is ending in a sour and uncharacteristically public falling out.

By late summer, two of the partners, Robert W. Miller, who two years ago married off his daughter to Greece's exiled crown prince, and Anthony M. Pilaro, an American tax lawyer, were exchanging smoking fax messages with the other two, Charles F. Feeney, a plain-living Irish-American who had secretly given away more than $500 million over 15 years, and Alan M. Parker, a British accountant. Their long-distance battle centered on whether Mr. Feeney and Mr. Parker had the right to sell their majority interest -- 58.75 percent -- to LVMH Moet Hennessy-Louis Vuitton S.A. The French company, a major supplier of luxury goods sold in DFS's 180 stores in airports and cities around the globe and a competitor in many of the same places, had offered to buy out all the partners for $4.2 billion.

Faxes soon changed to depositions and affidavits, lawyers and lawsuits, before the Solomonic Mr. Millstein cut the baby in half in arbitration hearings last December, ruling that the sale could go through if the minority partners were protected from any move by LVMH to squeeze the lifeblood out of its new acquisition.

Losing the legal battle forced Mr. Miller, who controlled 38.75 percent of DFS, and Mr. Pilaro, who held 2.5 percent, to concede the war, agreeing in recent weeks to sell their interests to LVMH. Mr. Miller's sale is still pending; if a disagreement over whether the French company should pick up some of his American tax obligations is resolved and the deal closes, he and the foundations where most of his fortune is parked will pick up the same amount as Mr. Feeney and his foundations: $1.63 billion. Mr. Parker received $840 million, and Mr. Pilaro received $105 million.

That, of course, is the sort of breakup that most people could easily shake off. Still, the question remains: How was it possible that the two founders, Messrs. Feeney and Miller, and the two clever men they brought in early in the game to structure a worldwide web of luxury goods shops, Messrs. Parker and Pilaro, could end their relationship on such an acrimonious note?

The paradoxical answer lies in the very success of the three expatriate Americans and Mr. Parker, a native of Rhodesia. The unending cascade of money into their bank accounts enabled the four to go their separate ways, socially and financially, undermining the bonds of friendship and solidarity that form the heart of most bountiful partnerships.

(All four former partners declined requests for interviews. The story of what happened was pieced together from affidavits and other documents submitted to the arbitrator and from interviews with people familiar with their feuding, most of whom requested anonymity.)

Mr. Feeney, who lives in London, turned his attention to charity, secretly giving away more than $500 million in recent years. Mr. Miller, a more flamboyant New Englander, officially lives in Hong Kong but hobnobs with European royalty. Mr. Parker and Mr. Pilaro, a former associate of the infamous American financier Robert Vesco, live in London and Geneva, respectively.

The relationship fractured first in the late 1980's over a venture by Mr. Feeney that his partners said conflicted with DFS operations in Hawaii. It came apart when he began negotiating with LVMH to sell his entire holdings, eventually winning Mr. Parker and his 20 percent stake to his side. The bickering reached a climax late last year, and not even the ministrations of Mr. Millstein could calm the warring camps.

The $4.2 billion price tag would have been beyond the imagining of the two young Americans who sat in a Barcelona bar 40 years earlier, hatching plans to sell tax-free liquor to fellow G.I.'s ending their stints in Europe. But the business that Messrs. Feeney and Miller founded was an immediate hit, growing over the years into a global merchandising empire. Now catering especially to free-spending Japanese travelers in the Pacific Rim, DFS had 1996 sales of $2.7 billion, according to Duty Free News International, a trade journal based in London.

In less than two decades, from 1977 to 1995, the company generated dividends of nearly $3 billion, 90 percent of which went directly in cash to the four partners or to their tax-driven trusts and foundations.

''This was not just a nice cash cow they milked,'' said one lawyer who was thrown into the legal fray. ''The size is more on the magnitude of Godzilla and King Kong.''

But while DFS was the main source of their wealth, it hardly represented the entirety of their assets. ''All of these guys are professional investors and successful outside of DFS,'' one financial adviser familiar with their portfolios said. ''Miller has earned another fortune in investments in Asia and Australia; Feeney in software and tour companies, and Parker and Pilaro in hedge funds and high tech. They all have invested wisely in the greatest bull market in history.''

As the four went in separate directions, their personal ties also apparently loosened. ''They had been close as businessmen but not as close socially as they sometimes are portrayed,'' said a business associate, who requested anonymity. ''As the years went by, their friendship drifted even further.''

************************************************



Congress's overhaul of the Federal tax system in 1986 increased their isolation by prompting them to restructure the company in a way that put more distance among them. Instead of direct owners, they became ''shareholder representatives'' of tax shelters and charitable foundations they created. The three Americans gave up their citizenship, apparently for tax reasons.

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Serious trouble started brewing in the late 1980's after Mr. Feeney started his own retail stores in Hawaii that his partners complained competed with DFS. When he refused to sell the shops, they stripped him of representation on the boards of DFS and some subsidiaries.

Seeking to avoid further dissension, the four agreed in 1991 to submit disputes to an arbitrator, or ''wise man.'' For that role, they chose Mr. Millstein, a senior partner in the New York law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges who had helped settle board room battles at General Motors and I.B.M.

Things were more or less patched up by 1994 when a new storm broke out. Some years earlier, Mr. Feeney had transferred his entire DFS stake to his charitable foundation and given away hundreds of millions of dollars, with more commitments in the pipeline. He needed a steady flow of dollars that DFS, with its reliance on the unpredictable tourism trade, could not provide. For example, its dividend payments soared from $40 million in 1978 to $400 million in 1988, plunged to $12 million in 1991 because of travel disruptions linked to the Persian Gulf war and then bounced back to $300 million in 1994, according to documents submitted to the arbitrator.

So Mr. Feeney decided to sell his DFS stock and put the proceeds into more conservative investments. The most logical buyer, he concluded, was LVMH. With annual sales of nearly $6 billion, it had the size to make the combination work. And as a longtime supplier to DFS, it would make a good fit, Mr. Feeney thought. And so he initiated talks with the French concern.

His partners were furious. They viewed LVMH as a direct competitor in prized Asian markets and feared it might divert earnings from dividends into its own operations. For two years, the other partners pressured Mr. Feeney to change his mind. Instead, Mr. Feeney won Mr. Parker to his side. Together, they owned 58.75 of the company -- the majority stake that LVMH coveted.

Mr. Miller and Mr. Pilaro then countered that any sale would violate their 1991 wise-man agreement and called on Mr. Millstein to make a ruling. He called for reasonableness on all sides. ''So far the world isn't aware of your respective holdings, interests, etc.,'' he wrote the disputants last summer. ''Nasty litigation will likely bring it all out.''

But even with his coaching, negotiations went nowhere. An offer by Messrs. Miller and Pilaro to buy out the others was rejected.

His peace overtures unheeded, Mr. Millstein convened a small galaxy of high-profile lawyers in his Manhattan law office on Nov. 6 to hear arguments on the arbitration. Bernard W. Nussbaum, a former White House counsel in the Clinton Administration, represented Mr. Parker. Frederick A. O. Schwarz, former chairman of the New York City Charter Commission, spoke on behalf of Mr. Feeney. Peter Fleming Jr., who represented former Attorney General John N. Mitchell in the Watergate cases and Drexel Burnham Lambert in the company's insider trading troubles, was there to advise Mr. Miller.

