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Bollen: Sure, I’ll Answer Your Questions, If You Pay for My Lawyer

Joop Bollen, director, SDRC Inc.
You shall pay for your questions, little man.

While Pat Powers shouts with capital letters to distract us from his embarrasing silence on the GOED/SDRC/EB-5/Benda/Rounds investigations, I'm reading various documents relating to the case. Among them is a perhaps trivial remark that speaks volumes about the attitude of the man the Governor's Office of Economic Development authorized to run its EB-5 visa investor program, Joop Bollen.

On June 23 and June 24, 2012, Mr. Bollen received formal requests, written and electronic, from an attorney investigating the SDRC's involvement in Northern Beef Packers in Aberdeen and the Dakota Provisions turkey plant in Huron. The attorney asked, "What steps are being taken to ensure that the described turkey plants have created the minimum number of jobs prescribed on attached USCIS memorandum HQSCOPS 7A16.1.2-C?" The attorney also asked for "a listing of entities and amounts of EB-5 funds distributed to South Dakota entities from 2000 to present" and "a list of pending EB-5 applications involving South Dakota entities."

Ten days went by. No response from Bollen. (Actually, it was eleven days, but one of those days was July 4, so we'll cut everyone some slack.) On July 5, the attorney pinged Bollen with an e-mail asking if he intended to respond and if he had legal counsel.

On July 5, 2012, at 4:37 p.m., Bollen responded thus:

If you please could forward the necessary funds for my legal counsel I will certainly obtain it [Joop Bollen, e-mail, 2012.07.05].

Asked questions about how his state-authorized agency operates, Bollen doesn't just stonewall; he tells the questioners to pay for his lawyer.

You'd think the guy's middle name was Hubris, not Hubertus.


  1. Jenny 2013.11.05

    These pics you find crack me up, Cory!

  2. owen reitzel 2013.11.05

    The silence from the DWC is deafening and Bollen looks scary

  3. Jim 2013.11.05

    What a colossal embarrassment. Best case scenario for smiling mike is that he will look like an idiot. Appears that is what he is posturing for. I can't believe Bollen was entrusted with all that money without more oversight.

  4. Jenny 2013.11.05

    I read somewhere Cory, that this Joop guy has a portfolio worth 150 million dollars. I can get the link for you if you haven't come across it.

  5. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.11.05

    Right. That $150 million is the money he's managed in the EB-5 program. How much of that money has gone into his pocket is perhaps a question the feds are trying to answer.

    Bollen does have enough money to collect and donate Egyptian antiquities, no poor man's hobby. I also hear that he had a lot of rental holdings around Aberdeen but cashed them out in time to miss what appears to be a current rental recession in Aberdeen.

  6. Nick Nemec 2013.11.05

    That rental recession is caused by the failure of the NBP plant at the heart of the investigation. When did Joop sell his rental properties, did he have inside information not available to the general public that NBP was going belly up? Did he get going while the going was good and everyone else was left holding the bag?

  7. wal 2013.11.05

    In 2009 Dakota Turkey Providers secured a 49.5 M loan from and thru EB5. Those funds came from foreign investors thru the EB5 program. (Joop, Benda and Jeff Sveen the arranger) This investment was done utilizing the SDRC which has now lost its contract with the Governors office.

    This was a loan at 2.6% interest paid annually. 2 assets were posted. The DP plant and also Dakota Gobblers a company owned by one of the Hutterite Colony's.

    This loan is due Oct 2014, and the question I have is how has this been handled? More importantly all payments would have been paid to SDRC and did the people that made the loan actually get paid? Have there been a partial release of the assets posted back to DP and Gobblers?

    Last is how will this be paid out if the company SDRC does not have the contract anymore?

  8. Jerry 2013.11.05

    wal, that is pretty incredible news. If the loan is due in a year's time, we should know the status of that loan as we South Dakota taxpayers are on the hook for that too. This republican bunch of knuckleheads could not manage a paper route in Murdo. I wonder what Nelson and the other Rounds guy are saying about all of these shady deals?

  9. wal 2013.11.05

    paper route might be too complicated......I am curious what the state is doing to pick up where SDRC left off? Or is there anything to pick up? What a mess. How can a program that is 23 yrs old be soooooooo screwed up.

  10. Bree S. 2013.11.05

    Cory, I talked to someone, and they told me that Benda violated federal regulations when he funneled eb5 money through shadow corporations. Apparently its a federal requirement that eb5 money must be given directly to a project. After 5 years the money is then considered a loan. By funneling the money through a corporation he circumvented that waiting period, but also violated federal law.

  11. Douglas Wiken 2013.11.05

    Just follow the screwers and the screwees.

  12. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.11.07

    That, Bree, is a key point. Can we document that issue from this end? Is that EB-5 regulation written down somewhere we could link to?

    But that almost seems too obvious. Benda and Bollen are smart financiers. If running the money through a loan fund is that blatantly illegal, wouldn't they have seen that and done a workaround?

  13. Bree S. 2013.11.07

    I don't personally know hardly anything about eb5. But the impression I was given was that it was a matter of federal statute. The info could be lost in regulation books somewhere though for all I know. The person I spoke to is an expert on agricultural banking/finance regulations and has dealt with eb5 paperwork in the past. He's a trove of information but he didn't get into fine details with me. I will call him back and ask him for more detail and where I could find documentation.

    He told me you couldn't get through the eb5 paperwork without knowing the money had to be directly given to the project. But he said Benda couldn't convince the investors to invest because the money wouldn't be "considered a loan" right off the bat and the project was so risky. Benda had to make the money a "loan" in order to convince them, so that's why the shadow corporation.

    I think they were just arrogant and didn't think anyone would ever check the paperwork.

    Considering all the stuff you guys are digging up, I can't imagine that's the only possible violation under investigation though.

  14. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.11.07

    I don't know, Bree: that violation by itself could be enough. I would love to hear more from your expert friend, with direction to specific clauses in the EB-5 regulations. Thank you for checking!

  15. Bree S. 2013.11.07

    Well that's interesting. Montgomery's expert says my expert is wrong. lol. I wonder if I misunderstood something?

Comments are closed.