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Several clients have lately been asking about notices they've received that look like this. If they come from the Eastern District court in New York, they’re legitimate, and if you are a merchant who accepted Visa or MasterCard or both between January 1, 2004 and November 28, 2012, you are a probably a member of the class and should have received one too. If you didn't, the lawsuit and proposed settlement are discussed in detail here. Take a look; the settlement could affect your legal rights.  You have until May 28, 2013 to exclude yourself from the settlement (opt-out) or object to its terms; the final hearing on the proposed settlement will be September 12, 2013. Assuming the court approves the settlement, with or without changes that may occur as the result of objections, claim forms will be issued after that date to class members and a claim deadline will be set.

As a follow up to his excellent presentations at the recent hospitality forums hosted by Garvey Schubert Barer’s Hospitality, Travel & Tourism Practice Group, Gregg Rodgers offered to prepare today’s post on the often discussed, but horribly misunderstood, EB-5 program. Gregg chairs GSB’s Immigration Practice Group and is an important member of, and regular contributor to, our Hospitality, Travel & Tourism Practice Group. Gregg has represented those investing funds into their own projects as individuals and into Regional Centers, and he has worked with many potential EB-5 project sponsors (those using investor's funds to finance projects), including new hotel development projects in the Northwest, as they have evaluated their options.  Today’s post provides a great overview of the EB-5 program and its general requirements. 

Thank you Gregg . . . 

You may have heard about an influx of foreign investors into the “EB-5” program and wondered – what are they talking about and how can I get my project jump-started with it?

EB-5 is a short-hand reference to the “Employment-Based", 5th-listed process for getting status as a lawful permanent resident, also known as a “green card.” It was created in the early 1990’s, but only came into its own beginning in 2008, when the great recession dried up local funding for major projects. It was then that many creative developers and others realized that making changes to their business model could open up an untapped source of investment, resulting in the creation of a longer-term relationship between developers and investors, and a potential return for investors that included not just increased wealth, but a new life in the United States. “Regional Centers” have become the focal point of EB-5 investment over the past few years.

After some delay, the new federal regulations giving gift card holders greater protections took effect recently, adding to a patchwork of state consumer laws already in place. The new regulations apply to both issuers and sellers of store gift cards, gift certificates, and general use prepaid cards, such as prepaid Visas or Mastercards, sold after August 22, 2010. We’ve seen our clients consider conflicts between state and federal law, advertising policies for resellers, tax recognition on gift card income, and unclaimed property laws.

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Greg Duff
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Greg Duff founded and chairs Foster Garvey’s national Hospitality, Travel & Tourism group. His practice largely focuses on operations-oriented matters faced by hospitality industry members, including sales and marketing, distribution and e-commerce, procurement and technology. Greg also serves as counsel and legal advisor to many of the hospitality industry’s associations and trade groups, including AH&LA, HFTP and HSMAI.

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