''This is not an easy thing to decide,'' Mr. Millstein told the gathering. ''I have to find a way to cut the baby in half, and somebody is going to be very unhappy.''

The central issues quickly boiled down to whether the 1991 agreement required the selling partners to obtain the approval of the nonsellers, and if not, whether a sale would damage the holdings of Mr. Miller and Mr. Pilaro.

The sellers' lawyers went on the attack. ''They want to continue their personal life style,'' Mr. Schwarz said. ''That is not a point that people interested in the well-being of DFS would make.''

After much discussion, Mr. Millstein ruled in favor of Mr. Feeney and Mr. Parker but persuaded LVMH's chairman, Bernard Arnault, to sign a 21-page agreement designed to assuage the nonsellers' concerns. Essentially it requires LVMH to follow DFS's established marketing and buying practices and to act in a way that would not divert DFS profits to the parent company's operations. The sale of the controlling stake was closed the same day.

Even that was not the end of the discord. Mr. Miller and Mr. Pilaro filed a motion in New York State Supreme Court seeking to vacate Mr. Millstein's decision. Mr. Miller, in a press release, said that Mr. Millstein ''refused our repeated requests to present evidence that would have revealed LVMH's true intentions with respect to operating DFS for its own benefit and shown the irreparable damage that LVMH's control will have on DFS.''

A week later, however, Mr. Pilaro agreed to sell his stake, and Mr. Miller threw in the towel. ''They know they will be benefited by this transaction,'' Mr. Nussbaum, the attorney for Mr. Parker, said. ''But it's not going to be theirs anymore. 'It's not going to be my company anymore,' as Miller tends to say. 'It's not going to be my baby.' ''

''That's what this is all about,'' Mr. Nussbaum added. ''This is not about economics and harm; this is about ego and prestige.''

Famed fund operator Sir John Templeton, a Tennessee native, moved to Nassau in 1969 and gave up his U.S. citizenship



Sir John Marks Templeton was born in the small farming town of Winchester, Tennessee in 1912. The first person from his hometown to attend college, Templeton worked his way through Yale University along with the help of scholarships and graduated at the top of his class with a degree in economics. He then attended Oxford University for two years on a Rhodes Scholarship.

Upon completing his studies, the 24 year old Templeton set off on a tour of 35 countries with James Inksetter – a fellow Christian from Oxford. Through creative thrift the friends were able to complete their trip on a very modest budget. He was shocked by the degree of poverty he witnessed in Hong Kong and Calcutta.

Began his career at the Wall Street firm Fenner and Beane. Templeton held stocks for an average of four years and looked for bargains that were largely ignored.

In 1939 Templeton made his first major investment, borrowing money to buy 100 shares of each penny stock selling at $1 or less per share. His investment almost quadrupled in the space of 4 years.

Templeton married his first wife, Judith Folk, at the age of 25. He and his wife set a goal of saving 50% of their income – saving enough to allow Templeton to open his own firm.

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In the 1960′s Templeton gave up his U.S. citizenship and moved to the Bahamas, where there is no income tax or investment tax.

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Templeton prefered to use fundamental analysis rather than technical analysis in his investment decisions. He is famous for making investment decisions counter to what the herd is doing. For example, during the technology bubble of the late 1990′s, he is said to have made $86 million shorting Nasdaq stocks before the market crashed in 2000.

The Templeton Growth Fund, launched in 1954, was a pioneer in the global nature of it’s investments. The fund achieved annualised returns of 15 per cent a year until Templeton retired in 1992. That same year he sold his firm to the Franklin Group.

Templeton, an active philanthropist, set up the Templeton Prize in 1972 and the John Templeton Foundation in 1987, the same year he was knighted. He died at the age of 95 in Nassau, Bahamas.

Sir John Templeton Quotes
“Bull markets are born on pessimism, grown on scepticism, mature on optimism and die on euphoria. The time of maximum pessimism is the best time to buy, and the time of maximum optimism is the best time to sell.”

“An investor who has all the answers doesn’t even understand the questions.”

“Diversify. In stocks and bonds, as in much else, there is safety in numbers.”

“…success is a process of continually seeking answers to new questions.”

“People are always asking me where is the outlook good, but that’s the wrong question…. The right question is: Where is the outlook the most miserable?”

“If you begin with prayer, you will think more clearly and make fewer mistakes.”

“Focus on value because most investors focus on outlooks and trends.”

“Sell when you find a much better bargain to replace what you are selling.”

December 19, 2011 Share on Facebook

Revenue (Abolition of Estate Duty) Ordinance 2005 - Hong Kong Abolish Estate Duty (tax) effect on February 11 2006



An inheritance tax or estate tax is a levy paid by a person who inherits money or property or a tax on the estate (total value of the money and property) of a person who has died.[1] In international tax law, there is a distinction between an estate tax and an inheritance tax: an estate tax is assessed on the assets of the deceased, while an inheritance tax is assessed on the legacies received by the beneficiaries of the estate. However, this distinction is not always respected in the language of tax laws. For example, the "inheritance tax" in the United Kingdom is a tax on the assets of the deceased, and is therefore, strictly speaking, an estate tax.

In some jurisdictions the term used is death duty. For historical reasons that term is used colloquially (though not legally) in the United Kingdom and some Commonwealth nations.

The Revenue (Abolition of Estate Duty) Ordinance 2005 ["the Ordinance"] comes into effect on 11 February 2006. No estate duty affidavits and accounts need to be filed and no estate duty clearance papers are needed for the application for a grant of representation in respect of deaths occurring on or after that date. The estate duty chargeable in respect of estates of persons dying on or after 15 July 2005 and before 11 February 2006 ("transitional estates") with the principal value exceeding $7.5 million will be reduced to a nominal amount of $100.

To ensure that the family or dependents of persons who passed away on or after 11 February 2006 will not be affected by the changes in procedures arising from the abolition of estate duty, the Ordinance empowers the Secretary for Home Affairs ["SHA"] to provide certain support services for estate beneficiaries.

Estate Duty is charged, according to a sliding scale of rates which vary with the date of the deceased's death on the total value of the property situate in Hong Kong which "passes" or is deemed to pass in connection with a person's death, or at the amount of $100 (for transitional estates).

In broad terms, the word "passes" means "changes hands" i.e. where the beneficial ownership, possession or enjoyment of property is derived by one person in consequence of another's death.

Properties liable to estate duty includes:-

(1) everything the deceased owned;
(2) the deceased's share of property jointly owned with others; and
(3) property which the deceased gave away at any time during the three years immediately before his death. The recipients of the gifts are required to account for the duty.
Jointly owned properties are subject to estate duty notwithstanding that its ownership goes to the survivor upon the death of a joint owner. Therefore the surviving joint owner must file an Account for the Commissioner (IRED 12) to account for the estate duty in respect of the joint properties before a clearance can be obtained. 

