VTDigger Exclusive: EB-5 investors question state watchdog's independence | VTDigger
 

VTDigger Exclusive: EB-5 investors question state watchdog’s independence

Jay Peak’s Tram Haus Lodge. Photo by Justin Cash/skivermont.com

Jay Peak’s Tram Haus Lodge. Photo by Justin Cash/skivermont.com

© Copyright, VTDigger 2014

Investors in a Northeast Kingdom development question whether a state official was watching out for their best interests. In complaints to the state, they allege that Brent Raymond, the executive director of the Vermont Regional Center, was not playing enough of a watchdog role in his oversight of the Tram Haus Lodge project at Jay Peak.

Raymond is charged with monitoring a novel investment program being used for development in the Northeast Kingdom.

A series of emails obtained by VTDigger shows that Raymond, who is charged with overseeing EB-5 projects in the state, has a close relationship with Bill Stenger, the CEO and president of Jay Peak.

Following a recent dispute between Stenger and a group of investors, Raymond assured Stenger he was “a great man” in a July email.

Stenger and his partner, Ariel Quiros, changed the terms of a deal with EB-5 immigrant investors over money raised to build a hotel at Jay Peak.

Stenger and Quiros have said they had the right to change the deal but acknowledge they failed to properly notify their investors. Some of the investors question the legitimacy of the new deal, which was transacted without their knowledge, and have turned to the state for help. They were dissatisfied with the state’s response to their concerns, and they wonder who’s watching out for their interests and whether the state’s relationship with the developer is too close.

Raymond says his relationship with Stenger is “hardly cozy.”

Bill Stenger stands before the future Stateside Hotel at Jay Peak. He predicts it will open to guests by December, after only starting construction in April. Photo by Hilary Niles/VTDigger

Bill Stenger at the construction site of the Stateside Hotel at Jay Peak. File photo by Hilary Niles/VTDigger

“Both myself and other Regional Center staff work long hours every day to monitor projects and do our best to protect investors required by the USCIS to be an ‘at risk’ investment,” Raymond said by email. “I know our requests and questions sometimes cause our project principals to be frustrated, but that’s our job. If I didn’t feel that I was able to be impartial and serve my duties to the state, our projects and their investors ethically, then I would resign.”

In an email to the state, one of the investors, whose name was redacted by state officials, says he can’t understand why Raymond isn’t acting in an independent capacity, “unless the representations by the state of Vermont and its Regional Center are in and of themselves misrepresentations to induce investors?”

The disgruntled investors say they worry that state officials, including Gov. Peter Shumlin, are so intent on job creation that they are not holding Stenger accountable enough. For example, the governor made comments about the state’s level of oversight of the investment program that were inaccurate and needed to be removed from a promotional video produced by Jay Peak. Shumlin incorrectly said the projects are audited by the regional center.

Shumlin has staked his reputation as a jobs creator in part on the economic development impact of Stenger and Quiros’ projects in the Northeast Kingdom. The governor has traveled to China to help Stenger raise funds from foreign investors who can obtain permission to live in the United States with a $500,000 investment.

The developments have already dramatically improved economic prospects in the state’s poorest region. For the first time, Orleans County job growth outpaced all other counties in the latest state revenue analysis.

Brent Raymond, director of Vermont's EB-5 Regional Center. File photo by Hilary Niles/VTDigger

Brent Raymond, director of Vermont’s EB-5 Regional Center. File photo by Hilary Niles/VTDigger

To date, Stenger and Quiros have attracted 1,089 investors and raised $544.5 million for the Economic Development Initiative, which includes seven projects at Jay Peak Resort, a ski area and four-season destination resort near the Canadian border; AnC Bio, a biotech company; and Q Burke, a ski area near Lyndonville.

State official, Jay Peak coordinate media response

In the wake of a VTDigger report on investor complaints, Raymond offered to help Stenger, the CEO and president of Jay Peak. Raymond wrote in an email to Stenger that he hoped “we can repair this reputational damage, and move on, but it won’t be easy.”

