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FBI Corruption Probe Looks Into Downtown LA Political Players And Real Estate Developers

As part of its continuing probe into Jose Huizar, a city councilman who oversees downtown Los Angeles, the FBI is seeking additional evidence into alleged corruption involving Mayor Eric Garcetti’s former deputy mayor for economic development, Raymond Chan. 

Downtown Los Angeles

A federal search warrant issued in November but reviewed by the Los Angeles Times this past weekend revealed the FBI asked the court to look into the Google email account of Chan, who was once head of the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety under Garcetti.

Chan, who was not available for comment, retired last year.

The warrant requests information pertaining to potential crimes, including bribery, kickbacks, extortion and money laundering involving several members of LA’s political scene, including Councilman Curren Price; Councilman Herb Wesson’s chief of staff, Deron Williams; Public Works Commissioner Joel Jacinto; Huizar’s planning director, Shawn Kuk; and former Huizar aide George Esparza, among others, according to the federal search warrant.

The document also names executives from the Shenzhen New World Group, the owner of the LA Grand Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Additionally, the FBI is seeking “all records relating to development projects in and around Los Angeles that relate to foreign investors to include, but not limited to, Hazens (a subsidiary of Shenzhen New World Group), Greenland, Oceanwide and other foreign investors not yet identified.”

Greenland and Oceanwide are China-based developers. Greenland is developing the Metropolis, a 3.5M SF multibillion-dollar, four-tower condominium, hotel and retail development in downtown Los Angeles. Oceanwide is developing the $1B Oceanwide Plaza, a 1.5M SF mixed-use project across the street from Staples Center.

No one has been charged with a crime or arrested.

The FBI probe is part of a much larger investigation into Huizar, who formerly served as the chairman of the city’s Planning and Land Use Management Committee.

The committee is responsible for vetting commercial real estate developments including multifamily apartments, hotels and shopping centers. 

Last November, the FBI raided Huizar’s home and offices. It is still unclear why the FBI is investigating Huizar. The search warrant is under a court seal, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The Times also learned that real estate developers with projects in Huizar’s district, which spans from downtown Los Angeles to Eagle Rock, have received federal grand jury subpoenas to turn over information and communications with the councilman and members and former members of his office since 2013.

A week after the raid, Huizar was stripped of his committee responsibilities.