Exemption

Exemption from Estate Duty is allowed for the following:- 

(1) Foreign assets;

(2) Donations to or for the benefit in Hong Kong of any approved charitable institutions or to the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region for charitable purposes; To download the form http://www.ird.gov.hk/eng/pdf/uf3.pdf 

(3) Any pension, annuity, lump sum, gratuity or other like benefit (including any right or entitlement thereto) which passes on the death of a deceased member of a recognized occupational retirement scheme;

(4) Any property consisting of the benefits under a policy of insurance effected on the life of the deceased;

(5) Any property consisting of the benefits under a provident fund scheme registered under the Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Ordinance;

(6) Property held by the deceased as trustee only in which he never had any beneficial interest at any time during the 3 years immediately before his death; and

(7) As regards deaths on or after 1 April 1994, exemption is allowed of actual burial expenses incurred in Hong Kong, up to a maximum of $50,000.

Matrimonial Home Exemption

Estate Duty shall not be payable in respect of property :- 

(1) which was, immediately before the death of the deceased :
(a) a residence owned by him and occupied by him exclusively for residential purposes; and
(b) the matrimonial home of the deceased and his spouse; and
(2) which is devised or bequeathed by the deceased, or otherwise passes on his death, to or for the benefit of his spouse.

The property to which (1) above applies shall be deemed to have passed on the death of the deceased to or for the benefit of his spouse if he died intestate as to that property and is survived by his spouse. To download the application form, please click here http://www.ird.gov.hk/eng/pdf/u3_sc_e49e.pdf 

For complete information go to http://www.ird.gov.hk/eng/tax/edu.htm 

December 19, 2011 Share on Facebook

Hong Kong's Investor Visa Program by Andrew Lillis, Lehman, Lee & Xu, China



While already a densely populated region, Hong Kong is taking steps to increase its population to make it more competitive regionally and a way of achieving this is by several immigration programs, one of which is the Capital Entrant Investment Scheme. It is particularly attractive as it is entirely a “hands off” scheme; no active role is necessary for the investor to play and there are several pre approved investment funds which can be selected as the basis for investment. Approval times are relatively quick; once an application is made a three month visitor visa is granted. Once the investment is up and running and six month residence permit is granted after which two year renewable residency permits are granted. After seven years of continuous residence in Hong Kong the investor may apply for Right of Abode which is akin to the United States’ permanent Residency status; so long as residence in Hong Kong is maintained the person has the right to reside permanently and is entitled to many of the same benefits as holders of Hong Kong S.A.R. passports. Furthermore those of Chinese nationality may, after seven years ,apply for a Hong Kong S.A.R passport.

Investors are entitled to bring their spouse and dependent children (under the age of 18) and significantly, the dependant spouse is entitled to work in Hong Kong. The minimum investment amount is HK$6,500,000 and the investor must prove that they can support both themselves and dependents without recourse to either the investment return or public funds.

After the expiration of the six month residence permit granted for setting up the investment the applicant is entitled to apply for a Hong Kong I.D. card entitling the holder to health care and education benefits .

All nationals are entitled to apply with the exception of those from Cuba, North Korea, Afghanistan and Albania. Furthermore Chinese nationals (with the ex caption of those from Macau, Taiwan and those holding permanent residence from another country) are presently excluded from the program.

Statistically approval is granted in approximately 60% of cases. The largest group of applicants are Chinese nationals with permanent residence in a foreign country, amounting to 70%of applicants. 20% of applicants are foreign nationals while those from Taiwan and Macau amount to 10% of applicants,

Those investing in property amount for approximately 20% of the amounts invested under the scheme while those investing in specific financial assets (equities, securities, certificates of deposits and eligible collective investment schemes) amount for 80% of the money invested.

The program is appealing to many due to the relative ease of investment and the quick approval time. Unlike through schemes in the United States, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom, investment in Hong Kong does not put an investor onto the path to Hong Kong Chinese citizenship.

Currently there is no “finder’s fee” in place for finding investors for Hong Kong’s scheme.

Regulations pertaining to the scheme can be found on the Hong Kong Immigration Department’s website at http://www.immd.gov.hk/pdforms/id(e)968.pdf  

While already a densely populated region, Hong Kong is taking steps to increase its population to make it more competitive regionally and a way of achieving this is by several immigration programs, one of which is the Capital Entrant Investment Scheme. It is particularly attractive as it is entirely a “hands off” scheme; no active role is necessary for the investor to play and there are several pre approved investment funds which can be selected as the basis for investment. Approval times are relatively quick; once an application is made a three month visitor visa is granted. Once the investment is up and running and six month residence permit is granted after which two year renewable residency permits are granted. After seven years of continuous residence in Hong Kong the investor may apply for Right of Abode which is akin to the United States’ permanent Residency status; so long as residence in Hong Kong is maintained the person has the right to reside permanently and is entitled to many of the same benefits as holders of Hong Kong S.A.R. passports. Furthermore those of Chinese nationality may, after seven years ,apply for a Hong Kong S.A.R passport.

Investors are entitled to bring their spouse and dependent children (under the age of 18) and significantly, the dependant spouse is entitled to work in Hong Kong. The minimum investment amount is HK$6,500,000 and the investor must prove that they can support both themselves and dependents without recourse to either the investment return or public funds.

After the expiration of the six month residence permit granted for setting up the investment the applicant is entitled to apply for a Hong Kong I.D. card entitling the holder to health care and education benefits .

All nationals are entitled to apply with the exception of those from Cuba, North Korea, Afghanistan and Albania. Furthermore Chinese nationals (with the ex caption of those from Macau, Taiwan and those holding permanent residence from another country) are presently excluded from the program.

Statistically approval is granted in approximately 60% of cases. The largest group of applicants are Chinese nationals with permanent residence in a foreign country, amounting to 70%of applicants. 20% of applicants are foreign nationals while those from Taiwan and Macau amount to 10% of applicants,

Those investing in property amount for approximately 20% of the amounts invested under the scheme while those investing in specific financial assets (equities, securities, certificates of deposits and eligible collective investment schemes) amount for 80% of the money invested.

The program is appealing to many due to the relative ease of investment and the quick approval time. Unlike through schemes in the United States, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom, investment in Hong Kong does not put an investor onto the path to Hong Kong Chinese citizenship.

Currently there is no “finder’s fee” in place for finding investors for Hong Kong’s scheme.

Regulations pertaining to the scheme can be found on the Hong Kong Immigration Department’s website at http://www.immd.gov.hk/pdforms/id(e)968.pdf.
 

May 19, 2011 Share on Facebook

USCIS Proposes Significant Enhancements to EB-5 Visa Processing to Help America Win the Future



Actions Will Streamline Program Designed to Create Jobs


WASHINGTON—U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today proposed significant enhancements to the administration of the USCIS Immigrant Investor Program, commonly referred to as the EB-5 Program—transforming the intake and review process for immigrant investors as part of the Obama administration’s continued commitment to improve the legal immigration system and meet our economic and national security needs for the 21st century.

The EB-5 Program makes 10,000 visas available annually to immigrant investors who invest in commercial enterprises that create at least 10 U.S. jobs. EB-5 investors may petition independently or as part of a USCIS-designated Regional Center.

“Congress created the EB-5 Program in 1990 to attract investors and entrepreneurs from around the globe to create jobs in America,” said USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas. “We are dedicated to enhancing this program to ensure that it achieves that goal to the fullest extent possible.”

