Palm Beach developer Robert Matthews and real estate attorney Leslie R. Evans have been charged with fraud for their involvement in a real estate scam that swindled $50 million from about 50 Chinese and Iranian investors in recent years.
The scam redirected EB-5 funds intended for a Palm Beach condo-hotel project at 160 Royal Palm Way, according to the Palm Beach Daily News. Each investor provided $500,000, the minimum amount required to be eligible for a visa through the EB-5 investor program.
But instead of remaining in the developers’ escrow account, the $50 million investment was allegedly “improperly transferred” to other accounts, the Palm Beach Daily News reported, citing a lawsuit. The suit alleges the EB-5 funds were used to buy homes, luxury cars, a yacht and to pay off personal debt.
The indictment charges Matthews with eight counts of wire fraud, one count of bank fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud, and 10 counts of illegal monetary transactions. Evans was charged with eight counts of wire fraud, one count of bank fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud, and one count of illegal monetary transactions.
The development, meanwhile, is still unfinished. Cary Glickstein, who is also the mayor of Delray Beach, was appointed by a judge to oversee the completion of the Palm House project. At the council meeting, Glickstein said he’s also considering selling the property to a developer. [Palm Beach Daily News] – Amanda Rabines