|Meet the London Car Dealer Who Broke the Jay Peak EB-5 Fraud Case
Vermont Public Radio
Sept. 7, 2016
|State Officials Investigated Jay Peak Investors’ EB-5 Concerns, But Didn’t Inform Them
Vermont Public Radio
Sept. 8, 2016
The plan was grand: Half a billion dollars of private money invested in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, the state’s most rural — and most economically challenged — region. Four-season destination resorts, year-round manufacturing jobs, an international airport, a veritable “Renaissance” to revive the economy on the shores of Lake Memphremagog, which spans the Canadian border.
Some of those projects did get built: Jay Peak Resort, formerly a sleepy ski area with renowned slopes, now also boasts an indoor water park, golf course, hockey arena, hotels, penthouse suites and condominiums galore. Burke Mountain Resort likewise got its first hotel, and an on-site conference center.
But in Newport, Vt., the Canadian border town, an empty hole the size of a city block gapes where commercial buildings and apartments were razed to make room for the Renaissance project that isn’t to be. At the state-owned airport, an extended runway awaits international flights that can’t land without U.S. Customs operations in the new terminal that’s not built. Those manufacturing projects? Never begun.
And roughly 700 immigrant investors from 74 countries, who collectively poured about $350 million into the master vision, are yet unpaid. Some have received the green cards offered in exchange for their investments, through the federal EB-5 Immigrant Investor program. Others’ immigration status hovers in limbo, while federal and state lawsuits play out against Jay Peak owner Ariel Quiros and longtime resort president Bill Stenger.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and Vermont’s financial regulators allege the two men perpetrated a “massive” securities fraud in which they illegally pooled and misappropriated investor money for years. Quiros, they charge, also leveraged the funds through unauthorized loans, which he then used to help amass his own personal fortune.
Also implicated in the saga: state officials, from governors to department heads to employees charged with overseeing the state’s EB-5 program since 1997.
Did Quiros really do it? Did Stenger know and help? Should or could the state have prevented the alleged fraud, or stopped it sooner? If this happened at Jay Peak — and in Vermont, where the state government itself oversees EB-5 developments — what’s occurring in places with less accountability?
My ongoing investigation, in partnership with Vermont Public Radio, tells the unfolding tale of Jay Peak, of the hundreds of immigrant investors who trusted its leaders with their money, and of the state officials who kept giving their developments green lights — until announcing in April 2016 sweeping fraud charges against them.
- State Officials Investigated Jay Peak Investors’ EB-5 Concerns, But Didn’t Inform Them (Sept. 8, 2016)
- Meet the London Car Dealer Who Broke the Jay Peak EB-5 Fraud Case (Sept. 7, 2016)
- Shumlin Administration Received Indication of Alleged EB-5 Fraud in November 2014 (July 14, 2016)
- Foreign Investors Left in Immigration Limbo as Officials Investigate EB-5 Fraud (May 27, 2016)
My EB-5 coverage has also aired on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered:
- Authorities Dig Into the Dealings of the Men Behind Jay Peak Resort (April 23, 2016)
in The Boston Globe:
- Red Flags Preceded Fraud Allegations at Jay Peak Resort (April 21, 2016)
and prior to the charges, on the Vermont-based nonprofit news website VTDigger.org as a staff reporter:
- Jay Peak Loses Trust of First EB-5 Investors (July 27, 2014)
- Q Empire: The Man Behind the Northeast Kingdom’s Biggest Plan (Jan. 14, 2014)
- Community Fears History Will Repeat Itself at Q Burke Mountain (Jan. 14, 2014)
- A Post-mortem of Menck Windows’ Northeast Kingdom EB-5 Project (Sept. 24, 2013)
- Leahy Proposal Would Alter EB-5 Job Creation Formula (Aug. 9, 2013)
- Capitol Hill Controversy Puts EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program in National Spotlight (July 26, 2013)
I have also been featured on live radio to discuss the ongoing situation and my reporting on it.