USCIS is proposing three fundamental changes to the way it processes EB-5 Regional Center filings. First, USCIS proposes to accelerate its processing of applications for job-creating projects that are fully developed and ready to be implemented. USCIS will also give these EB-5 applicants and petitioners the option to request Premium Processing Service, which guarantees processing within 15 calendar days for an additional fee.

Second, USCIS proposes the creation of new specialized intake teams with expertise in economic analysis and the EB-5 Program requirements. EB-5 Regional Center applicants will be able to communicate directly with the specialized intake teams via e-mail to streamline the resolution of issues and quickly address questions or needs related to their applications.

Third, USCIS proposes to convene an expert Decision Board to render decisions regarding EB-5 Regional Center applications. The Decision Board will be composed of an economist and adjudicators and will be supported by legal counsel.

This proposal will be online until June 17, 2011, for public comment—providing stakeholders an opportunity to offer feedback on the proposed changes to the administration of the EB-5 Program.

For more information on USCIS and its programs, please visit www.uscis.gov  or follow us on Twitter@uscis , YouTube (/uscis) and the USCIS blog The Beacon

移民局提議極大地增強了EB-5簽證處理,以幫助美國贏得未來

行動將簡化計劃,旨在創造就業機會


華盛頓的美國公民及移民服務局 (
USCIS) 今天提出極大地增強了行政的移民局投資移民計劃,通常被稱為 EB - 5項目,改造攝入和審查程序投資移民的一部分,奧巴馬政府繼續致力改善移民制度和法律符合我們的經濟和國家安全需要的21世紀。

EB-5項目使萬移民簽證,每年向投資者提供投資商業企業誰創造至少10個美國就業機會。EB-5 投資者可以申請單獨或作為一部分,美國移民局指定的區域中心。

國會建立了 EB-5 項目於 1990年,以吸引投資者和企業家來自世界各地創造就業機會,在美國,說:移民局局長亞歷杭 Mayorkas我們致力於加強這一方案,以確保它實現這一目標,以盡可能充分。

移民局是提出三個基本的方式改變它處理 EB-5區域中心申請。首先,移民局建議加快處理申請,創造就業機會的項目,是全面發展,並準備實施。移民局還將給這些 EB-5申請和請願者的選項,要求加急服務,保證在15日內處理支付額外費用。

二,移民局建議開設新的專業團隊與專業知識的攝入量在經濟分析和
EB-5計劃的要求。EB-5區域中心申請將能夠直接與專門的攝入隊通過電子郵件,以簡化問題的決議,並迅速解決問題或需要與他們的申請。

第三,美國移民局建議召開一個專家委員會,使決策的決定關於
EB-5區域中心的應用。該委員會將決定組成一個經濟學家和評審,並會支持律師。

這項建議將網上,直到
2011617日,徵求公眾意見,利益相關者提供一個機會,提供反饋的修改建議,以行政的 EB-5項目。

欲了解更多信息,移民局和其方案,請訪問
www.uscis.gov   或按照我們在 Twitter@USCIS YouTube 的 (/ USCIS)和移民局博客的燈塔。

December 24 2010

EB-5宣傳遭灌水 不達要求血本無歸 - 投資換綠卡成功率僅五成 



近年在中國大熱的EB-5投資移民簽證項目,被不少招商企業和移民仲介描繪成一個合法獲得居美通行證,同時獲得潛在投資收益的快捷途徑。但公民與移民局(USCIS)的統計數據卻顯示,這種聽似輕而易舉的安全路徑其實風險巨大。在該項目20年的歷史中,有近半數申請者最終未能拿到永久居留權,許多人更是血本無歸。

路透社
22日報道,近年來不少亟需現金的美國企業在仲介公司幫助下,利用EB-5投資移民簽證政策尋找願移民美國的外國投資者。移民局統計顯示,2010年有近2000人申請EB-5簽證,創新高。其中來自中國大陸的申請最多,為772人,其次是韓國295人,英國135人,台灣94人,印度62人。

過去
3年,申請加入EB-5項目、吸引移民投資的美國企業激增了20倍。2007年此類企業只有11家,但如今已增至117家,還有88家正在申請過程中。許多新加盟者都是苦於國內資金枯竭,四處尋找額外資金保證項目進行的商業地產開發商。

然而對潛在的外國投資者來說,當中的風險卻幾乎被項目各方所忽視或迴避,甚至包括移民局本身。移民局發言人本特利曾宣稱,絕大多數
EB-5投資者及其家屬最終都能獲得永久居民身分,但路透社分析移民局的數據卻發現事實並非如此。自1990年以來,共有13719名移民投資者申請EB-5簽證,其中4489人被拒,原因包括不能向政府證明資金來源合法等,另有848人申請仍在審理中。而在8382名允許進入項目獲得有條件綠卡的投資者中,只有5748人理論上可以申請正式綠卡。20年間,他們中只有3127人得到正式綠卡,另外2621人要麼申請被拒要麼官司纏身,或是放棄投資返回家鄉。也就是說,僅有54%進入項目的移民最終獲得正式綠卡。因此,投資者在申請EB-5計劃時,應該三思而行。

為爭取到投資,許多招商企業和仲介在宣傳過程中都暗示或直言,他們的投資項目是政府承保的,投資者一定會獲頒綠卡,但實際上越來越多的企業中途未經移民局許可就實質性改變項目,從而導致投資者的綠卡被剝奪或拒絕。還有一些招商企業做出的數年後可全額收回投資的承諾,也違反了
EB-5項目最基本的規定。

另外還有專家擔心,由於美國經濟低迷,失業率高企,許多新項目或許無法滿足創造就業機會的要求,導致更多投資者被迫離境,而且無權上訴。

總體而言,路透社的報告顯示,
EB-5並非是一個外國富裕投資者安全定居美國的捷徑,過去的教訓值得警惕。移民局每年面向外國投資者及直系親屬留出1萬個綠卡名額。要符合條件,申請者必須至少投資50萬美元,在2年內創造10個就業崗位。

EB-5: American dream sold to Chinese people may turn ruinous

Jason Lee, an owner of Maslink, a firm that connects cash-hungry American businesses with Chinese investors keen to move to the United States, is selling the American dream to Chinese people right from his office building in downtown Shanghai. His company is part of a global cottage industry which over past years profit from a program that allows foreigners who invest in certain small U.S. businesses to get on the fast track to U.S. residency and citizenship.

The immigration program known as EB-5 is very popular and the interest in it is high. Exploiting such conditions Maslink has opened offices in Shanghai, Beijing, Hangzhou and Chongqing and is expanding to two more Chinese cities.

The whole industry works to promote EB-5 as a quick, easy way to gain legal entry to the United States -- and to make a potential profit in the bargain. Thus, in 2010 about 2,000 potential immigrants most of whom from China applied for EB-5 visas, the most ever in a single year, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the agency that oversees the program. Such an increase was partly driven by a 20 fold growth of the number of U.S. companies looking to participate.

However bright and rosy the program may position itself immigrants should be very sensible and judicious because there are many people who failed to get both their visas and their profits.

Over the past two decades, thousands of immigrants have been burned by misrepresentations that EB-5 promoters make about the program, both inside and outside the United States.

