Nicholas Mastroianni, the founder of the U.S. Immigration Fund regional center for EB-5 investment, was brought to the Squire Patton Boggs law firm as lobbying client by Michael Cohen, President Trump’s longtime personal attorney.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Mastroianni paid Squire Patton Boggs $370,000 to lobby Congress and the Trump administration on EB-5 matters.
Mastroianni confirmed he is one one of five clients that U.S. prosecutors for the Southern District of New York said were steered to Squire Patton Boggs by Cohen during a short-lived “strategic alliance” with the firm. Mastroianni told the Journal that he met with Cohen sometime last year at his Rockefeller Center office and was later put in touch with lobbyist Edward Newberry. Cohen is being investigated for potential fraud and other matters related to his $130,000 payment of hush money to adult film star Stormy Daniel, who alleges she had an affair with the president.
Cohen, who received $500,000 a year to bring clients to Squire Patton Boggs, has not been indicted on any charges by prosecutors. On Tuesday, it was revealed that Cohen’s firm Essential Consultants received a $500,000 payment last year to a fund linked to a Russian oligarch with ties to the Kremlin.
In a February 2017 interview with The Real Deal after Trump took office, Mastroianni said that his company had thus far received little indication on policy positions related to EB-5 from the White House. Squire Patton Boggs filed its first lobbying report for work it completed for U.S. Immigration Fund in June of that year.
The revelation that Mastroianni is a Squire Patton Boggs client is also notable given his connection to Kushner Companies and the investigations open against the real estate company for its use of the EB-5 program. U.S. Immigration Fund was working to bring Chinese investors to Kushner’s One Journal Square project in Jersey City, but Mastroianni called it off after a presentation by Jared Kushner’s sister in Beijing referenced the family’s ties to the White House. The presentation caused international controversy and ultimately led to a still-pending investigating by the U.S. Attorney’s office in Brooklyn.
In January, TRD reported that Mastroianni’s firm and Kushner Companies had long abandoned their plans to raise EB-5 financing from China for 1 Journal Square. The company has raised EB-5 funds for HFZ Capital Group, Steve Witkoff, Durst Organization, Forest City Ratner and others.