“You’re still a great man in my book,” Raymond continues. “Unfortunately, I don’t think there’ll be a great demand for my memoirs. :-)”

A short explainer on EB-5 projects in the Northeast Kingdom

What is the Tram Haus?

The Tram Haus Lodge was built in 2008 and is the first EB-5 project for both Jay Peak and the state. Stenger and Quiros built the $23.5 million hotel with $17.5 million from 35 immigrant investors and $6 million in private equity. Each of the 35 limited partners in Jay Peak Hotel Suites, LP, invested $500,000 in the Tram Haus Lodge through the federal EB-5 Immigrant Investor program.

The luxury hotel is phase 1 of an expansion of Jay Peak Resort, a ski area near the Canadian border, that has been transformed into a four-season destination with more hotels, condos, a water park, ice arena, club house, base lodge, and a business conference center. Jay Peak has funded the expansion with $314.5 million in capital from 629 immigrant investors.

How does EB-5 work?

In exchange for an at-risk cash investment of $500,000, each investor is granted permanent residency in the United States if at least 10 jobs can be attributed to each investment.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services determined the Tram Haus created those jobs, and granted permanent residency to the investors who applied for it. Although there was never a guarantee their capital would be returned, disgruntled investors in the Tram Haus say Jay Peak led them to believe the money would be repaid after five years.

What is the Northeast Kingdom Economic Development Initiative?

The Jay Peak Resort expansion is part of an interconnected set of developments in Vermont. The Northeast Kingdom Economic Development Initiative originally included developments at the Jay Peak Resort and Q Burke ski resorts, improvements to a local airport, and developments in Newport, including an office building, a window factory, a biotechnology research and manufacturing campus, and a marina, hotel and conference center.

Plans to bring the German window manufacturing company Menck to Newport fell through in September 2013. The buildout of the state-owned Newport State Airport was pulled from the EB-5 pipeline in favor of private equity. The mixed-use Renaissance Block in downtown Newport and a waterfront marina, hotel and conference center on Lake Memphremagog remain in limbo months after real estate complications surfaced this spring.

The pared down initiative, which now includes the Jay Peak Resort expansion, AnC Bio and Q Burke, is funded with $544.5 million from 1,089 investors.

What is the state’s involvement?

The Vermont EB-5 Regional Center is charged with monitoring EB-5 projects in Vermont. The center also promotes projects to immigrant investors. State officials have touted the Northeast Kingdom Initiative as a showpiece of Vermont’s EB-5 program.

The Vermont EB-5 Regional Center, which is part of the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development, was long the only state-run program in the United States, until Michigan formed its own regional center earlier this year.

That exchange follows months of correspondence between Raymond and investors who were outraged by the way they have been treated by Jay Peak.

More than a year ago, Stenger and his partner at Jay Peak, Miami-based Ariel Quiros, converted the equity stakes of 35 investors in the Tram Haus Lodge into unsecured loans with a nine-year payback period. The investors’ limited partnership shares in Jay Peak Hotel Suites, LP, the business entity for the Tram Haus were terminated as part of the transaction. The investors did not receive the redemption agreement and promissory note that sealed the deal on Aug. 31, 2013, until eight months later.

In May and June, 15 of the Tram Haus investors questioned the adequacy of the state’s oversight of the Jay Peak projects in a series of complaints filed with Raymond.

Investors say Jay Peak seized their $500,000 equity stakes in the Tram Haus Lodge without their knowledge and kept them in the dark about the finances of the project. Several investors have said that their expectation, based on the terms of their limited partnership agreement, was that the hotel would be sold after five years and they would recoup their investment with a profit.

The group of disgruntled investors say they put their faith in Jay Peak because of assurances that the Vermont Regional Center would vet the EB-5 projects.

When the investors complained to the state, Raymond told them to direct their questions to Jay Peak. The investors were outraged that he was not willing to assist them directly, and they emailed a new set of complaints to another state official over the July Fourth weekend. VTDigger published a story about the complaints on July 27.

When the story went public, Stenger apologized for what he described as an “unintentional delay” in communication with the investors. Stenger said he dissolved the partnership because a few of the investors were asking for an “exit strategy,” and he felt compelled to develop a repayment schedule. All of the investors have received permanent residency in the United States.