"I always tell the people who approach me that the EB-5 investment program is a risky business," said Brian Su, a Springfield, Illinois-based immigration consultant who publishes a popular blog on the program. "If you cannot bear the loss, the total loss of your investment, don't play this game."

Meantime, all those who support and promote the program always downplay the risks including USCIS itself. Chris Bentley, the agency's spokesman, for instance, said "the overwhelming majority" of EB-5 investors and their dependents go on to qualify for permanent resident status. An analysis of USCIS's own data, however, suggests that's not true. Nearly half the immigrant investors who won EB-5 visas during its 20-year history have failed to obtain permanent residency.

The rise in recent years of an unregulated industry paid to fill the EB-5 pipeline with rich foreigners has only added to the dangers. The U.S. businesses the immigrants are now steered to -- by firms like Maslink and by U.S. immigration attorneys -- are often the ones paying the highest commissions, not the ones offering the best investments, according to the industry insiders who spoke to Reuters.

"It's the Wild West," said Henry Liebman, a Seattle attorney and developer who has been doing EB-5 funded projects almost since the program's inception.

"You're dealing with a bunch of unregulated companies, most of them small, that aren't registered with anyone and can do whatever they want," he said. "It's definitely buyer beware."

Warning Issued by Chinese Government to EB-5 Investors

China Public Security Bureau Points Out Huge Risk of US EB-5 Projects

Recently, at a meeting of “Exit and Entry Service Association” held by the Division of Exit and Entry Administration Department of Public Security of Canton Province, the speaker from the division relayed to the attendees the instructions of the Ministry of Public Security of the People’s Republic of China and pointed out the huge risk of US EB-5 Projects. According to the rule of The Ministry of Public Security, all agencies engaged in EB-5 projects must supply the legal documents signed with a foreign partner (those documents need to be notarized by foreign bodies). Agents should tell the investors the risks involved with EB-5 investment. Some immigration professionals state clearly that people should be aware of the two risks, “investing fund” and “conditional green card,” even though the EB-5 program is strongly accepted by immigration agencies and applicants.

Current Status: EB-5 Applicants Increased Dramatically in Mainland China

The EB-5 Program was first introduced to China at the end of 2005. With increasing trade between China and the US, more and more Chinese entrepreneurs need the green card to go to the US for business purposes, expanding their business in the US, as well as sending their kids to study in US. The EB-5 Investment Immigration Program has been expanded since 2007. LiJuan Zhou, CEO of the overseas branch of HONGHAI, said that there are now way more Chinese EB-5 applicants than Korean applicants according to the latest statistic report from OCT–2008 to Sept, 2009–by USCIS. 1795 Chinese from mainland China applied for EB-5 besides 142 Chinese from Taiwan. Sheng Liu, General Manager of the US Project Division of Fei Yang Group, said that USCIS issued more than 1800 green cards to investors in 2009, almost double those issued in 2008. Chinese applicants obtained one fifth of the total green cards, a little bit less than Korean applicants, but the number of Chinese investors who applied for the green card is increasing the most.

The EB-5 marketing promotion in China also expanded rapidly. For example, in 2005, there was only one EB-5 project being promoted in Guang Zhou. At the end of 2009, however, there were more than 20 EB-5 projects introduced with different scales–some projects are big and some are small, such as a restaurant project.

Analysis: EB-5 “Flexible Immigration Requirement”

Senior Immigration Consultant of GuoFeng LLC, ShaoHeng Lin, indicates the reason why the EB-5 program wins the popularity among the immigration agencies and investors in the last two years is the EB-5 “ Flexible Immigration Requirement.”
The EB-5 “Flexible Immigration Requirement” gives you the flexibility to do what you want in the USA: No degree requirement, any age, and no entrepreneur experience requirement. Any person who reaches 21 years old and shows a source of $500,000 legally (business income, stock gain, house sale, house loan, gifts, etc.) can apply.

In Canton, A lot of people can easily meet the EB-5 requirement. For instance, a kid who wants to study in US, as long as he is 21 years old and has a $500,000 investment fund from his parents can apply for it and come back to China with a green card after graduation.

The whole family can get the green card if one of the households applies for EB-5. For many Chinese individuals and families, it’s an easy and fast way to get a green card. It’s also very attractive to the immigration agency. They can turn around cash in a much shorter time since the EB-5 program process only take about 3-8 months.

Risks: “Investment Fund” and “Green Card” are two major risks

According to the EB-5 program, foreign immigration applicants must invest in a commercial enterprise that will benefit the US economy and create 10 full-time jobs in order to get a “conditional green card” for a two year period. Prior to the two-year anniversary of the granting, the EB-5 applicants must submit supporting documents stating they have invested or are still in the process of investing to remove the “condition” and become permanent US residents. 2010 is the first “mature year” for EB-5 investors’ “5 year terms.” Whether the EB-5 investors can meet these two requirements is a very sensitive topic. However, recently the Ministry of Public Security has warned potential immigration applicants that EB-5 projects promoted by some of the immigration agencies belong to private equity activity and have huge risks.

YouWen Zhen, General Manager of GuoHeLi investment consulting LLC in Shen Zheng, pointed out two huge risks:

First, Investing Fund Risk: The investors need to fund the project first before getting the visa, and EB-5 projects are not financially guaranteed by the US government, The investing fund cannot be withdrawn within 5 years. The investment must be truly at risk. From the EB-5 procedure, the applicants must fund $500,000, a huge amount once they start to apply through the agency. While Canada’s investor immigration funding is backed up by the Canadian government, USCIS asks all regional centers to clearly state in their contract with EB-5 investors that EB-5 investment must be “at risk” and there can be no mention of redemption rights or guarantees. However, some of the immigration agencies and American personnel ignore this rule and promote EB-5 illegally, as private equity.

Second, Green Card Risk: The EB-5 applicants cannot control and manage the investing process themselves. If the investment failed and did not create 10 jobs during the two years, their green card will be canceled. At the beginning, the applicants and family only get a “conditional green card.” There is a long way to go to get the permanent green card; in case the investment fails, they not only lose the green card, but also the investment fund. In China, there are EB-5 investors who got “conditional green cards,” but as for today, none of them have successfully changed to I-829. We encourage people to do their own due diligence, especially studying the mutual fund companies who actually run the EB-5 projects before they choose to invest in the project.

From China Daily: China Still Fastest Growing EB-5 Visa Market China Daily Interviews EB-5 Marketing Consultant Brian Su

According to China Daily, nearly 2,000 Chinese investors participated in the EB-5 visa program last year. In an interview with EB-5 marketing consultant Brian Su, China Daily touches on the popularity of the program among China’s “most capable investors” as well as the explosive growth of regional centers during the past year.

EB-5 program: Treat or trick for Chinese investors by Tan Yingizi, China Daily

WASHINGTON undefined Brian Dickens, an administrator in Idaho’s Department of Commerce, is busy luring Chinese investors to his state through the EB-5 regional center pilot project in the United States.

With US economy still relatively stagnant, local governments are seeking more foreign investment. One way they are doing so is the EB-5 (Employment Based Visa, Category 5) program, which some call the “green card for money” program.

“The competition among the US EB-5 regional centers is strong,” Dickens, who is in charge of setting up Idaho’s regional centers, told China Daily.

“Two years ago, there were only 19 EB-5 regional centers in the US and now we have more than 90 of them. And the number is increasing fast.”

