The Securities and Exchange Commission is suing a Chicago-based senior living community developer, accusing him of improperly commingling and misusing some of the $88.7 million raised from foreign investors to finance the construction of an assisted living and memory care project in Wildwood.
He also allegedly promised to build other properties in Illinois and Florida.
Seyed Taher Kameli and his companies, Chicagoland Foreign Investment Group and American Enterprise Pioneers, have been charged with defrauding at least 226 investors — most of them from China or Iran — who were participating in the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program from 2009 to 2016.
Money for the Wildwood project was being collected under the name First American Assisted Living Inc. according to the SEC Complaint.
The $18 million project went before a special magistrate in Wildwood in 2015. Under the name Bright Oaks ALF and Memory Care, Kameli promised 58 assisted living facility beds and 33 memory care beds at the intersection of Powell Road and Huey Street. You can learn more about its application before the special magistrate at this link: Bright Oaks ALF and Memory Care
HarborChase has since taken over that location.
In this video, Kameli attempts to lure foreign investors:
The SEC alleges that Kameli and his companies falsely claimed that each investor’s $500,000 would be used to help construct a specific assisted living or memory care project and create at least 10 permanent full-time jobs within that project, thus qualifying each investor for a potential path to permanent U.S. residency through the EB-5 program.
Rather than use investor funds solely for the senior living project for which an investor was solicited, however, Kameli allegedly diverted millions of dollars to fund other projects and to make unrelated payments, the SEC alleges, a practice that was contrary to representations to investors and to the requirements of the EB-5 program. Kameli also allegedly spent a significant portion of investor proceeds for the benefit of himself, his brother and his companies.
Kameli and his companies sought investors for four communities in Illinois and four in Florida, according to the SEC. Only one community, Bright Oaks of Aurora in Aurora, Ill. has been completed. However, its occupancy is very low.
Communities in Elgin and Fox Lake, Ill. are partially constructed, the SEC said. There has been no construction on promised properties in Wildwood, Fort Myers, Juniper and Naples.
The SEC’s complaint, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, seeks a temporary restraining order and preliminary, permanent and conduct-based injunctions as well as the disgorgement of ill-gotten gains. The SEC is also seeking a court-ordered asset freeze and appointment of a receiver over some of the companies involved in the alleged fraud.