Discussion about the complaints, a Fortune Magazine mention, the VTDigger article and a British expatriate forum feature prominently in correspondence between the state and Jay Peak.

In the email exchange, Raymond and Stenger discuss the impact of media reports on Jay Peak and other projects planned in the Northeast Kingdom. All identifying information about investors was redacted before the records were provided to VTDigger.

Raymond assesses the potential damage from the Fortune Magazine article about an EB-5 embezzlement scheme in Chicago. The story mentions in a caption that Jay Peak had not yet paid back the first group of EB-5 investors.

“You two entrepreneurs were known internationally as the best and most honest in the EB-5 industry,” Raymond wrote. “Angered Phase 1 investors have gone to multiple media outlets, causing everything you’ve accomplished to be doubted and shrouding the entire VT RC under a cloud.”

Raymond notified Quiros and Stenger of a media request on an international forum posted by a VTDigger reporter asking EB-5 investors to share their experiences and perspectives on the program. “FYI,” Raymond wrote to Stenger and Quiros in an email with the link.

Several days later, Stenger sent Raymond a detailed description of an interview with VTDigger.

In response, Raymond says he was “blindsided” by a VTDigger reporter who contacted him after the Stenger interview. “I know you’re busy,” Raymond writes. “I really do know you’re extremely busy, but a quick courtesy heads up would have been helpful.”

In an email the following day, he tells Stenger he “sent several remarks to Pat Moulton to provide better perspective should we choose to respond.” Moulton is the secretary of the Agency of Commerce and Community Development.

Raymond said in a comment requested for this story that he has acted professionally and ethically.

“I have known Bill Stenger for a long time,” Raymond said by email. “I was the bond trustee officer for a VEDA Jay Peak municipal bond many years prior to my current role as Executive Director of the Regional Center. A position I have held for just over 2 years. We have a professional working relationship, as I do with all EB5 projects principals, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t had differences of opinion. I know that as I’ve performed my responsibilities both Bill Stenger and Ariel Quiros have sometimes disagreed with me. That’s inevitable due to the Regional Center’s role. I don’t think any project would consider their relationship with me or the Regional Center to be ‘cozy,’ but I would hope they consider me to be professional and ethical.”

Governor makes “misstatement” in Jay Peak video

State officials have long promoted the resort and other Vermont EB-5 immigrant investor projects as a way of bringing capital into the state for economic development.

Last year, Gov. Peter Shumlin and a retinue of other state officials, including Raymond and Lawrence Miller, who was secretary of the Agency of Commerce and Community Development at the time, traveled to China to help Jay Peak and other companies attract investors. Jay Peak paid for the trip. Alexandra MacLean, a former Shumlin aide who was a consultant for Jay Peak, traveled with the group and was copied on several of the emails between Stenger and Raymond.

In addition, Shumlin was filmed for a Jay Peak promotional video. He tells would-be investors that Vermont’s EB-5 projects are “audited.”

“Vermont is the only EB-5 program that covers the entire state of Vermont and is audited by the state of Vermont,” Shumlin says. “We make sure that our EB-5 program offerings are good investments for the investor, and good economic development job creators for the state of Vermont.”

The state has not conducted financial audits of the program, according to John Kessler, the general counsel for the Agency of Commerce and Community Development.

Northeast Kingdom Economic Development Initiative

The project costs cited below are approximate and do not include additional private capital. Job numbers reflect the estimated value of direct, indirect and induced employment (combined) generated by the investments.

Jay Peak Hotel Suites (Phase I)
Tram Haus
$17.5 million EB-5 money
35 investors
350 jobs (total)
Project complete, and all investors granted permanent green cards.

Jay Peak Hotel Suites Phase II
Hotel Jay and water park, ice arena, golf course, club house and commercial conference center
150 investors
$75 million EB-5 money
1,500 jobs (total)
Project complete, and all investors granted permanent green cards.

