Investors to Get Back $81 Million in Ski Resort Scheme

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By Victoria Graham

A Miami businessman has agreed to pay back more than $81 million to 700 foreign investors who put up money for a Vermont ski resort and nearby biomedical research facility, the SEC said Feb. 2.

Ariel Quiros allegedly used more than $50 million from foreigners participating in an EB-5 immigrant investment program to purchase a different ski resort and luxury New York City condominiums, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission release.

The terms of the SEC settlement require Quiros to pay back $81 million along with a $1 million penalty. He will also forfeit $417,000 in cash previously frozen by the SEC, the agency said.

The settlement stems from a 2016 SEC complaint that alleges Quiros spearheaded a nearly eight-year fraudulent scheme in which more than $200 million of investor funds were misused.

Quiros along with William Stenger, president and CEO of a Vermont-based ski resort, Jay Peak, Inc., participated in an investment program that promised investors eligibility to apply for a green card pending investment in a U.S. commercial enterprise.

More than $350 million was raised by investors from 74 countries to fund the construction of a biomedical research facility and resort additions, such as hotel suites, at Jay Peak ski resort in Jay, Vt.

Construction for the seven investment projects was never completed and in some cases never even started.

While Stenger didn’t personally profit off the investor funds, he has agreed to pay a $75,000 penalty for recklessly ceding control of the funds to Quiros.

Quiros and Stenger agreed to their settlements without admitting or denying the SEC’s allegations, the commission said. Both are banned from participating in any future EB-5 offerings.

“We are very pleased to be another step closer to resolving all claims against Mr. Quiros,” Melissa Damian Visconti, attorney for Quiros, told Bloomberg Law Feb. 2.

The case is SEC v. Quiros , S.D. Fla., No. 1:16-cv-21301-DPG, motion for judgment 2/2/18 .

To contact the reporter on this story: Victoria Graham in Washington at vgraham@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Seth Stern at sstern@bloomberglaw.com

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