Reuters Investigates

Insight and investigations from our expert reporters

Coming to America, for a price

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Jim Kelleher and Karin Matz teamed up with Reuters reporters in South Korea and China for a special report on what has become a cottage industry profiting from a program that allows foreigners who invest in certain small U.S. businesses to get on the fast track to U.S. residency and citizenship.

Chinese and South Koreans are the biggest customers. But a Reuters investigation indicates there are widespread problems in the way the program is promoted and the immigrants’ chances of winning permanent U.S. residency are more of a coin toss than a slam dunk

The U.S. EB-5 investor visa program, which allows foreign entrepreneurs to become U.S. residents if they invest money in businesses that create or save 10 jobs, is especially popular in Asia, where it is aggressively promoted by recruiters as a safe, surefire way to gain legal entry to the United States – and to make a potential profit in the bargain.

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The number of immigrants applying for the U.S. EB-5 visa program has jumped in recent years. But that may be because the number of U.S. businesses participating in the program – and aggressively recruiting investors overseas – has grown geometrically over the past three years.

China’s rebalancing act puts consumer to the fore

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consumerWal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, now has 189 stories in China, according to its website. Soon it will have many more.  The U.S. chain has announced plans to open a series of “compact hypermarkets”, using a bare-bones model developed in Latin America, the Financial Times said.

Wal-Mart stores are a bit different than the one’s you might find in, say, Little Rock Arkansas. They sell live toads and turtles for one thing, The Economist reported. But they also sell the appliances, gadgets, and housewares that Wal-Mart stores merchandise everywhere.

Inside the Pirates’ Web

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CHINA-PIRACY/Reuters trade correspondent in Washington Doug Palmer had an unusual assignment: buy a fake Louis Vuitton handbag on the Internet, and take it to a LVMH store for a comparison test, before handing it over to U.S. authorities.

    What was startling was how easy it was to find websites selling a dazzling array of stuff online. This is the new face of
piracy and its costing businesses billions.   No need to skulk around back alleys or some pirate’s rental van to browse through footwear, watches, DVDs and whatnot. Just pick out your LV shoulder tote from a virtual catalog on a website based in China. It looks and feels like the real thing at a fraction of the price.

Mongolia’s El Dorado stirs shareholder battle

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friedlandIn Mongolia’s South Gobi desert lies Oyu Tolgoi, touted as having the world’s largest untapped copper and gold deposits. Little wonder then that this “El Dorado” has become a boardroom battleground between the relatively unknown Ivanhoe Mines and its biggest shareholder, the giant Australian mining company, Rio Tinto.  

Our attempts to get near this mine or elicit any comment from Ivanhoe were about as fruitless as the Spanish conquistadors attempts to find the legendary “El Dorado”, or “Lost City of Gold” in the 16th century. Twice Ivanhoe stopped our reporters from visiting the mine with delegations from the investment community, saying reporters were not  allowed to mingle with bankers on visits to the mine. We don’t know why that would be. We mingle with them pretty often in other contexts and usually find each other’s company amusing and mutually informative.

It’s all Brazil, all the time

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BRAZIL-ECONOMY/CHINAAnother day, another Brazil story. No, not Petrobras, though that is worth reading too.

Luciana Lopez has a story about soy and shoes. It might seem like an odd combination but the two are important industries in Brazil which is undergoing an economic transformation as it comes to terms with China’s growing global clout.