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Deposition: Bollen Wrote Own Budget with Fake Numbers; Rounds Never Reviewed

Yup, it's Joop all day!

The Aberdeen American News does us a public service and posts the deposition of Mike Rounds's EB-5 czar Joop Bollen in the Darley v SDIBI. The deposition spans three days, April 16, April 17, and April 18, 2014.

Where shall we start? Let's look first at Bollen's testimony that he saw himself as a czar, writing his own ticket without any oversight.

On April 17, 2014 (p. 140), Darley attorney Jennifer Elkayam asks Bollen to review an agreement between the Department of Tourism and State Development that indirectly employed him and the South Dakota International Business Institute that Bollen ran on their behalf from the Northern State University campus. That agreement, one of several defining the functions DTSD authorized Bollen to perform, ran from January 1, 2007, to June 30, 2007. Elkayam asks specifically about a budget section on foreign direct investment activities, which would include Bollen's EB-5 visa investment activities:

Clip from DTSD-SDIBI agreement, Jan–Jun 2007
(my annotations in green indicate budget sources)

Elkayam asks Bollen to explain what "Mr. Bollen will devote 80% of his time on this project" means. Mr. Bollen says it means nothing:

This was -- I don't think anybody ever reviewed any of these documents. They were prepared by me, but I never ever received any feedback on whether it's okay. It just was pretty much an automatic approval that we would get for these projects. So I do not recall exactly how my time was devoted, but you can connect it somewhat to the travel below [Joop Bollen, deposition 2, Darley v. SDIBI, 2014.04.17, pp. 140–141].

Elkayam asks if the agreement meant Bollen spent 80% of the time the state was paying him for operating and managing the EB-5 regional center. Bollen says no:

You know, this number is just a very rough estimate. Most of the export promotion projects I already had situated such that my time wasn't as much needed anymore. So these projects were all ongoing on the export promotion side, so even though I might have been temporarily putting a little bit more time on the foreign direct investment, the export promotion projects were still going full force, but my involvement was not as much anymore because my assistants were able to handle and I would just do major supervision of the other projects [Bollen, 2014.04.17, p. 141].

The Rounds Administration was paying Bollen $32,800 to spend the first six months of 2007 working on EB-5 investment and other fishing trips for foreign capital. Bollen did not spend 80% of his time on such work. He passed the work to assistants while he focused on "major supervision," which sounds like a euphemism for feet on the desk.

Fake budgets with meaningless numbers, automatically approved—I guess that's what we can expect from Mike Rounds.

One Comment

  1. Donald Pay 2014.10.17

    This is not a fake budget. This is what passes for a real budget in South Dakota, and it is the sort of thing that does get reviewed by someone in the administration.

    The numbers on the budget for Bollen's salary are half of what the formula says they should be. If Bollen was actually paid a total of $62.8 million, which is what he should have been paid according to the formula, someone reviewed this document or in some way corrected the numbers. Who would that have been?

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