1996 - 2000
James A. Geisler and James F. O’Connor, and their financial services company Interbank Group told international investors that they could qualify for a green card under the EB-5 program by investing just $100,000 to $150,000 in cash. Between 1997 and 1998, the pair successfully convinced 230 clients to invest.
The EB-5 program requires that foreigners invest at least $500,000 in a project that will create 10 jobs in rural or poor areas. Interbank used a series of financial transactions to make it appear that their clients had invested the full $500,000, yet little money was ever invested in American businesses. Additionally, Interbank opened small offices throughout the U.S., submitted false W-4 forms for employees who did not exist, and created a telephone answering service that made it appear as though they were conducting a large-scale, legitimate business operation. Meanwhile, Geisler and O’Connor used clients’ money to pay themselves and cover Interbank’s expenses.
Virtually all of Interbank’s 230 clients who invested with Geisler and O’Connor lost their money. Forty-Three Interbank clients received temporary visas under the program, but many of which were later revoked following Geisler’s and O’Connor’s arrests. Other visa applications were suspended or denied after the INS raided Interbank in August 1998.