Saturday, April 16, 2016

Memo To SD Attorney General Jackley: Can We Get An EB-5 Cash Flow Chart Like The One Below?

Following The EB-5 Money In Vermont
VT's AG Sorrell 

(photo from

     This pic just turned up on Cory Heidelberger's excellent blog Dakota Free Press, and like Cory, I'm green with Vermont-envy just now.  Turns out that Vermont's legal appartus has moved itself into position to deal with alleged fraud in that state's handling of its "cash for green cards" program known as EB-5. Though the State of Vermont is still pursuing this as a civil case by filing lawsuits against some developers involved in the scheme,  the state's Attorney General William Sorrell likened the venture to a "bank robbery."  Criminal charges could still be filed according to news sources there, by both the state and the U.S. Attorney. Vermont's position is that it is obligated to make sure that state securities laws weren't violated and that foreign investors, who claim losses by fraud amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars, have their interests protected.
     I can only wish that South Dakota would approach our own EB-5 fiasco with similar zeal and determination.   Our situation doesn't exactly parallel Vermont's.  For one thing, our criminal justice system has stepped in.  A couple of weeks ago SD Attorney General Jackley filed criminal charges against South Dakotan Joop Bollen, whose tenure as the private operator managing the state's EB-5 program has seen the state lose more than $100 million according to the non-partisan Center for Immigration Studies.  
     The matter of whether Bollen was the only principal involved in this mess is still a question that has to be answered.  The 2014 suicide of his associate (and former state official) Richard Benda only adds to the natural curiosity--some would say suspicion--about the web of conspirators/accomplices/unknowing dupes that were caught up in Bollen's scheme . . . and this is where my "Vermont-envy" kicks in.  If you read my link to you'll come away mightily impressed by the investigative effort put into this endeavor by VT state officials, most notably Attorney General Sorrell.  Sorrell's flow chart pictured above no doubt creates a "follow the money" trail that makes the connections clear and compelling.  Up to now what has been most lacking in South Dakota's investigation--if there indeed has been a comprehensive investigation--is some graphic rendering of how and where the money moved around, along with some table organized along the lines of which public officials and private individuals were involved in (or indifferent to) the transfer of a good deal for the state to the private hands of Bollen.  A timeline would also be nice. 
     Here's hoping Attorney General Jackley and other South Dakota investigators can provide us with a complete picture.  I want to see the faces that show up on it.   

Addendum added @1652 on 4/17:  Commenter David Newquist provided this link to a news story about some comments regarding the EB-5 program made by Vermont Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy in connection with legislation amending the program that he's supporting in Congress.  If his remarks on the Senate floor call attention to South Dakota's fiasco, the reaction from our congressional delegation will be worth noting here.