By Paul Gable
Horry County Council will again consider first reading of a request to rezone Indian Wells Golf Club for development at its regular meeting next week.
Council has already denied the request once and deferred a changed plan at its last regular council meeting.
Council member Tyler Servant, in whose council District 5 the course is located, has reportedly been working with three homeowner’s associations who will be impacted by the rezoning to get agreement from them for a development plan that has no commercial structures and only townhomes and single family homes.
But, Servant may be missing the forest while concentrating on just one tree. There are more issues at Indian Wells than which development plan can get approval from council.
Indian Wells is one of the golf courses owned by the Founders Group International, a collective of multiple LLC’s with 90% ownership by Chinese companies for which Dan Liu claims to act as exclusive U.S. agent and 10% ownership by Nick Dou, according to documents provided in a lawsuit with Dou as plaintiff and Liu as defendant. According to Liu’s deposition, he met Dou in 2012.
Dou and Liu are currently locked in a legal battle over allegations by Dou that Liu is attempting to strip assets from their corporate interests.
In the 2014-15 timeframe, Founders Group International acquired 22 golf courses, homes and other properties in the Grand Strand area for the total sum of approximately $135 million.
In a deposition for the ongoing lawsuit, Liu claimed the money used for the purchases was taken from his personal funds. However, the deposition included a description from Liu of his work history from the time he left university in 1997. Nothing in that history gave any indication from where Liu would have accumulated such an amount of money.
According to Liu’s statements in the deposition, he placed his personal funds in the above mentioned Chinese companies, with which he claims no association other than being the exclusive U.S. agent, in order to move the funds out of China.
The money was then used to make cash purchases of the various golf courses and other properties along the Grand Strand.
Liu’s statements in his sworn deposition for the U.S. lawsuit are contradicted by legal documents associated with a criminal case in Jiangsu Province in China. According to a March 23, 2017 statement by the Jiangsu Province General District Attorney Office, the Nanjing DA Office approved the arrest of Dan Liu and 12 associates in what is called “illegal fundraising case” designated as a “Series of Yiqian Events.”
According to evidence and testimony at the criminal trial of Liu’s associates, Liu, Xiuli Xue and Xiang Fei established a peer to peer financing business called Yiqian Funding in 2010. The business split into two divisions, Nanjing Yiqian and Jiangsu Yiqian, in 2013. Xue was in charge of Nanjing Yiqian, which was the fundraising half of Yiqian Funding. Liu was the managing partner of the entire operation and also managed Jiangsu Yiqian, which invested the funds raised by Xue’s division.
According to evidence and testimony in the criminal trials in China of Liu’s associates, Liu transferred a large amount of funds from Jiangsu Yiqian overseas in 2014-15.
According to Liu’s deposition in the civil lawsuit versus Dou, he never had any ties with Yiqian Funding.
According to Liu’s testimony in his deposition, he and Dou agreed in 2014 to form a corporation to purchase golf courses and other property in the Myrtle Beach area. The agreement was Liu would provide most of the funds for purchase and Dou would manage the day to day operations of the business. Most of the Grand Strand purchases took place in 2014-15.
Chinese police raided the Yiqian Funding offices in China in 2016 and Liu’s main partner, Xiuli Xie, was arrested in Hong Kong in December 2016 attempting to flee the country. Liu set up residence in the Grande Dunes after he was married in 2015.
According to records of the Jiangsu Provincial Procuratorate in China, the 12 Yiqian Funding associates arrested in China were convicted of the alleged crimes and are currently in jail. Liu remains the lone fugitive in the case.
Liu remains in the U.S. on an immigrant work visa that expired in August 2018, according to records of the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol and the U.S. Immigration Customs Enforcement agencies.
Xiuli Xie was convicted after trial on May 3, 2018. It is a translated copy of her trial transcript that was used as source material for portions of this story.
According to the trial record, Yiqian Funding raised a total of 18,567,856,400 Chinese Yuan from nearly 100,000 Chinese investors during its existence. Of that amount, 9,271,568,000 could not be accounted for when authorities raided the Yiqian offices.
Prosecutor’s records show Liu and Xue repaid 1,822,916,100 of the missing amount in 2016. The remainder, the equivalent of $1,111,739,089 US Dollars, is still unaccounted for.
Horry County records show Liu personally holds a mortgage on Indian Wells Golf Course in the amount of $4,769,496.00.
Court documents in the Dou v Liu lawsuit include a consent order agreed to by both parties and signed by the judge that sets a top price of $1 million on any sale of Founders Group International property without the agreement of both parties and the judge.
Servant reportedly told constituents opposing the rezoning of the golf course that it was county council’s responsibility to act on a rezoning request that has been forwarded to council from the Planning Commission.
This is true. However, it is not council’s responsibility to approve the rezoning request without taking into consideration all aspects of the case, not just whether or not there should be commercial property included in the new zoning plan.
Should council give consideration to a request from a company 90% owned by a Chinese national who remains in the U.S. on an expired visa while remaining a fugitive from Chinese authorities with an outstanding arrest warrant for serious financial crimes in order for him to profit further from his ill gotten funds?