Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Obama's DHS nominee under investigation by the DHS IG

President Obama's nominee for the post of Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security is under investigation for his role in helping to secure U.S. visas for foreign investors in a company run by a brother of former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, according to an email sent to lawmakers on Monday by the department's inspector general, NBC News reported.
The email indicates that the FBI's Washington field office, which was conducting a background investigation of Mayorkas on behalf of the White House, was informed of the probe by the inspector general in June. The White House announced the president's intent to nominate Mayorkas on June 27. [An aide to Sen. Charles] Grassley said GOP senators want to know why the White House moved forward with the nomination when a probe into his conduct was under way.

The investigation into Alejandro Mayorkas – who currently serves as director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (UCIS), an agency within Homeland Security - was opened in September 2012 based on a referral from an FBI counterintelligence analyst...

The probe is based on allegations that Mayorkas assisted with obtaining U.S. visas – which had been denied by his own agency's officials – sought on behalf of Chinese businessmen by Gulf Coast Funds Management, a financing company headed by Clinton’s brother Anthony Rodham.

Gulf Coast has received media attention in recent months over its partnership with Greentech, a controversial alternative energy company run by Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic nominee for governor of Virginia.

The email from the Homeland Security inspector general's office states it initially included allegations that USCIS lawyers sought to obstruct an audit of the agency's EB-5 visa program... The E-5 program... provides visas to foreigners who invest $500,000 in job-creating development projects by U.S. companies that are approved by UCIS for designated "regional centers."

As the probe continued, "preliminary investigative findings" refocused the investigation in part on whether Mayorkas had "allegedly assisted with the approval" of an application for E-5 visas submitted by Gulf Coast Funds Management after the application for the visas had been denied by his agency's officials in California and the denial had been upheld by an appeals office.

During the course of the probe, the email states, the inspector general learned of other allegations "involving alleged conflicts of interest, misuse of position, mismanagement of the EB-5 program, and an appearance of impropriety by Mayorkas and other" officials within the UCSIS.

[Sen. Charles] Grassley... had asked the inspector general for a report on the probe after getting tipped off by [a] whistleblower...

At least one of the visas sought by Rodham's firm was for a vice president of Huawei Technologies, a Chinese telecommunications firm that has been investigated by the House Intelligence Committee over claims that it is closely tied to the Chinese intelligence services.
The AP notes that:
Chinese investment in infrastructure projects has long been a concern of the U.S. government... In October, the House Intelligence Committee warned that two leading Chinese technology firms, Huawei Technologies Ltd. and ZTE Corp., posed a major security threat to the U.S.
In July of 2012, the Washington Post reported that ZTE had allegedly sold banned U.S. surveillance equipment to Iran, essentially bypassing current U.S. trade restrictions and embargoes imposed on Iran. I noted at the time that ZTE USA profited substantially, in 2010, from the Obama, tax payer-funded, stimulus program.


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