- Associated Press - Thursday, June 30, 2016

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - Vermont financial regulators said Thursday they have reached a $5.95 million settlement with a financial firm related to the fraud investigation of real estate developments at two northern Vermont ski resorts.

The Department of Financial Regulation said it found Raymond James and Associates’ Miami branch failed to comply numerous times with supervisory requirements and Vermont law.

The department specifically cited Miami businessman Ariel Quiros, owner of Burke Mountain and Jay Peak ski resorts, and Bill Stenger, Jay Peak’s president, and their use of accounts at Raymond James to transfer funds among investors, limited partnerships and other entities.

Quiros and Stenger are accused by Vermont and the Securities and Exchange Commission of misusing about $200 million from foreign investors through a special visa program. The EB-5 program allows permanent U.S. residency for those who finance projects that create a certain amount of jobs.

Both men have said they’ll be cleared of any wrongdoing.

Raymond James said in a statement it was pleased a settlement has been reached.

The department said that under the settlement agreement, $4.5 million will go to the federal receiver overseeing the resorts and projects to reimburse possible claims by investors. Another $1.25 million will go to Vermont’s general fund as an administrative penalty and $200,000 will be paid to state financial regulation for the investigation, the department said.

“Since the SEC’s seizure of the Jay Peak-related EB-5 projects, investors have been rightly concerned about possible recovery of funds. This settlement contributes to their restitution,” department commissioner Susan Donegan said.

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