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Bollen, Benda Saw Keystone XL as EB-5 Money Pipeline

The GOED/EB-5/Benda scandal has connections to Northern Beef Packers, mega-dairies, Hutterites, Hyperion, the Philippines, and Mike Rounds. Now we add Keystone XL.

Jonathan Ellis fills our Easter baskets with the revelation that Rounds pals Joop Bollen and Richard Benda were scheming to connect their money-making EB-5 visa program to TransCanada's tar sands oil pipeline:

Joop Bollen, SDRC’s founder, applied to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services — which administers the federal EB-5 program — for permission to add TransCanada as a qualifying business under the program, which enables wealthy foreigners to get green cards for investing as little as $500,000 in qualifying projects.

Besides trying to help Trans-Canada, the same application asked to dramatically expand SDRC’s geographic area of coverage. Bollen sought federal permission to expand SDRC to Montana and Nebraska in a bid to provide financing to the Keystone XL pipeline from the Canadian border to Nebraska’s southern border. SDRC’s contract with South Dakota to run the EB-5 program was supposed to be “for the benefit of South Dakota,” according to the contract’s language [Jonathan Ellis, "Documents Link State-Sponsored Company, Keystone XL," that Sioux Falls paper, 2014.04.19].

Bollen applied to include Keystone XL in May 2011. Governor Dennis Daugaard knew nothing about it... which is what we would expect when Mike Rounds let his pals take the EB-5 program private and hide their work from public oversight.

The EB-5–Keystone XL connection makes perfect sense. Recruit Chinese investors to pour money into a pipeline that will bring North American oil to their homeland. Send a 10% commission to Bollen, Benda, and other friends of Rounds and Daugaard, who cheerlead the pipeline and do nothing to block TransCanada's eminent-domain predations on South Dakota landowners.

Ellis reports the cost of Keystone XL in South Dakota alone may be $920 million. That would have allowed Bollen and Benda to recruit up to 1,840 EB-5 investors at $500,000 a pop. Recruiting investors for a huge industrial project that's received oodles of global press and is guaranteed to make money would have been much easier than selling the merits of some local beef plant or a Deadwood casino that no one outside South Dakota has ever heard of. And those investors would have paid Bollen, Benda, and SDRC's lawyers $45,000 each, for a possible take of $82.8 million.

TransCanada, to their credit, said no thanks. As with Hyperion, Bollen and Benda just couldn't strike oil with their visa investment scheme. But the EB-5 story keeps on growing. Stay tuned.


  1. Lanny V Stricherz 2014.04.20

    My comment in posting this story on Facebook this morning: The gift that just keeps on giving.

    My two posts on the Argus Leader Story.

    Any information that they did the same with the original Keystone Pipeline? And why would the State pursue the second one, when the first one came no where close to keeping its promises of property tax rebates to the school districts involved with that first pipeline?

    Lanny Stricherz ·
    "Bollen did not respond to an email seeking an interview. He repeatedly has refused to speak to the media since SDRC’s travails became public last fall."

    That is what makes it such a travesty of justice that the legislature ignored the legislator from Big Stone Ciy, Kathy Tyler's request that the legislature open an investigation of EB-5 and that when they did finally have that couple day pseudo investigation at the end of the session, they did not subpoena Mr Bollen to testify to all that he knew of the failed NBP and related EB=5 entities.

  2. Sam 2 2014.04.20

    Mike Rounds and his buddies make Bosworth look like sweaty Betty in the Church Choir

  3. Tim 2014.04.20

    Anybody who doesn't think Rounds, and to a lesser extent Daugaard, didn't know anything about this, and that the republican controlled legislature isn't trying to make it go away now, is a fool. I find it hard to believe voters here are not screaming for heads to roll in all of this. Republican voters get what they vote for, to bad they get to take the rest of us along for the ride.

  4. mike from iowa 2014.04.20

    Bollen ran off with records that don't belong to him,the AG didn't order(as far as I know) him not to destroy those records,hasn't been subpoenaed by anyone(AFAIK) and tens of millions of dollars rode off into the sunset of their own volition. Sounds like a really bad episode of Dallas w/o JR and the rest of the Ewings.

  5. Bree S. 2014.04.20

    Yeah that was a special moment when we found out that NBP was the first time ever in the history of the program that the foreign investors received neither a visa nor their money back. *poof*

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