The EB-5 program essentially makes it possible for foreigners to get permanent US residency in exchange for helping establish US businesses and creating jobs.

Under the program, foreign investors must finance commercial projects in the US by investing either $500,000 or $1 million and create at least 10 full-time jobs. They can set up a new commercial enterprise, invest in a troubled business or invest directly through the EB-5 regional center pilot program.

All investors must undergo a background check, identify the source of their wealth and maintain the 10 full-time jobs they create. The investor, as well as the investor’s spouse and children, can obtain US citizenship after five years.

At least 3,000 temporary visas for foreign investors are available through the program.

The regional centers offer a wide range of investment opportunities in various industries, including real estate, retail trade, agriculture, manufacturing, construction, technology, clean energy, professional services and the arts.

California, which has the largest number of Chinese immigrants of any US state, has 26 EB-5 regional centers so far.

Seemingly eager to catch up, landlocked, mountainous Idaho, which is home to only 1.5 million people, is setting up what will be its third regional center in less than half a year. The state’s regional centers mainly offer investment opportunities in mining and resort projects.

The Idaho state government regards China as one of its major potential markets for the program and has hired Chinese market specialists to help sell the state as an investment destination.

Dickens made his third trip to China, bringing along Idaho governor C.L. “Butch” Otter to promote the regional centers.

Idaho launched its first regional center in December last year and the second in January. It has not had any success story yet out of the program. But the centers are still new and hopes are still high.

“It will happen soon,” said Dickens.

Immigrating to the US is still a popular move among rich Chinese people, although it’s harder than migrating to Canada or Australia, other favored destinations, EB-5 program marketing expert Brian Su told China Daily.

The program kicked off in the late 1990s, loosely modeled on a successful initiative started more than 20 years ago in Canada to lure Hong Kong investors. Mainland investors became eligible only four or five years ago, Su said.

“But China is the fastest growing EB-5 market,” said Su.

Last year, China surpassed South Korea to become the largest source of EB-5 participants, with 1,979 Chinese people getting visas through the program. South Koreans got about 900.

“The US is still a huge attraction to Chinese people and is always the first pick for the most capable investors,” said Su. “And the EB-5 program can be a fast track to a US green card.”

In major Chinese cities, such as Beijing, Shanghai and Hangzhou, wealthy Chinese are often invited to glamorous EB-5 promotions events, where high-level state officials greet them.

Most of the invitees to such events are entrepreneurs who start private companies or those who made their fortune from China’s real estate bubble.

“They are not sophisticated investors,” said Dickens. “They are extremely conservative with lower risk tolerance than other foreign investors.”

Chinese investors often choose to invest in familiar industries, such as real estate and retail trade.

Potential investor’s main concern, aside from the security of the investment, is whether or not a project will be able to create the 10 jobs necessary to eventually get a green card, according to Sima Muroff, the managing partner of one of Idaho’s regional centers.

He said his center is the first to offer an insurance program designed to repay investors their original investment amount in case the projects do not generate enough profit to cover the original capital costs.

Even so, Su is cautious about promoting the program in China.

“It is a risky investment,” he said. “The number of regional centers is growing too fast and they can barely control the quality of the projects.”

Dickens agreed that only 20 percent of all the EB-5 investment projects in the US are compelling.

Immigration lawyer Zhang Runan in Washington said she also hesitates to recommend EB-5 projects to her clients, most of whom are not serious business investors but just want a quick green card so their children can go to school in the US.

“It (EB-5) is a new thing in the US, so the whole market is not well regulated and contains a mix of good and bad projects,” Zhang told China Daily.

“Even on the government administration side, they are still trying to figure out how to coordinate with different departments, which means the processing the paperwork usually takes a really long time.”

Zhang said one of her clients was involved in an EB-5 project in New York in which none of the investors received a green card.

“So investors need to be warned of the risk,” she said.

January 4, 2005

CONSULATE GENERAL OF THE
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
HONG KONG

January 4, 2005

Dear Sir/Madam:


I am writing to inform you of an important upcoming change to our nonimmigrant visa process.

On December 17, 2004, the Consulate General announced a new initiative to speed visa processing. As of January 10, 2005, all applicants for non-immigrant visas to the United States should use the new online electronic visa application form to complete their visa applications. Those who do not will only be interviewed on Wednesdays and Thursdays. The electronic form contains a bar code that allows Consulate staff to electronically transfer the applicant's data to a computer record. This innovation significantly reduces the applicant's waiting time during the visa application process.

The on-line application form, available in both English and Chinese, can be accessed through the website of the U.S. Consulate General:
http://hongkong.usconsulate.gov. This website contains detailed instructions on how to fill out the form. Applicants should follow the instructions carefully, print out all the pages and bring them to their visa interview.

The Consulate General continues to allow students, exchange visitors, petition-based visa applicants, crew members and Macau residents to walk in without an appointment from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. daily. However, if they do so on any day other than Wednesday or Thursday, they will need to submit an electronic visa application form, as do all other applicants.

We look forward to working with you as we implement our new system.

Sincerely,
Michelle M. Gidaspova
Chief of Nonimmigrant Visa Unit

你的顧客應該對投資移民之優先考慮是投資的可靠性, 再者為投資利潤.在簽證審查 條件還沒有許可之前, 投資人有權取回其資金.

夏威夷商務旅游辦事處通過的最少的投資金額為每一位移民家庭五十萬元.可讓有資格 投資者, 其配偶和未成年, 未結婚子女合法的申請美國永久居留簽證.

申請簽證之前,必需將五十萬元存放到美國的個人信托基金或悵號,包括法律條文的 正式契約. 如果移民申請人或家人之簽證於付錢後 一百八十天 內不能批準, 可取消投資契約,並全數領回其訂金.

In October 1996, the State of Hawaii became the first and only state to be designated as a special regional center" by the U. S. Immigration and Naturalization Service. This designation when coupled with the U. S. Immigration and Naturalization special "pilot" program makes it more attractive than even before for an Immigrant Investor to obtain a permanent U. S. visa.

After deciding on a qualified reputable investment by reviewing and approving the actual legal documents with the CPA and Immigration Attorney, the Immigrant Investor make an $500,000 refundable deposit into an escrow account. The money will remain in escrow until the investor receives his approval from the U. S. Immigration and Naturalization Service. The time required for the Immigrant Investor to receive his approval once his application for a temporary investor visa (known as EB5) has been submitted, is estimated to take approximately three to six months.

Investors will be holding limited partners position (limited liabilities). Your Law Firm, Attorney, or Attorneys retained by our firm are available to handle all legal works. Visit our internet home page at http://www.johnsonchoi.com/resume1.htm for additional information. I am looking forward to hear from you very soon. Feel free to call, fax or email our office if you have any questions.

January 12, 2004

EB-5 Visa Could Cost Investors Millions!

Quoted from a prominent Attorney from San Francisco today, " Great information release. I have seen a number of fraud cases on these EB-5 scheme. Most of them prey on the intense interest of immigrants to come to America. The business aspects must come first. However potential immigrants are blind sided by the promise of permanent residency in America."

