“The most popular sport in America is complaining about the federal government. What you are seeing here is a marriage and partnership between private business and federal, state and local government.” Those were Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’ words in October 2012 when it came to a once-glittering economic development plan to revive the northeast part of his state.
A bi-partisan partnership between private business and federal, state and local government to be sure, but also allegedly a sophisticated multi-million dollar Ponzi scheme, according to a 52-count complaint unsealed Thursday by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The alleged Ponzi scheme ties an EB-5 investor program championed by Jay Peak Ski Resort, a popular 78-trail mountain in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, which raised over $350 million from foreign investors to expand its facilities and create local jobs. The EB-5 program, supported by the State of Vermont and both of its Senators, Bernie Sanders and Patrick Leahy, offered foreigners the opportunity to invest between $500,000 to $1 million in developments that projected returns of 2% to 6% and a pathway to U.S. citizenship within two years.
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