Felipe Vieira: a defrauded EB-5 investor

The EB-5 funded development projects at Jay Peak and others sites on the Vermont – Canadian border are now emerging as the largest scandal in the history of the EB-5 program, which enables foreigners to buy permanent residency visas if they put up $500,000 and create ten jobs. The Vermont Digger reports on one Brazilian family whose lives are in turmoil due to the scandal. Go here for the initial posting which explains EB-5 and this project.

The Vermont Digger reported that about 400 investors out of a total of 700 in the Jay Peak and AnC Bio Vermont projects do not yet have permanent residency in the United States, according to documents provided to the court by the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation, which participated in the SEC investigation. The investors come from 74 different countries.

At a hearing in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Florida in Miami, Securities and Exchange Commission lawyers presented the case of Felipe Vieira, an investor from Brazil, has started a new life in Stowe with his wife and daughter. Vieira said he saved for two years and sold his farm and an apartment building before he was able in 2012 to invest $500,000 in the Stateside project at Jay Peak. Vieira said he moved to the United States to give his daughter better educational opportunities.

Jay Peak’s CEO Bill Stenger had promised Vieira would make a return of 4% to 6% a year on his investment and Vieira had hoped to use the proceeds to help support his family in Vermont. The returns, however, were much lower than advertised. Instead of $20,000 a year (at 4%), Vieira made about $3,000 total.

Because the project has not been completed, and 10 jobs per investor have not been created per the EB-5 program requirements, the immigration status of investors like Vieira is in jeopardy.

Vieira said he visited Jay Peak to see how construction work was progressing. Stenger never told him construction workers had walked off the job because they hadn’t been paid. Nor was Vieira aware that Stenger and Quiros had siphoned off money from Stateside to pay for other projects. On Sept. 30, 2015, there was less than $60,000 in the Stateside bank account, according to the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation.

Vieira works as a financial analyst for the Agency of Transportation, and his daughter is a junior in high school. She is taking AP science classes in order to enroll as a pre-med student, he said.

He told the court that his conditional green card expires in September.

“If my permanent green card is denied, basically I have to dismantle all this life,” Vieira said.

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