Jay Peak Penthouse Project
55 suites on the top floor of Hotel Jay
130 investors
$65 million EB-5 money
1,300 jobs (total)
Project complete, and all investors granted permanent green cards.

Jay Peak Phase III-A
Golf & Mountain Suites
90 investors
$45 million EB-5 money
900 jobs (total)
Project complete, and all investors granted permanent green cards.

Jay Peak Phase III-B
Lodge & Townhouses
90 investors
$45 million EB-5 money
900 jobs (total)
Project complete, and all investors granted permanent green cards.

Jay Peak Phase III-C
Stateside hotel and base lodge
134 investors
$67 million EB-5 money
1,340 jobs (total)
Project nearly complete, and all investors granted conditional green cards.

AnC Bio
220 investors
$110 million EB-5 money
2,200 jobs (total)
Project pending Act 250 and other permits. Conditional green cards have started to be approved.

Q Burke Mountain Resort
Hotels, conference center and recreation facilities
240 investors
$120 million EB-5 money
2,400 jobs (total)
Ground broken for initial construction. Conditional green cards have not yet been approved.

Granting of conditional visas comes first, and indicates USCIS has signed off on the business plan and its job creation projections. Granting of permanent residency indicates USCIS has recognized job creation.

In a statement, the governor’s office said Shumlin recognizes the agency “does not audit these projects, but provides independent oversight.” The governor says the Vermont EB-5 center has been an important tool for Vermont’s economic development and “the agency works hard to ensure projects do not wrongly characterize the state’s role in promotional materials.”

In a June 24 memo, Kessler asks Stenger and Quiros to take the promotional video down to edit out the governor’s “misstatement” and make other changes. Kessler’s email to Jay Peak was a response to a Tram Haus investor complaint about the video.

“I am glad to learn you are removing it from Jay Peak’s web site,” Kessler wrote. “I share Brent’s concern about the portion where the governor says the State audits projects. No matter how many ways one could interpret his use of the term ‘audit,’ we have consistently advised the governor and anyone else not to describe the regional center’s oversight role as involving the performance of financial audits.

“Moreover, you will recall that a couple of years ago we asked you to hire an outside auditor to do just that and you reported to us that it was too much of an expense and that you would rely upon the overall audit done on Jay Peak rather than a separate audit focused exclusively on EB5,” Kessler wrote. “So, the reality is an audit of Jay Peak’s EB5 projects is not performed by the State OR Jay Peak.”

A Tram Haus investor also took issue with claims made by Stenger.

In the video, Stenger says, “all Jay Peak projects pay back investors after the fifth year.” He also says immigrant investors will see a 4 percent to 6 percent quarterly rate of return. The Tram Haus investor says in an email to the state that the actual rate of return the resort paid out on the phase 1 project was 2 percent.

Kessler asks Stenger to remove the reference to the five-year payback in the video because “we recently learned Jay Peak in August of 2013 converted the pay back on the Phase 1 Tram Haus project to a nine-year period through an unsecured promissory note.” In the final line of the memo, Kessler says all marketing materials for Jay Peak, Q Burke and AnC Bio must now be approved by the agency.

The video, which was translated into Chinese, is still available online. A translator verified for VTDigger that the governor’s “misstatement,” the assertions that investors to date had received 5 percent to 6 percent return and claims of repayment scheduled after five years have not been removed from the Chinese version of the video.

Similar claims were made in a promotional flier for an EB-5 seminar in South Africa last year.

Regional center reporting requirements

The Tram Haus investors’ involvement in Jay Peak predates Shumlin’s video misstatement about the state auditing projects by about five years.

In a response to the first complaint he received from Tram Haus investors in May, Raymond tried to disabuse the investor of the notion that the center has ever promised to review project financials. “I’m happy to assist in your obtaining financial information from Ariel Quiros and Bill Stenger if you haven’t already received it, but want to be clear the Regional Center has not been auditing their financials – nor are we required to, or ever represented that we were,” he wrote in an email.

Disgruntled investors have said in emails to the state that they are disappointed that Raymond has not done more to protect their investment in the Tram Haus.

