Governor Murphy’s N.J. Tax Incentive Task Force Makes First Criminal Referral  

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Governor Murphys N.J. Tax Incentive Task Force Makes First Criminal Referral
April 12, 2019 — TRENTON — The Task Force charged by Governor Phil Murphy with investigating billions of dollars in economic incentives approved by the NJ Economic Development Authority over the past two decades has made its first referral to criminal enforcement authorities.

The Task Force, chaired by Professor Ronald Chen, has been investigating, among other topics, the process through which the Economic Opportunity Act of 2013 and its implementing regulations came into final form. To date, the investigation has uncovered evidence of unregistered lobbying on behalf of special interests, which materially affected the legislation and regulations governing New Jersey’s tax incentives granted to businesses. Special Counsel for the Task Force, Jim Walden, outlined the evidence of these potential criminal violations in a referral letter, which was sent yesterday with Chairman Chen’s permission.

The Task Force has also obtained robust cooperation from many beneficiaries of tax-incentive programs. One company, which admitted it was not in compliance with program requirements, agreed to repay their grant and terminate remaining payments, saving New Jersey taxpayers $1.5 million.

“As we have said, we are going to follow the facts in a search for the truth,” said Chairman Chen. “Whether that means recertifying companies, seeking voluntary payments and terminations, or making referrals, we plan to be thorough, objective and efficient.”

Special Counsel Jim Walden added, “We are grateful to the many companies who promised cooperation from day one, and we encourage more to come forward. But we will also be diligent in ferreting out wrong-doing where we must, including by making referrals to other civil or criminal investigators when we find sufficient evidence.”

The Task Force’s next hearing will be on May 2, 2019, at 10:00 am in Newark, New Jersey, at a location to be announced.

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