A Chinese real estate developer has been found guilty of spending more than $1 million to bribe a former Los Angeles city councilman to build a skyscraper.
Shen Zhen New World I LLC was found guilty of all counts it was charged with – honest services fraud, interstate and foreign travel in aid of bribery and bribery, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California said.
Wei Huang, Shen Zhen’s owner and Chinese citizen who has a home in San Marino, California, is also charged as part of the case, but authorities believe he is a fugitive and living in China.
Shen Zhen purchased the LA Grand Hotel in 2010 and submitted in 2018 to redevelop the site into a 77-story mixed-use skyscraper.
Prosecutors said that between February 2013 and November 2018, the Chinese company provided board member José Huizar and an assistant with a variety of gifts in exchange for Mr. Huizar’s advocacy and approval of the project.
The gifts included cash, casino chips, lodging at luxury hotels and casinos in Las Vegas, expensive meals, spa and prostitution services, private and commercial flights, political contributions and $600,000 so that Mr. a former staff member who threatened his career, the Justice Department said.
Mr. Huizar was first elected to the city council in 2005, but he stepped down in 2020 amid the federal corruption investigation. The former councilor pleaded not guilty to the bribery charges at the end of 2020.