Moulton and Raymond have said there is little the regional center can do to help investors who are already invested in projects.

“We’ve advised investors that if you feel something is wrong you should get counsel but it’s not our purview in the regional center,” Moulton said. “As long as it’s in compliance with the SEC and USCIS, the rest is up to investors and the company. I don’t think it reflects poorly on the regional center. We have been doing our due diligence.”

While audits of the projects are not conducted by the state, Raymond has publicly touted other aspects of the center’s oversight of EB-5 projects.

Raymond told the Argus Leader in South Dakota that once a project is approved, “We actively look and we view the projects, we look for any evidence of improper marketing, any evidence of anything even becoming potentially questionable, and we quickly seek out solutions to immediately take care of any concerns that we have.”

Patricia Moulton is secretary of the Agency of Commerce and Community Development. Photo by Hilary Niles/VTDigger

Patricia Moulton is secretary of the Agency of Commerce and Community Development. Photo by Hilary Niles/VTDigger

“Because of our track record, it attracts people from all over the world that aren’t even sure what ‘Vermont’ is,” Raymond told the Argus Leader. “I think it provides comfort to a lot of investors and investor representatives that there’s an independent third party that’s approved a project, but in addition to (federal agencies) is constantly looking at the project and meeting with them on a quarterly basis.”

In the case of Jay Peak, such scrutiny did not occur.

Pat Moulton, the secretary of the Agency of Commerce and Community Development, said an interview in July that the center has been monitoring Jay Peak “right along.”

But before the publicity about the Tram Haus deal, the regional center did not require any formal reporting, even though MOUs with all the EB-5 projects include a clause that quarterly reports are to be submitted.

Raymond was aware of the elimination of the Tram Haus investors’ partnership shares in Jay Peak Hotel Suites, LP, at the end of August last year. But Stenger did not inform Raymond about the terms of the new deal, and Raymond did not ask for specifics.

Raymond said Jay Peak representatives verbally told him the resort had agreed on an exit strategy for the immigrant limited partners. He said in July that he assumed the investors were being paid off, and that they were satisfied.

“I guess I can blame myself for making assumptions,” Raymond said.

Recently, the center put the resort “on notice,” according to Moulton, and is requiring the company to submit quarterly reports.

The agency is now mandating that all developers certify on an annual basis that no material changes have been made to limited partnership agreements. Developers must also notify the agency of any planned material changes in advance.

Raymond said in comments for this story that the regional center’s role is to monitor projects for compliance with USCIS requirements and the covenants of the Private Placement Memorandum.

“When a project’s investors contact the Regional Center we act quickly and efficiently both to answer any questions or concerns, as well as to obtain information from project principal(s) and/or the GP [General Partner] to ascertain if there have been any violation of covenants,” Raymond said.

He says the state can do little to address the root of investors’ complaints. The limited partnership agreement they signed sets the parameters for what actions the General Partner, Bill Stenger in this case, can take.

“The Regional Center conducts due diligence on new projects and their principals, reviews project pro-formas, third party economic jobs analysis, the PPM and other documents to ensure they meet or surpass industry standards,” he wrote in an email. “The financial arrangements contained in any Limited Partnership – whether related to an EB-5 project or not – require the General Partner (GP) to act as a fiduciary to the Limited Partners (LP), but the GP most often yields considerable control over business decisions. The Regional Center and I cannot change legal covenants contained within a Limited Partnership Agreement between a GP and its LPs back in 2007 because some investors don’t like a seemingly allowable exit strategy.”

Anne Galloway

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32 Comments on "VTDigger Exclusive: EB-5 investors question state watchdog’s independence"

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Mike Deuso
1 year 10 months ago

Let me undestand this, he pays 500, 000 $ he gets a green card thanks to jaypeak, then he starts to get paid back with interest that he new he may not when he signed up , must be the green card is very important to him.and now he crying shame on them.

Bill Olenick
1 year 10 months ago

Bait and switch.
Do not assume Mr.Raymond or you make an ass/u/me.
Thou protest too much…
The whole affair stinks of bad karma.

