Ex-wife of for­mer Chi­nese of­fi­cial pleads guilty to fraud

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By LIA ZHU in San Fran­cisco

Zhao Shi­lan, the ex-wife of a for­mer Chi­nese of­fi­cial, has pleaded guilty to con­spir­ing to com­mit im­mi­gra­tion fraud re­lated to EB-5 in­vestor visas.

Zhao, 53, pleaded guilty on Jan 9 to one count of con­spir­ing with her ex-hus­band, Qiao Jian­jun, to fraud­u­lently ob­tain visas to en­ter the United States. She was ar­rested in March 2015 in New­cas­tle, Wash­ing­ton.

Qiao, 53, also known as Feng Li, is ac­cused of em­bez­zling funds while serv­ing as di­rec­tor of a grain com­pany in China’s He­nan prov­ince. He re­mains a fugi­tive who is be­ing sought by fed­eral au­thor­i­ties, ac­cord­ing to the US at­tor­ney of­fice in Los An­ge­les.

Qiao also is on a pri­or­ity list of 150 peo­ple that Chi­nese pros­e­cu­tors gave to the US State Depart­ment. China wanted help in find­ing and repa­tri­at­ing money they al­legedly em­bez­zled, as well as the sus­pects.

As part of a plea agree­ment with pros­e­cu­tors, Zhao agreed to co­op­er­ate with the govern­ment’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion. A sen­tenc­ing hear­ing is sched­uled for Nov 6. Zhao will face a statu­tory max­i­mum penalty of five years in prison.

Ac­cord­ing to the plea agree­ment signed by Zhao on Dec 21, Zhao sub­mit­ted false sup­port­ing ma­te­ri­als to US fed­eral au­thor­i­ties in May 2008, in­clud­ing a false mar­riage cer­tifi­cate and false pa­pers doc­u­ment­ing the source of her in­vest­ment, which was re­quired un­der the EB-5 im­mi­grant in­vestor pro­gram to ob­tain US im­mi­grant visas.

Qiao pre­pared or ob­tained the doc­u­ments and Zhao knew at least some of the doc­u­ments were false, ac­cord­ing to the plea agree­ment.

Ac­cord­ing to the in­dict­ment, Zhao and Qiao were di­vorced but pre­tended to re­main mar­ried and lied about the source

Zhao Shi­lan in a 2015 file photo.

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