Millions Worth Of SGV Property To Be Relinquished By Ex-Wife Of Chinese Fugitive
Shilan Zhao, the ex-wife of Jianjun Qiao, the third most-wanted government official in China, will give up about $28 million of her assets in the San Gabriel Valley and other U.S. regions after officials accused her of lying about her marriage status on a visa application, reports the L.A. Times.
These properties include four locations in Monterey Park: the Hong Kong Supermarket on Garfield Avenue (which is listed at more than $12 million, according to the County Assessor), a Best Western Inn, as well as an apartment complex and an empty lot. Zhao also owned properties in Washington and in the Flushing area of New York.
In 2015, Zhao and Qiao, who are both now 53, were charged in a federal grand jury indictment with "conspiracy to commit immigration fraud and international transport of stolen funds, as well as conspiracy to commit money laundering," according to a release by the Department of Justice. The U.S. Attorney’s Office said that the couple had lied on their application for a visa under the EB-5 immigrant investor program, which grants visas to immigrant investors and their family members with the promise that they will put up $500,000 or $1 million investments in U.S. enterprises. The problem was that Zhao and Qiao weren't actually married, as they had registered for a divorce back in 2001 in China, according to court records.
There was also the matter of where they'd obtained their money. Qiao was the former government official who was in charge of the purchasing and selling of grain in the Henan province of China. He is accused of embezzling funds during his time at his post, and using that money to purchase properties in the U.S. Qiao is currently listed as a wanted person on China's "Operation Skynet," an anti-corruption campaign started in 2015 that's aimed, in part, to extradite fugitives who are abroad. (Author's note: Does Skynet also include a cybernetics program?)
According to the Times, Qiao and Zhao transferred about $4 million in embezzled funds from China when they arrived in the U.S. in 2009.
Zhao, who was arrested in 2015, pleaded guilty on Monday before a U.S. District judge, and was scheduled for sentencing hearing for November 6. Zhao faces a maximum five years in federal prison. Qiao is still being sought by authorities.
"There is a lawful process that can be followed to obtain legal status in this nation. Those who attempt to undermine the system by fraud threaten our national security and compromise the attempts of other immigrants who follow the rules to lawfully gain entry to the United States," said United States Attorney Eileen Decker in a release.
As noted at Bloomberg, China and the U.S. have no extradition treaty. So when China wants a fugitive to be sent back, the onus is on them to provide evidence of the suspect's guilt.