Ann Meade
1 year 10 months ago

Appearance of impropriety is always the kiss of death. The state and the media have done everything put a crown on Mr. Stenger so I can understand why people from outside the state would think this program looks like it is being run to benefit him. Mr. Raymond needs to stop assuming anything and should be replaced with someone who is willing to hold everyone’s feet to the fire.

Edward Clark
1 year 10 months ago

Did any of the investors not get their green card? Have any of the investors lost their investment or any part of it? Are any investors not getting paid interest on their investment? Is it the obligation of the State to make sure foreign investors read the contracts they sign? The answer to all of these questions seems to be NO. Has the State and the NEK benefited from these investments? The answer seems to be YES. Where is the story here?

Chris Lewis
1 year 10 months ago

right…who needs independent investor oversight?

Even Madoff was still paying 10% before he got busted.

What is the big deal?

Rod West
1 year 10 months ago

This is some impressive reporting. Good job Digger!

Michael Colby
1 year 10 months ago
Speaking of “cozy relationships,” how about the one between VTDigger and the lobbying firm of KSE? How else could one explain the omission of any mention of Alex MacLean in this report? She’s the obvious direct link between the Shumlin administration and Jay Peak, having worked for them both at the highest levels before jumping from the Jay Peak ship when it hit these recent rough waters, landing comfortably as a partner at KSE. Yeah, she’s the one looming large in the KSE advertisement popping up all over this site. But somehow she escaped the spotlight — or even a… Read more »
1 year 10 months ago
Hi Michael, Anne is away but I wanted to address the fair point you raised. Alexandra MacLean, who was a consultant to Jay Peak at the time of these email exchanges, was copied on several of the emails between Mr. Raymond and Mr. Stenger. She was the subject of none of them. The dialogue was strictly between Stenger, Raymond and ACCD attorney John Kessler. However, her former association with Gov. Shumlin is relevant in the overall picture — we have reported that fact many times and we will add it to this story as well. The inference that MacLean was… Read more »
Abdul Wahaab
1 year 10 months ago

Jay Peak is an underwriter for VTDigger? Where can we find a list of all VTDigger underwriters?

1 year 10 months ago

Abdul, underwriters are advertisers and their ads appear on our site. Jay Peak has advertised on our site in the past. The editorial staff has no role in underwriting and the business staff has no role in editorial content.

Michael Colby
1 year 10 months ago
Anne and Tom: I’ve seen the one sentence you added to the original piece that quite necessarily brings Alex MacLean into this story. While I appreciate the addition, the Alex MacLean connection to this story needs much, much more amplification, just as your role in obfuscating MacLean’s involvement needs more explanation. When Alex MacLean left the Shumlin administration in January 2013 to work for Stegner and Jay Peak, VTDigger reported that her new job would be to “oversee investor recruitment and investor relations” for its EB-5 program. Moreover, MacLean was also to “manage communication for the [EB-5] project.” This was… Read more »
1 year 10 months ago
Michael, as you’ve probably observed, underwriting ads on our site rotate based on the timing and frequency of impressions purchased at any given time. KSE’s ad simply ran its course; it has nothing whatsoever to do with this story or the comments you have made on this platform. As Tom has already underscored, underwriting ads have no bearing whatsoever on the content or direction of reporting. As a non-profit news daily with no income from subscribers, underwriting is a service we provide which advertisers purchase. It is a crucial part of our budget, provides nearly 50% of our operating costs,… Read more »
Randy Koch
1 year 10 months ago

So reducing all this to crude terms, it sounds like Coyote Pete Shumlin and Coyote Bill Stenger are bringing in (millionaire) wetbacks to hustle. Their Honduran or Mexican counterparts are just dealing with fewer zeros: theirs is an EB-.0005 “program”.

This whole thing is lousy as immigration policy considering that the average impoverished and desperate illegal from Honduras or Mexico probably has 500,000 times the drive, ingenuity, and motivation to succeed than these Business Class EB-5’ers, 500,000 times as much to offer the USA as permanent residents.

