Company that planned LA development to settle bribery case

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A company that planned a massive redevelopment project in downtown Los Angeles will pay more than $1 million after acknowledging that it was involved in bribing city officials, authorities said Wednesday.

Jia Yuan USA Co., based in Arcadia, reached the agreement to resolve its part in a federal investigation. The company won’t be prosecuted and will cooperate with the ongoing FBI public corruption probe, the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles announced.

The company is a subsidiary of a Chinese real estate firm, Shenzhen Hazens, and was created to redevelop the Los Angeles Luxe City Center Hotel into a $700 million retail, residential and hotel space, authorities said.

George Chiang, a former consultant to the company, pleaded guilty to federal charges this year. He acknowledged helping funnel cash and services worth tens of thousands of dollars to former Los Angeles Councilman Jose Huizar and others in exchange for support for the project.

Huizar has pleaded not guilty to 34 federal charges, including racketeering and bribery. His trial is set for next year.

In its agreement, Jia Yuan USA acknowledged that its parent company helped pay for a trip to China for Huizar and his family and that an employee provided Huizar with $1,000 worth of Katy Perry concert tickets.

The company also acknowledged that some employees made campaign contributions to several U.S. political candidates and were illegally reimbursed by the company, and that the company hosted fundraising events for them at the hotel. The acts were at the direction of a foreign national who can’t legally be involved in U.S. elections, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

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