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Company tied to McAuliffe probed by SEC

| Saturday, Aug. 3, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe, second right, leaves the Omni Homestead Resort in Hot Springs, Va. Friday, July 19, 2013, with members of his family, from left, daughter Sally, 13, wife Dorothy, and daughter Dori, 22, right. Terry McAuliffe will debate Republican Ken Cuccinelli at a meeting of the Virginia Bar Association on Saturday, July 20 at the resort. (AP Photo/Richmond Times-Dispatch, Bob Brown)

An electric-car company co-founded by Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, is under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission over its conduct in soliciting foreign investors, according to law-enforcement documents and company officials.

The SEC subpoenaed documents in May from GreenTech Automotive and bank records from a sister company, Gulf Coast Funds Management of McLean, Va. The investigation is focused, at least in part, on alleged claims that the company “guarantees returns” to the investors, according to government documents.

GreenTech has sought overseas investors through a federal program that allows foreigners to gain special visas if they contribute at least $500,000 to add U.S. jobs. Gulf Coast, which is run by Anthony Rodham, the brother of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, seeks investors for GreenTech and arranges the visas.

In recent months, the SEC has stepped up its scrutiny of companies that use the visa program, largely over concerns that investors may have been misled or defrauded by the companies seeking their money. The visa program has also raised national security concerns from some lawmakers, who are worried that suspects are using it to gain entry into the country.

The full focus of the SEC investigation into GreenTech and Gulf Coast is not known, and officials from the SEC declined to comment.

A spokesman for McAuliffe's campaign said that the candidate “has no knowledge of any investigation,” which appears to have started in early 2013, according to Homeland Security Department documents. McAuliffe resigned as chairman of GreenTech in late 2012 as he began his run for governor — although he did not publicly reveal that he had done so for several months.

Some of the details about the SEC's concerns are contained in nearly 100 pages of internal DHS documents and emails obtained by Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, a critic of the visa program.

Representatives of GreenTech and Gulf Coast, which share office space in Tysons Corner, confirmed on Thursday that they had received subpoenas .

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