- Published: Thursday, 24 January 2013 10:50
At the request of many of our South American and European clients, Lorenzo M. Lleras, P.A. is pleased to unveil our "Investor Opportunities" Section. Over the years, we've seen many clients succeed in their new U.S. ventures; we've also seen many fail. The fact is that doing business in the U.S. tends to be an extremely different matter than doing business abroad; many seasoned entrepreneurs lose their shirts - or more - in their first investment efforts in the U.S. They find out the hard way that success in their home country does not necessarily lead to success in a U.S. business.
After 8 years of advising foreign investors in the U.S., it's safe to say that Jose has basically seen it all: con men, incompetent lawyers and accountants, insane schemes...you name it, it's passed through our door, either in Florida or in Hong Kong. Jose once sent 5 registered letters to a client advising him that the individual he had hired appeared to be siphoning cash out of the business. Nonsense, said the client: the man is from my country, and he couldn't do this to me. Result: theft of $300,000 in investment funds and a one-way ticket back home, courtesy of his countryman's "assistance". With friends like that...
Our problem is that we have always thought of ourselves as immigration lawyers. We NEVER give tax or accounting advice and we stay clear of things we don't consider to be within our expertise. Invariably, as we develop friendships with clients, we become a trusted confidant, similar to the relationship the client may have had with his or her family attorney back home. Consider the fact that 3 out of 5 of our Florida clients advise that they have been defrauded by "notarios" or even attorneys prior to finding their way to our office, and it's easy to see why they want us to play a larger advisory role as they build and grow their new U.S. enterprises.
As a result of this, over these 8 years, we've become GENERAL CORPORATE ATTORNEYS in an effort to help our clients. That means we:
- draft and review contracts, leases, and agreements
- apply and arrange for business licenses, permits, etc.
It also means we introduce our clients to appropriate, legitimate professionals in the areas OUTSIDE of our expertise. Over the years, this role has rapidly expanded...
Business Advisory Services
Whether it's helping a client set up a computer export business in Miami or setting up a multimillion dollar investment for Japanese clients in Hong Kong, Latour and Lleras, P.A. possesses TRUE, PROVEN international expertise in business startups and international negotiations. We firmly believe our negotiation and deal-closing skills are as good as or better than those of the leading international law firms. However, one caveat:
WE DO NOT LITIGATE
If our negotiations on your behalf break down or your contract is breached and we cannot negotiate a settlement, we will work to find you the best, most aggressive, and cost-effective litigators in the respective jurisdiction. What does this mean for our clients:
we have absolutely no built-in incentive to create or protract litigation. Our role is to get the deal done, satisfy all parties, and move on to the next deal.
This unconventional approach-- we know of no other international business practice which flatly rejects litigation business-- is a result of Jose's experience as a U.S. Diplomatic Officer and his unwavering commitment to fair but aggressive negotiating techniques. Jose has been involved in negotiations world-wide; with deals closing in countries ranging from Africa to the Philippines and throughout Latin America. Our "good cop" approach in arm's length dealings on behalf of reputable clients generally eliminates the need for the "bad cop"...but when litigation is the only route, we will introduce you to our friends: top-echelon litigators noted for results.
The Role of Lorenzo M. Lleras, P.A. in Helping Your New Business Succeed
Whether you are an E-1 or E-2 investor interested in setting up a small U.S. enterprise or an EB-5 million-dollar investor planning on immigrating to the U.S., we have the experience and expertise to minimize the risks you will face in your new venture. Some of the "disasters" we've defused (or at least predicted!) in the past:
A Colombian client was about to purchase a small restaurant in Miami. After we did our due diligence, we found out that the beautiful new kitchen equipment which represented the bulk of the value of the transaction WAS LEASED! It didn't belong to the owner who had created false purchase receipts to pass them off as paid equipment for the buyer.
An affluent investor arranged a complex services deal in Hong Kong and we were called in to audit the legal structure created by the other side's advisors. In our research, we found a number of conflicting issues and explanations. Our client was $40,000 U.S. in the hole when we advised him to break off the deal and cut his losses. He said we were overreacting and would continue. Three months and $260,000 MORE dollars later, he cancelled the deal. (Morale: heed the advice you are paying for!)
There are dozens more examples we could cite. The point is simple: if you are a new investor in the U.S, your need several people on your team:
- A GREAT immigration lawyer.
- A GREAT CPA.
- A GREAT friend, in the form of an accessible corporate lawyer, who can weed through the startup process with your interests in mind.
The only role we can't play is the middle one.
Latour and Lleras, P.A is a leader in the innovative structuring of investment based visas. For example, did you know that an EB-5 Immigrant Investor's capital contribution can come in the form of inventory?
Example: a client in Lebanon is interested in immigrating to the United States. His total savings, after liquidating various properties, is about $250,000, clearly far short of the $1 million he needs for the investment he is contemplating in Orlando. He visits two U.S. law firms in London and is essentially told that there is nothing he can do. He gets referred to us and we prod a little deeper: what exactly does he want to do? What business is he in? Does he have anything else of value...?
It turns out that the gentleman had purchased, the prior year, an $850,000 color press for magazine printing, his business in Lebanon. He wanted to start a printing business in the U.S. and would definitely need to hire at least 10 U.S. workers. Could he ship the press to the U.S., Jose asked? That was the plan, he said. Result: over $1,000,000 in investment, counting the appraised value of his equipment.
Remember: not all business will succeed, but cutting down on stupid mistakes can sure help you improve your odds. Not everything has a clear solution, and while we are definitely among the most creative firms in this business, the letter of the law is clear and we must work within its framework. Our adherence to the letter of the law is constant; we are occasionally chided for our conservatism, but we do not play with our clients' lives. We have seen creative accounting, falsified documents, and just about everything else...our licenses and reputations mean too much to represent this sort of client. However, for legitimate investors wanting to increase their probability of start-up success, we're your firm.