Steal a million here or there and come to America.
That seems to be the latest twist in immigrant problems that American authorities are trying to unwind.
Affluent politicians and businessmen believed to be engaged in corruption back home are running to a haven where their wealth and influence often keeps them from being arrested.
Entering America various of visas, including one meant to encouragement investment, some apply for asylum. The frequently popular target for persons seeking to evade criminal charges is not a banana republic in South America.
It’s Nevada, USA.
Officials running from prosecution in Colombia, China, South Korea, Bolivia, and Panama are seeking asylum in Nevada as they take advantage of slack enforcement of American laws and yawning chasms in immigration and economic controls. Most have hidden their assets and real estate by building trusts and limited liability companies in family members’ names.
United States officials routinely ignore vetting visa applicants. One of the more prominent instances revolves around a recent Panamanian president who was permitted to enter America just hours after his nation’s Supreme Court initiated an inquiry into charges he had pilfered $50 million from his government’s school meal plan.
On the U.S. State Department’s radar since 2009, Ricardo Martinelli displayed the “dark side” of his connections to corruption.
After Martinelli left office in 2014, Panamanian special prosecutors investigated the school lunch program. Tipped off just before the Panama Supreme Court announced a formal probe, Martinelli took a private jet to Guatemala City. Martinelli then entered America on a guest visa and within weeks was living luxuriously as he split his time between an extravagant condominium on Miami’s Brickell Avenue and a Las Vegas condo built by The Stark Team.
The American State Department refused to comment on Martinelli’s case claiming visa documents are private.
Fengxian Hu was a Chinese fugitive. A former radio broadcaster, Hu led the Chinese state-owned broadcasting company that had a joint deal with Pepsi to distribute the soft drinks in Sichuan province. In 2002, Pepsi accused Hu of looking the company and using funds to buy fancy cars when he wasn’t going on top-tier European vacations.
Despite this, America gave Hu a visa that permitted him to fly regularly to Las Vegas here he enjoyed VIP status at the MGM Casino.
Hu applied for a green card through his wife, an American citizen from New York, but American immigration authorities denied Hu’s request. Undeterred, Hu applied for asylum.
During all of this, Hu also got into difficulties in America. He dropped millions in a Las Vegas casino and refused to cover a $12 million gambling debt. Taken to court in 2012, Hu pleaded not guilty to aggravated felony which gets immigrants deported. However, Hu’s pending asylum case was pending so Hu wasn’t going anywhere.
In 2015, a U.S. Government Accountability Office report on the investigation into Hu said it was “difficult” for immigration authorities to find the true source of Hu’s funds since he had a distinct reason to lie about his financial history on his application.
“It’s very easy to become lost in the noise if you’re a bad guy,” said Seto Bagdoyan, the co-author of the GAO report.