EB-5 and skiing in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom: The monumental scandal won’t deter the zealous skiers of the Green Mountain State
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Last spring, the biggest ski-related scandal in Vermont’s history ignited when the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) brought charges of fraud against Ariel Quiros and Bill Stenger—owners and operators of Jay Peak and Burke Mountain. The SEC alleged that over $200 million of the over $400 million raised from a government program called EB-5 had been misappropriated. EB-5 gives foreign backers (and their families) who invest a minimum of $500,000 in qualifying stateside projects a fast track to United States citizenship, granted the project creates a minimum of 10 jobs.
The situation resembled the aftermath of a college house party: a mess complete with confusion, shame and an unpleasant stench. For Jay, the scandal took an eight-year stretch that saw the ski area evolve into a cash cow destination resort and flipped it on its head. At Burke, it was another sour note on top of four years of Quiros ownership that included a name change to “Q Burke Resort,” a slap in the face to one of Vermont’s loyal ski communities. And the foreign financiers were left wondering if they’d ever get a return on their investments.