A mysterious company that bought more than 50,000 acres of land around an Air Force base in California for $800million is now suing farmers for conspiring to sell it at inflated prices.
Public records show ‘Flannery Associates’ has invested more than $800million on around 55,000 acres of land surrounding the Travis Air Force base since 2018.
Flannery is now suing local farming families for $510million, accusing them of ‘acting in flagrant disregard of federal and state law’ by conspiring to inflate the value of the land it sold them.
Travis Air Force base, northeast of San Francisco, is a strategically significant base that serves as a ‘gateway’ to the Pacific Ocean. It houses large transport aircraft used for refueling smaller planes and sending aid and munitions around the world.
But Rep. John Garamendi, D-Calif. now claims that lawsuit is in fact part of a scheme to bankrupt the farmers and has a ‘deep suspicion’ the chunks of land are being bought by a group linked to China.
In its initial complaint Flannery claims it has ‘smoking gun’ evidence, including text messages and emails between sellers that reveal they were illegally colluding to sell the farmland for a ‘substantial premium to fair market values’.
Garamendi told NewsNation he has spoken with the families who sold their land to Flannery who claim they didn’t want to sell in the first place.
He also said that there was nothing obligating Flannery to pay what it now claims is more than market value for the land.
While he said that although there was no direct evidence Flannery is linked to China there were ‘deep suspicions’.
An attorney representing Flannery has said the group is controlled by US citizens and that 97 percent of its capital comes from American investors – with the remaining investments coming from British and Irish citizens.
Nonetheless, after eight months of investigation the Air Force’s ‘Foreign Investment Risk Review Office’ is yet to identify even one person that is part of the group.
‘The fact they chose to buy all three sides of the Travis Air Force Base even raises immediate questions about national security,’ Garamendi told NewsNation.
‘So, is this Chinese money? We don’t know, but we do know that the Chinese money was being used in North Dakota and we have a very deep suspicion, given the amount of money, given the lack of attention to values, that they simply want to acquire all of this land,’ he added.