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Did Ratner Enlist Ex-Nets in Money-for-Visas Program?

Darryl Dawkins and Otis Birdsong were in China last week not just to watch the Nets play the Rockets but to attend an investment "roadshow" where Bruce Ratner sought to raise nearly a quarter billion dollars through a controversial money-for-visas program, an Abu Dhabi newspaper reports.

According to a reporter who was at one of the "roadshows" in Beijing, the two were on hand to mix with about 200 prospects Ratner and advisors had invited to invest in the Atlantic Yards project. Under the EB-5 visa program, those who invest $500,000 or more can receive US green cards in return.

Although the "roadshow" made heavy use of the Nets' China games in promotions, documentation suggests the money would NOT be used to finance Barclays Center (which is already fully funded) but to build a nearby railyard and to retire some of Ratner's debt. The reporter suggested many of those on hand were more attracted to the prospect of political freedom U.S. residency would afford.