The federal EB-5 program has become notorious in Vermont because of the alleged fraud carried out by two ski area developers accused by federal authorities of bilking investors out of tens of millions of dollars.
But EB-5 lives on, as was evident in a New York Times story describing the use of the program by the owner of a major league soccer team to pay for the construction of a new stadium in Orlando, Fla. Investors will get season tickets and other benefits, plus the bonus that makes the EB-5 program possible, a green card.
Taxpayers in many places have become less willing to fork over great sums to pay for stadiums used to enrich millionaire business people. And well they should. But sports is still big business, and building luxury stadiums for high-flying fans can be a profitable investment. The EB-5 program, it turns out, is a way to make it happen.
The owner of the Orlando City team is Flavio Augusto da Silva, a Brazilian who obtained his visa by investing in the Jay Peak projects now the center of a fraud case brought by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Da Silva is trying to entice soccer-loving Brazilians to invest in his stadium. For an investment of at least $500,000, they could gain their own visas, as da Silva did.
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