1 year 10 months ago
Anne, Raymond appears to be the lapdog in Shumlin’s lap. Campaign contributions all around. No wonder Shumlin’s campaign chest is bulging. He knows how to get the money, one way or another, the latter being the Dodge affair, where he did “nothing wrong”. Did not Shumlin and Stenger, with entourage, fly business class (or was it first class, or was it on a private plane?) to China to round up multi-millionaires who fear the day of reckoning regarding how they acquired their money and who are desperate to get of China, with their families, to get: – Residency permits in… Read more »
Andrew Carr
1 year 10 months ago
LETS PUT THIS IN A NUTSHELL $500,000 was invested into the Jay Peak hotel by some investors under the understanding that their money would be returned with interest after 5 years as a result of the sale of the hotel. 5 years later Stenger decided not to give the investors their money back but unilaterally dissolved their ownership share, and converted it into to an unsecured IOU. Stenger goes on the record and insists the IOU is “guaranteed” despite the fact that not a single asset is named on the IOU. Further more Stenger chose to hide his dirty deed… Read more »
1 year 10 months ago
Andrew, May be you do not get the whole picture. Stenger, et al, likely knew they were getting into the murky deep end with their no-win (except for real insiders) projects. To start with, these projects had no prospects, no chance of success, without plenty of “free” money. When project results, even with state subsidies, turn out even worse than feared (and certainly a whole lot worse than touted), those with the least clout, the Chinese investors, got clipped first, by giving them IOUs carefully structured so as to have little or no recourse. Next time Shumlin, et al, go… Read more »
Kathy Nelson
1 year 10 months ago

Willem,

“The state’s government, including Shumlin’s lapdog, Shumlin, Welch, Sanders, etc., all were in on the game to keep EB-5 going, being rewarded with campaign contributions for doing “constituent service” in Congress, and talking up the EB-5 program many times in Vermont, often with Stenger, et al, in tow.”

You forgot to add Patrick Leahy to this list. He was, and is, the biggest supporter of this EB-5 superscam. Same goes for the “renewable’ energy megascam. VT has hit an all time low with its Reps, Sens and corrupt governor.

John Smith
1 year 10 months ago
When Shumlin solicits these investments without a securities license he is most likely breaking securities laws… Of course one of the regulators in charge of this enforcement is under control of, and appointed by peter Shumlin, which may be why he has not been prosecuted. I wonder though if state securities regulators have provided an official opinion on the matter… So Peter Shumlin tries to steal his neighbors house, now he’s on to selling a Ponzi scheme to unsuspecting foreign investors. I hope taxpayers and the attorney generals office understand that this behavior exposes the state and it’s taxpayers to… Read more »
1 year 10 months ago

Wow! Great investigative reporting; Vermont, or at least Digger, goes pro. So well done, so much, hmmm, digging. There are so many investigative reporting stories to do in this state. Just ask any court reporter and the leads are like falling leaves in October.

Judith Henault
1 year 10 months ago

Great reporting! No Audit of any kind by anyone? That pretty much says it all. Oh, yes, and the fact that Raymond once ‘worked’ for Jay Peak.

Please keep up the good work. There is a lot more to this story. Let us know when the Chinese get an accurate, truthful video.

marilyn houston
1 year 10 months ago

questions: Is Raymond a Vt.state employee and who paid his expenses to China?

Rory Malone
1 year 10 months ago
Once again the Gov. opens his mouth, makes a promise, and fails to deliver. I am embarrassed I supported him. I am as dyed in the wool Democrat as they come but I cannot support this Governor. Every day more and more information comes out (a lot due to the good work done by the folks here at VTDigger) that show that Shumlin is in over his head. There is a business maxim called “The Peter Principle” It states that people are promoted to the level of their incompetence. It basically says that lower level employees are promoted for doing… Read more »
David Matthews
1 year 10 months ago
Because at one time I was on the Stowe Recreation Commission and we were all jealous of how Jay Peak managed to build and pay for a beautiful rink while ours was crumbling before our eyes, my wife and I took a drive up to see for ourselves on a bright warm late June weekend afternoon. It was beautiful, very impressive. I commented on that back home to some people on the building, and also my curious observation that it was wide open, but no one was there skating on the perfect “Zambonied” ice surface, the interior lights were blazing… Read more »
Patricia Moulton
1 year 10 months ago
To the Editor and Board of Vermont Digger: The Agency of Commerce is compelled to correct several inaccurate allegations that Vermont Digger published in the October 5 story “Vermont Digger Exclusive: EB-5 Investors Question State’s Watchdog Role.” The article incorrectly alleges that the state should have demanded quarterly reports from Jay Peak Resorts, but did not, thus not adequately monitoring the project. Some of the EB-5 investors in the private limited partnership that financed the construction of the Tram Haus Lodge objected to an action taken by Bill Stenger, the General Partner, that was within the authority of the agreement… Read more »
Bill Gardyne
1 year 10 months ago

