ACLU & Cornell Law file lawsuit against State of Vermont over EB-5 records
Vermont Business Magazine Represented by Cornell Law School’s First Amendment Clinic and the ACLU, the Vermont Journalism Trust filed a public records lawsuit today to obtain additional records related to the still unresolved EB-5 scandal. The State of Vermont is again withholding EB-5 records, citing the “litigation exemption” under Vermont’s Public Records Act – exemption state agencies have relied on repeatedly to prevent public disclosure.
Heather Murray, Managing Attorney of the Local Journalism Project, Cornell First Amendment Clinic: “Today’s suit aims to bolster VTDigger’s excellent investigative reporting on this major financial fraud by challenging the State’s broad interpretation of the litigation exemption, which may be shielding from the public valuable information about how much the State knew about this fraud prior to taking action.” Associate Clinic Director Cortelyou Kenney and law students Haylei John, Michael Mills, and Brian Marte provided critical assistance in preparing the Complaint.
Since 2012, the Vermont Journalism Trust, operating as VTDigger, has reported on the State’s oversight of the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa Program, a federal program designed to create jobs and stimulate foreign capital investment in low-income regions.
In August of 2020, VTDigger requested documents from the Agency of Commerce and Community Development (“ACCD”), which operated the Vermont EB-5 Regional Center, to understand why the State continued to endorse the solicitation of investors for EB-5 projects despite increasing evidence of fraud. ACCD denied that request on September 29, resulting in this lawsuit.
Lia Ernst, senior staff attorney, ACLU of Vermont: “The EB-5 scandal shows the need for more transparent and accountable government, and that is exactly what Vermont’s public records law is designed to promote. When the government misapplies that law to keep the public in the dark, our state and our democracy suffer.”
The EB-5 program allows foreign entrepreneurs who make specified financial investments in the United States to apply for lawful permanent resident status.
- Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development RC
- Vermont EB5 Regional Center
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
- State of Vermont
- United States of America vs Ariel Quiros & Bill Stenger
- Michael I. Goldberg vs Ariel Quiros
- MICHAEL I. GOLDBERG vs The AM Wealth Management Group of Raymond James & Ariel Quiros & Joel Burstein
- JAMES B. SHAW, JOHANNES EIJMBERTS, and LORNE MORRIS Individually and On Behalf of All Others Similarly Situated, vs The AM Wealth Management Group of Raymond James & Bill Stenger & Joel Burstein & Ariel Quiros
- ALEXANDRE DACCACHE, on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated vs Ariel Quiros & Bill Stenger & The AM Wealth Management Group of Raymond James & Joel Burstein
- State of Vermont vs Bill Stenger & Ariel Quiros
- UNITED STATES SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION vs Ariel Quiros & Bill Stenger
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