CHICAGO-A developer’s plan to build a convention center adjacent to O’Hare International Airport has been at least temporarily sidetracked by a federal judge in connection with a Securities and Exchange Commission lawsuit.

The SEC has accused the aspiring Convention Center developer Anshoo Sethi in a lawsuit filed on Feb. 6 in Chicago of using false documents to pump up his project and cheat mostly Chinese investors out of millions of dollars. The lawsuit seeks to force Sethi to return $145 million he collected from about 250 investors, most of them Chinese. The SEC also accuses Sethi of wrongfully transfering $2.5 million from investors into a personal bank account in Hong Kong, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Sethi planned to build the convention center at the former Chicago O’Hare Garden Hotel at 8201 W. Higgins Road. The run-down hotel, which was owned by Sethi’s family, was demolished last November.

As part of the SEC lawsuit that was unsealed last week, a federal judge has ordered that Sethi’s project be temporarily stopped. The judge also ordered that Sethi’s assets be seized and that investors’ money that left the United States be returned to this country. Sethi did not return phone calls from the newspaper. See story in the Chicago Tribune.