There seem to be a lot of armchair/keyboard business experts regularly posting on this site that don’t seem to want any economic development in Vermont in general and definately no economic development in the NEK in particular. For those of us who live AND work here, the jobs already created by and those proposed by the NEK Initiative are greatly appreciated and eagerly awaited. Ms.Moulton has clearly stated the facts and whether you agree with the concept of the EB-5 program or not, there is no scandal or impropriety here. As someone once said, it’s a nothingburger…

Ann Meade
1 year 10 months ago

It appears that the state has total control or no control over this process, depending on what happens on any given day. This is all pretty disturbing but to hear the state promise $350 million in economic development to a region and then Stenger can’t come up with 100k to make a payment on a building he promised to buy is a little perplexing.

Randy Koch
1 year 10 months ago
So the investor/immigrants don’t really expect to pay anything for quasi-citizenship: they need only to beg/borrow/steal $500,000, give it to Stenger for a few years, and then get their principal back with interest. Given that the banking system is awash with hot cash from the Fed’s QE/money supply expansions, why can’t Stenger himself just borrow from a regular bank? A grade schooler could infer the answer: because Stenger’s grandiose schemes are too shaky. The fishiness is baked in to the projects from the state and that’s why the state doesn’t bother with closer supervision. From the point of view of… Read more »
John Perry
1 year 10 months ago

How many honest-to-god, NEW, wage-paying, tax-contributing, health-care-benefits, better-than-minimum-wage, JOBS have been “created” by this scheme? Who is counting them? Or are they like the ponzi-like returns on investment traded for green cards? How much does a room cost in the Dubai-like palace in the clouds? Who is going to stay there?

Kate martin
1 year 10 months ago
Can someone tell me why state officials travelled to china on Jay peaks dime? If they travelled on jay peaks dime then they are bought and paid for by jay, so they would only be promoting jay projects. is this a “pay to play” situation? Another words does every eb5 project in the state have to pay for state officials travel if they want to be promotes to foreign investors? Wouldn’t this make it difficult on smaller projects that are looking for investment as they would have to come up w money for state officials to travel on? what is… Read more »
Jamie Carter
1 year 10 months ago

No an EB-5 does not require that the company doing the project pay for state officials to travel with them. State officials do not need to even go, however there is an obvious benefit when talking with potential investors to have state officials there to show they are on board with the program. At that point, while not required, it would seem to be appropriate that the company who is benefiting from the investors pay for the travel as opposed to the tax payers.

Patricia Moulton
1 year 10 months ago
This is an editorial recently written by Emerson Lynn of the St. Albans Messenger. Ms. Moulton made her case Brent Raymond is the executive director of the Vermont Regional Center and included in his responsibilities is understanding and being able to defend the state’s EB-5 projects. At the top of his list would be the EB-5 projects at Jay Peak. In a state the size of Vermont that necessitates knowing the principals on a first-name basis. It requires a strong degree of familiarity with the projects and those who run them. Vermont is one of two states that essentially acts… Read more »
Mike Deuso
1 year 10 months ago

I would suggest that Ann do a story on the investors, as in what have they used there green cards for maybe sent their kids to the finest school or maybe made $$$ from business transactions or received grants of one kind or another maybe they want there cake and eat it too on the american tax payer.

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