A Chinese real estate company at the center of an FBI bribery probe involving a Los Angeles city councilman raked in somewhere between $4 million to $10 million in coronavirus relief loans provided under the federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), the Daily Caller reported Thursday.
Shenzhen New World Group, owned by Chinese billionaire Wei Huang, received the lump sum over two separate loans for hotels operating in Los Angeles. The group’s chairman is also however, accused by federal prosecutors of bribing Los Angeles City Council member Jose Huizar with $260,000 in poker chips and $600,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit.
In June, Huizar was arrested for allegedly accepting an estimated $1.5 million in bribes to assist developers on downtown projects which includes at least 19 trips to Las Vegas between March 2012 and 2017. Prosecutors accuse a developer of footing the bill for “flights on private jets and commercial airlines; stays at luxury hotels; expensive meals; spa services; event tickets to concerts, shows, and sporting events; escort and prostitution services; and other gifts.”
The Daily Caller reported that while prosecutors’ indictment omits the Chinese developer’s name from the charges, the company’s building project matches the Shenzhen New World Group’s 2018 proposal for a 77-story skyscraper that if built, would become the highest building west of the Mississippi River. The Los Angeles Times has also matched the description.
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While the real estate company was allegedly covering the costs of Huizar’s high-dollar trips, the development group submitted its application for its skyscraper project in question on June 7, 2018.
The U.S. Treasury began releasing a database identifying recipients of the taxpayer-forgivable PPP loans Monday. A total of $522 billion in funds were granted to nearly 5 million small businesses, according to the Treasury Department.
The Florida Democratic Party was also reported to have received a loan this week once the database was made public. The party announced it would be returning a $780,000 loan following bipartisan criticism.