The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has reached a settlement with Jay Peak owner Ariel Quiros in the Jay Peak fraud case, holding him liable for paying back $81.3 million and fining him an additional $1 million, reports Burlingtonfreepress.com. He will avoid jail time though.
Quiros, along with partner Bill Stenger, was accused by the SEC in April 2016 of perpetrating a massive EB-5 fraud at Jay Peak and other locations in the Northeast Kingdom, misusing $200 million from foreign investors. Quiros was accused of personally profiting from more than $50 million.
The EB-5 program offers green cards to foreign investors in exchange for investing in projects in the United States that create jobs. Stenger and Quiros raised some $350 million for projects at Jay Peak, at Burke Mountain Resort, and in Newport.
The SEC’s final judgment against Quiros orders 17 properties, including the Jay Peak and Burke Mountain ski resorts and two New York City condominiums, and about $417,000 in frozen cash to be turned over to federal receiver Michael Goldberg to satisfy the $81.3 million Quiros owes, according to papers filed Friday in federal court in Miami. Goldberg plans to sell the properties for the benefit of defrauded investors.
“In pursuing fraudulent actors, we seek not only to hold wrongdoers accountable, but also to return as much money as possible to victims,” Eric Bustillo, director of the SEC’s Miami Regional Office, said in a statement.
Bustillo said the settlement achieved the SEC’s objectives by “stripping” Quiros of the proceeds of his “fraudulent scheme,” and by requiring him to turn over the valuable property for the benefit of harmed investors.
“The SEC’s emergency action halted an alleged massive fraud that Jay Peak, Quiros, and Stenger perpetrated on more than 700 investors from at least 74 countries,” Stephanie Avakian, co-director of the SEC’s enforcement division, said in a statement.
In a joint statement, Attorney General T.J. Donovan and Gov. Phil Scott said the settlement will provide Goldberg the legal title to Jay Peak, Burke Mountain and other properties formerly owned by Quiros, enabling the federal receiver to sell to a permanent owner.
Even though Quiros and Stenger have reached settlements with the SEC, both face lawsuits from the state of Vermont. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Vermont also acknowledged in April 2016 that a criminal investigation was underway.