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According to Oregon Public Broadcasting, Ecotrust, a nonprofit developer based in Portland, recently settled a $4.4 million lawsuit for overcharging the state on two separate projects. A two-year investigation by the state's Department of Justice found the organization had submitted a tax credit application that improperly inflated and overstated the budgets. The organization also failed to disclose intended use of funds relating to the state’s New Markets Tax Credit program.

In Ecotrust’s application materials submitted to the NMTC program, it reported expenditures of $8 million to reopen the Rough & Ready sawmill in the Southern Oregon town of Cave Junction and an additional $7.5 million to complete the Desolation Creek forestland purchase.

The DOJ found the Rough & Ready project was inflated by $4 million and the Desolation Creek forest property was inflated by $900,000 causing the state to be overcharged by approximately $1.5 million and $350,000, respectively, in tax credits for the two projects. The investigation was opened following an report by The Oregonian/OregonLive on the financial dealings of Ecotrust and Rough & Ready.Under the no-fault settlement terms, Ecotrust and Ecotrust Forest Management will make a payment of $4.4 million to the state.

In an emailed statement Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said Oregon’s New Market Tax Credit program was meant to rehabilitate job opportunities in economically stressed communities and bring economic incentives to parts of the state that could use an economic boost.

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