Well this is a fine kettle of tulips. Looks like that devious Dutchman Joop Bollen has split the country. Cory Heidelberger's blog nonpareil, The Madville Times, reports this morning that the shadowy Bollen is cooling his heels in The Philippines. Must've been getting a little cramped up there in his home in Aberdeen, SD, what with all the eyes that know anything about the EB-5 "cash for green cards" scandal focused on Bollen. His sudden flight to his wife's homeland comes as no surprise, the only wonderment being why it took him so long to take this powder. No doubt some heat was generated last week when he was added as a respondent to a federal case initiated by Minnehaha County Commissioner Jeff Barth against Republican Senate Candidate Mike Rounds and others over the bungled Slaughterhouse EB-5 program. That debacle likely cost South Dakota taxpayers $120 million.
That was money that should have gone to the State of South Dakota, which until 2008 had been running the EB-5 program. Hundreds of foreign investors were paying fees in excess of $100 thousand apiece to administrators and facilitators of the program, which simple arithmetic tells you can add up to big time bucks. Bollen, who'd been the state employee operating the program, turned the handling of it over to a private entity in 2008, said private entity being SDRC, inc., and said private entity also being Bollen's own creation. This obvious scam-o-la is apparently being left untouched by South Dakota's Attorney General Marty Jackley, though there is talk that the United States Attorney is looking at it. Meantime, the laughably inept investigators at the South Dakota state legislature wouldn't so much as ask Bollen to respond to written questions, much less subpoena Bollen, when they held a "hearing" on this last week.
Now it turns out, the South Dakota Banking Commission is looking into SDRC, inc. to see if the company evaded certain banking taxes and fees. It isn't clear if the Commission is conducting an investigation or simply seeking information, but banking authorities are definitely involved.
That all of this occurred under the nose of the Mike Rounds administration when he was Governor of South Dakota gives the affair a, ah, shall we say, certain amount of political sensitivity? After all, Rounds is running for the United States Senate. Many of the characters involved in this drama were appointees and associates of Rounds. The Slaughterhouse EB-5 imbroglio was a centerpiece economic development inititative of his own making. Some State of South Dakota checks written to the enterprise bore Rounds' signature. And Joop Bollen? Well, his chumminess with Rounds has been well-documented.