U.S. Authorities will examine allegations of city officials’ criminal activity in Los Angeles’ real estate developments.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is trying to find proof of bribery, extortion, money laundering, deprivation of honest services, and other crimes involving City Hall and lucrative China-funded property projects.
The persons of interest include Los Angeles City Council former deputy mayor for economic development Raymond Chan, Councilman Curren Price, Councilman Jose Huizar, Public Works Commissioner Joel Jacinto, former Huizar aide George Esparza, Councilman Herb Wesson’s chief of staff, Deron Williams, and Huizar’s planning director, Shawn Kuk among others.
Though Mayor Eric Garcetti was excluded, but the event will largely impact his 2020 presidential bid.
Among those named are executives of Chinese firms, Greenland, Shenzhen Hazens, Oceanwide and Shenzhen New World Group who are financing major downtown projects, including three new towers on Figueroa Street.
The FBI is also searching for information about L.A. developments involving other foreign investors, particularly firms with large-scale hotel and residential projects in the downtown area.
The investigation went public, after FBI agents raided Huizar’s home and office in Nov. 2018.
There is nothing in the warrant to suggest the FBI had already found any evidence of criminal activity involving any of the persons of interest listed in the document. There have also been no arrests or charges in this investigation.
Property developers behind projects in the downtown-to-Eagle Rock district have separately been issued federal grand jury subpoenas, asking them to surrender communications with Huizar and several of his staffers since 2013, according to media reports.
Information of interest includes Huizar’s re-election bid, officeholder committee, legal defence fund and alma mater, Bishop Mora Salesian High School. The subpoenas also seek details of any donations made to two political committees linked to Huizar, Community Support PAC and Families for a Better Los Angeles.
Developers must also provide information on gifts, meals, trips, vacations, flights, event tickets or golf games they provided to Huizar, his staff or any other council member. This includes trips to Las Vegas and stays at four hotels, including the Palazzo and Caesars Palace.