We have received inquiries from Asia regularly regarding to various legal ways to obtain permanent status in the United States. According to all reputable attorneys we have spoken to, an eligible investor should have no problem applying under the EB-5 visa. Most of the problem came from the promoters of EB-5 visa using the EB-5 visa as a mean to fund their projects. In the past many EB-5 investors have seen their US$500,000 to US$1,000,000 investments turned into multi-millions dollar loses. Many States use EB-5 visa to attract investments with promoters NOT affiliated with State agencies. It is the promoter, in many occasions using the State agencies while working through the program to mislead investors as a State sponsored investment scheme.

The legal fee to file for the EB-5 visa is small (US$10,000 - $30,000) in comparison to the amount of investment (US$500,000 - $1,000,000) under the program. You want to find out if there is any financial arrangement between the attorney, the promoters and the States (conflict of interest) to promote any particular EB-5 related investments.

You may also want to use a third party consultant to investigate the feasibility of the proposed EB-5 investment scheme.

We are hereby providing some basic information about the EB-5 Visas for Immigrant Investors***

On November 12, 2003, the Senate passed by unanimous consent S.1685, a bill to extend the employment eligibility pilot program for five years and to expand it to all 50 states. The bill would also require a report on how to resolve problems with the program. On December 3, 2003, the President signed into law a bill extending and expanding the employment eligibility verification pilot program. The law also extends the EB-5 immigrant investor regional center pilot program.

Under section 203(b)(5) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. § 1153(b)(5), 10,000 immigrant visas per year are available to qualified individuals seeking permanent resident status on the basis of their engagement in a new commercial enterprise.

Of the 10,000 investor visas (i.e., EB-5 visas) available annually, 5,000 are set aside for those who apply under a pilot program involving an INS-designated “Regional Center.”

Just because a visa is available or seems right for you, it doesn't mean it's possible for you to get it. That's sometimes the case with the EB-5 visa, which is designed for immigrant investors. Congress created this visa in 1990, but the INS has taken a series of steps severely limiting its use.

In 1998, for instance, the INS restricted some methods of investing in US businesses. What's more, the INS launched a series of investigations against companies assisting people in establishing investments for the purpose of immigrating to the US under the EB-5 visa. Given all this, is it possible to get an EB-5 visa? It is, but only with careful planning.

Congress created the EB-5 visa category as part of the Immigration Act of 1990, hoping to attract foreign capital to the US and create jobs for American workers. Under the program, 10,000 visas are available each year, and 3,000 of them are reserved for people who participate in a pilot program designed to target low-employment areas.

Basic Requirements

Applicants must meet three basic requirements to obtain an EB-5 visa:

- Establishment of a business.
- Investment of at least $1 million in the business (though $500,000 is acceptable in certain cases).
- Creation of full-time employment for at least 10 US workers.
- Ways to Establish a Business

To establish a business, you can create an original enterprise, purchase one and restructure or reorganize it, or expand an existing business through investment. You must be actively involved in the business, not just an investor.

Investment Essentials

As for the investment, it can be made in a number of forms, including cash, equipment, inventory and other property. A $1 million investment is typically required, but $500,000 is acceptable if the business is established in a "targeted employment area." Targeted employment areas include rural areas and regions with an unemployment rate that's 150 percent of the national average.

An individual may invest the required amount alone, create the business with another immigrant investor, or even US citizens or others not seeking EB-5 visas. If the investment is being made with others, each person who is seeking classification as an immigrant investor must have invested the required $500,000 or $1 million.

Job Creation

The investment must create at least 10 full-time jobs. Spouses or children may not be included in calculating the job-creation requirement. What's more, part-timers may not be used in the calculations.

Conditional Permanent Residence

In order to deter fraud, immigrant investors, their spouses and dependent children are subject to "conditional" permanent residence for a two-year period. After two years, the entrepreneur is eligible to file to end the conditional status. To do that, the entrepreneur must have continuously maintained the investment during the conditional residence period. The entrepreneur's residence may be terminated if it is found the business was not established or was established solely to evade immigration laws. The INS will examine the business at the end of the two-year period to determine whether or not the individual has complied with all of the EB-5 visa's requirements.

COURT DEALS BLOW TO EB-5 CASES

A federal district court in Hawaii has issued a decision severely limiting the avenues of recourse for those who were denied immigrant investor visa status when the INS policy on adjudication of such cases changed. Readers may be familiar with the ongoing disputes about the immigrant investor visa program, commonly known as the EB-5 visa.

This category allows a person to gain permanent residence through the investment of at least million (500,000 if the investment is made in certain areas). After the program was created in 1990, many enterprises sprang up designed to assist those who were interested in the program. One of the most common investment plans allowed the intending immigrant to collect interest on the amount invested, and guaranteed that the investment could be returned after permanent residency was granted. After a few years of approving petitions submitted by such companies, the INS began to express concern that the investments were not being made in a way that followed regulations. A hold on processing was implemented while the INS investigated the matter.

During the summer of 1998, the INS issued four legally binding decisions (referred to as precedent) on all future EB-5 applications. The important result was a stricter attitude toward examining the nature of the investment. Investment plans such as those described above were no longer sufficient for the EB-5 program.

In the case that prompted this lawsuit, five people filed EB-5 applications after investing in R.L. Investment Limited Partners. Each of these applications was filed at the same time. Four were granted, but a fifth was delayed because of the INS processing hold. When adjudication began again following the release of the precedent decisions, this fifth application was denied.

Following an appeal to the Administrative Appeals Office, which was denied, the fifth investor filed suit against the INS, alleging that the denial of his application was an abuse of discretion, and that in adopting the new precedent decisions the INS failed to follow required rules for creating new regulations. The district court disagreed, and found for the INS.

On the first issue – whether the INS abused its discretion in denying a case after approving four identical ones – the court found the answer was clearly no. For a decision of the INS to be an abuse of discretion, it must be contrary to the language of a statute or regulation, or impose an additional requirement not found in the statute or regulation. According to the court, the definition of “invest” found in the precedent decisions is not contrary to the statute or regulations, in which investment is not defined. Although there may be other reasonable definitions of investment, it is not the role of the court to make such a policy decision.

The court also found that the INS did not violate rules for creating new regulations. Under the Administrative Procedures Act, “legislative” rules, those that create a change in policy, must be subject to a notice and comment period during which the public can submit reactions to a proposed agency rule. Such procedures are not required for interpretive rules, which are those that clarify existing regulations. Prior to the 1998 precedent decisions, the INS had not issued any official statement regarding its adjudication of EB-5 applications. There were some unofficial guidance documents, many of which were available to immigration practitioners, but none of them were official. Because these unofficial documents had not been subjected to the notice and comment process, they could not constitute regulations with the force of law. Therefore, the INS was not required to have a notice and comment period before adopting its new interpretation.

INS ISSUES RESTRICTIVE INTERPRETATION ON VALIDITY OF CERTAIN TYPES OF EB-5 INVESTOR GREEN CARD FINANCIAL TRANSACTIONS

INS General Counsel David Martin has issued a memorandum that will surely be a major blow to a number of EB-5 Immigrant Investor Programs. Generally speaking, EB-5 green cards are available to persons who invest a million dollars in a commercial enterprise (or $500,000 in an enterprise in a high unemployment or rural area) and create ten jobs. Martin reviewed a number of different EB-5 petitions and determined that some of the most common types of EB-5 investments do not comply with the existing statute and regulations.

