GB&W represents 22 plaintiffs who are suing The Bank of Hope in an effort to recover money looted from their escrow accounts. The group of Korean and Chinese nationals claim bank administrators had a cozy relationship with an attorney-turned-money manager and turned a blind eye when he swindled investors out of tens of millions of dollars.
Justin Lee, a former Los Angeles immigration attorney now behind bars in Korea, targeted Korean nationals who wanted residency status in the U.S. by fraudulently offering them entry through the EB-5 immigration visa program. Lee’s scheme to defraud began in early 2006 and continued until July 2013. Through advertisements in foreign newspapers and other means, Lee solicited Korean and Chinese nationals who were interested in EB-5 visas to invest $500,000 dollars plus $40,000 for his administrative and legal fees. He claimed the investor funds would be used to construct bio-refineries to produce ethanol. Lee promised to return the investment funds and provide them with EB-5 visas which would lead to permanent U.S. residency. However, Lee never developed the Regional Centers, he never built bio-refineries and used the investor funds for his own personal use. He stole money from 94 foreign nationals who lost about $47 million, including the money deposited in Bank of Hope in accordance with an escrow agreement, and they were not enrolled in the EB-5 program. Bank of Hope’s involvement with Lee did not come to light until the criminal trial revealed his deep relationship with the bank.