A state grand jury is investigating New Jersey’s tax-break programs for businesses, raising the stakes of an already heated debate in Trenton over economic development incentives.
The grand jury last week issued a subpoena to the state Economic Development Authority, which oversees the multibillion dollar incentives programs, a person familiar with the matter, who was not authorized to discuss it and requested anonymity, confirmed Sunday.
News of the subpoena was first reported by Politico.
Gov. Phil Murphy appointed a task force to investigate the tax credit programs in January, after a state audit found “significant” problems with oversight at the agency, including the EDA’s ability to verify whether jobs were created in return for the tax breaks.
In response to that same audit, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced in January that his office was launching an inquiry into the tax incentive programs, “to figure out what exactly happened and whether any laws were broken.”
At the time, Grewal called the report’s finding “deeply troubling” and said the audit raised the possibility that the EDA “may have failed to identify material misrepresentations” when companies applied for tax breaks.
The attorney general’s office on Sunday said, “It is our policy to neither confirm nor deny investigations.”
The scope of the criminal investigation wasn’t clear Sunday, except that information sought by the grand jury in the subpoena to the EDA largely tracked information that the task force has been gathering, the person said.
The task force has held a series of public hearings examining information submitted by tax-credit recipients, among them businesses that planned to relocate to Camden.
A spokesperson for the EDA didn’t respond to a request for comment Sunday.