The plans reviewed by the INS involve some combination of the following:

1) the use of a down payment of cash with the remainder of the alien's contribution in the form of a promissory note;

2) a multi-year installment payment plan on a promissory note with a substantial balloon payment after the conditions on the alien's lawful permanent resident status are removed;

3) an option given to the alien to sell his or her investment for a fixed price that may be less than, equal to or greater than the alien's cash contribution (usually exercisable before or at the same time as the balloon payment on the promissory note is due);

4) an option given to the enterprise or limited partnership to buy the investment at a fixed price (usually exercisable before or at the same time as the balloon payment on the promissory note is due);

5) a provision that allows or requires the commercial enterprise to place sufficient cash into a bank account to guarantee that funds will be available to repay the alien if the alien exercises the sell option;

6) withholding of a portion of the alien's capital contribution for attorneys' and finders' fees and other administrative costs; and

7) a guaranteed return on the cash portion of the alien's "investment."

Martin noted that the business plans in question typically involve the creation of a limited partnership that pools the money of alien investors to invest in either a new or troubled business in the United States, frequently in a "regional center."

The first basic problem noted by Martin with these plans is that the new commercial enterprise being established involves a partnership that is supposed to serve as a conduit for placing the aliens' capital to start-up or existing businesses that will create or sustain employment, but, because of various provisions in the investment or limited partnership agreements, only a small amount of the alien investor's money or other capital is actually able to reach the operations of the employment-creating or preserving business. Furthermore, the aliens appear to receive relatively risk-free debt interests rather than equity interests in the new business.

Martin addressed seven legal questions and provided summary answers as well as an extensive legal analysis. We will shortly be posting the entire memo in the Documents Collection of our web page (http://www.visalaw.com/docs).

The following are Martin's summary comments:

1. Do investment plans that involve guaranteed interest payments, buy and sell options at a fixed price other fair market value, and other debt features comport with the statutory and regulatory requirements?

No. Such plans appear in fact to constitute "loans" or other debt agreements, and therefore fail to meet the definition of "invest" in our regulations. The regulations expressly prohibit the use of debt arrangements as part of contributions of capital being invested.

2. Do investment plans involving different combinations of provisions designed to reduce or eliminate the risk to the alien's capital by limiting the amount of capital actually available for the operations of the job-creating enterprise comport with the statutory and regulatory requirements?

No. Such plans impermissibly prevent the alien from placing the required amount of capital at risk of loss in the employment-generating business. This is equally true where the new commercial enterprise is in the business of lending capital to job creating businesses and acting as a mere conduit between the alien and the job-creating business. Such plans use a number provision to shield the alien's capital from risk including the deposit of cash in bank accounts to guarantee repayment of the alien's money, the use of promissory notes with large final "balloon" payments combined with the option to "sell" the alien's investment in the business at a fixed price and guaranteed returns on the alien's cash outlays. Such plans appear to continue to allow the alien to withdraw his or her capital prior to the time the balloon payment is due. In addition, the use of promissory notes in such plans fails to meet the requirement that an alien invest "capital" having a fair market value equal to or greater than the amount required in the statute.

3. Do investment plans that allow an alien to earn a fixed return on his investment at the same time that he or she continues to make installment payments on a promissory note comport with statutory and regulatory requirements?

No. These plans effectively permit the alien to reinvest his or her return on the initial cash contribution in the new commercial enterprise. Therefore the alien is not infusing new capital into the enterprise or the U.S. economy in the statutorily required amount.

4. Should the Service request that the Department of State cease issuing visas and return petitions for revocation based on investment plans involving these terms.

Yes, for the reasons stated in summary conclusions 1, 2 and 3.

5. Do plans like those reviewed by our office comport with existing law?

No. Based on our review of a number of approved and pending petitions filed with the Texas Service Center, we have concluded that they fail to meet the requirements of the statute or the Service's regulations. Any plans which involve similar terms would also fail to meet current statutory and regulatory requirements.

6. Is the Service estopped or otherwise precluded from denying or revoking petitions filed by aliens investing in the plans like those under review based on past approval of petitions earlier policy statements, or informal statements by Service officials?

No. Under the Administrative Procedure Act and relevant cases, the Service is not bound by its pervious decisions in adjudicating visa petitions. We recommend, however, that the Service issue a memorandum to the field consistent with this memorandum and publish that memorandum in the Federal Register.

7. Is the Service estopped or otherwise precluded from terminating the status of a conditional resident alien who has invested in plans like those under review based on past approval of petitions, policy statements, or informal statements by Service officials?

No. Under the Administrative Procedure Act and relevant case law, the Service is not bound by its initial grant of a petition when terminating conditional residence status based on a visa petition that was granted in error or based on the fact that the alien is subject to termination under section 216A of the Act. We recommend, however, that the Service issue a memorandum to the field consistent with this memorandum and publish that memorandum in the Federal Register.

The last two findings will be especially disturbing to persons who have already come to the US with EB-5 visas covered in the memorandum. Whether the INS will, in fact, actually go back and revoke previously approved green cards remains to be seen.

The INS and State Department have already, however, circulated memos to the field asking that EB-5 visas be reviewed using the General Counsel memorandum for guidance.

In a related matter, the California Commissioner of Corporations Dale Bonner announced that he ordered InterBank Immigration Services, Inc. of Herndon, Virginia, one of the best known EB-5 investment firms, to stop offering investments to non-US citizens. Bonner noted that while no fraud is alleged, the firm is illegally selling securities in California. Bonner noted that the state securities laws are intended ensure that investors are investing in something real. According to Bonner, the protections are particularly important where the offering is targeted to non-US citizens who may be desperate to find a legal way to stay in this country.

***Material from the immigration law firm of Siskind, Susser, Haas & Devine was used in this report. This information is provided as a public service and not intended as legal advice or the establishment of an attorney-client relationship.

Avoid The Pitfalls !

Many foreign nationals seeking to live in the United States were presented with the investment options that do not qualify them to obtain the immigration Visa. These people had lost substantial amount of money by following those irresponsible & ill advises from non-qualified professionals.

Selection of Reputable Advisors & Investment Program.

Attractive high return investment should not be the only driving force to act. In fact, if the investment sound too good to be true, you should use the prudent man approach. Like the old saying "if it sound too good to be true, it is probably not true."

Who are we ?

We have been in business for more than 16 years. We are tax and financial consultant currently assisting our clients to obtain Permanent Visa to the USA. We are currently working with a number of reputable immigration attorneys to assist our clients in obtaining the Immigration Visa to the United States. Many of them were employed by the U.S. Immigration Office prior to setting up their own Law practices.

TO FIND OUT MORE, PLEASE WRITE, FAX OR E-MAIL US:

Address: 1188 Bishop St Ste 3403, Honolulu, Hawaii 96813, USA.

Phone: (808) 524-5738; Fax: (877) 852-8548

Professional Services:
*All Legal Works Through Designated Attorneys,
*All Tax Work Through Terry S. C. Wong, CPA, Inc.
(*Independently Operated)

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Johnson W. K. Choi, MBA, RFC.
johnsonchoi@johnsonchoi.com

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Most recent revision Sunday, July 17 2011