ATLANTA--(BUSINESS WIRE)--This week, Department of Justice lawyers, in their case brought over a year ago on December 18, 2018 against the Atlanta-based real estate company, EcoVest Capital Inc. and others, asked Judge Amy Totenberg of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, to delay setting a trial date for at least another two years.
“EcoVest is appalled to learn that the Department of Justice is seeking to delay a trial for at least another two years,” the company said in a statement. “The Department brought wholly unfounded charges against EcoVest in late 2018, publicly and loudly smearing the company in the process. Since then, the government’s lawyers have refused EcoVest’s calls for a swift and speedy trial. You would think the government would want to go to trial quickly if their case had any merit. The obvious reason they are continuing to delay is that they have brought a baseless case, which the government lawyers know they will lose. Rather than trying the case in Court, the Internal Revenue Service has instead been forced to use the press to try the case.”
“All of EcoVest’s business practices are legal and proper, and we are certain this will be proven at trial. We call on the Department of Justice to end the unjust delays, to give us our day in court, and to let an unbiased trial process allow the facts to speak for themselves.”
EcoVest has repeatedly stated that its real estate offerings are entirely legal, proper, and supported by longstanding Congressional legislation that seeks to promote private sector participation in land conservation. Since the Department of Justice filed its case more than a year ago, the parties have exchanged millions of pages of documents, and third-parties have turned over millions more. The Department now demands a lengthy, costly, and burdensome fishing expedition so that it can hunt for evidence that does not exist--something it should have confirmed before ever filing its case.
The Department of Justice originally demanded a twelve-month discovery period, whereas EcoVest insisted on the four-month period provided by the court’s standard rules. In June 2019, Judge Totenberg compromised, granting an eight-month discovery period that was expanded further by an additional five months, while the court considered various motions. The Department of Justice’s extraordinary new demands would set the trial date back years, to mid-2022 and possibly 2023, depending upon how quickly motions for summary judgement are resolved. EcoVest believes that Judge Totenberg’s original schedule is more than reasonable and must be respected.
“If the IRS doesn’t like the law that allows investors to take conservation easements instead of developing land, it should use any of the many avenues available to it to get the law changed, instead of using unjust enforcement actions as a means of chilling legitimate business activity.”
"Rather than admit that it cannot prove its unfounded allegations, the Government seeks to deny EcoVest justice by delaying resolution of the case for years."
EcoVest Capital's core mission is to sponsor, underwrite, and manage real estate investments that balance economic, environmental, and social gains through the preservation of natural resources and promotion of sustainable business practices. EcoVest has originated a diversified portfolio of real estate investment and development opportunities across many different asset types and sectors throughout the United States. Some of these programs permit investors to choose whether to develop property in accordance with comprehensive development plans, hold for appreciation, or preserve the property via a conservation easement, which not only protects such property in perpetuity but also provides the potential for limited development.