After a lawsuit and months of delay, state officials released new records Wednesday related to Vermont’s oversight of the federal EB-5 foreign investment program, which was allegedly abused by Jay Peak CEO Bill Stenger and owner Ariel Quiros to defraud foreign investors of hundreds of millions of dollars.
The newly released documents date back to summer 2016, when state and federal officials – along with the general public – were still trying to figure out what went wrong.
The Vermont Department of Financial Regulation released two of those documents Wednesday: One is from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which administers the EB-5 foreign investment program. Officials at USCIS were asking state officials to explain how theVermont Regional Center, a state office responsible for oversight of EB-5 projects in the state, is overseeing projects. The second document is the state’s responses to USCIS questions.
The EB-5 program offers permanent U.S. residency to foreign investors in exchange for a job-creating, $500,000 investment in a qualified project. Before USCIS provides investors residency papers, the agency first has to verify that the investment was used to create jobs as described. Fraud allegations in the Northeast Kingdom raised doubts about where investor money went, and whether the investments did indeed create jobs, and USCIS asked the state to address those concerns.
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