Everything comes around....
In an October 10 blog post, Bob Mercer reported that the relationship between South Dakota's EB-5 czar Joop Bollen and Hanul Professional Law Corporation attorney James Park began in a Korean prison:
According to Park’s testimony, Park met Bollen during a failed attempt by Bollen to recruit in South Korea. Park said he helped get a NSU faculty member (who isn’t named) and a friend of the faculty member out of prison for a violation during their recruiting trip to South Korea. That led to Park and the Hanul firm becoming the prime recruiter worldwide for Bollen, except in China [Bob Mercer, "What Could the Rounds Campaign Have Done?" Pure Pierre Politics, 2014.10.10].
Evidently Bollen almost sank South Dakota's EB-5 program on his very first EB-5 recruiting effort in 2004. In his April 29, 2014, testimony in the Darley v. SDIBI arbitration, Park said his law firm's relationship with the South Dakota International Business Institute, which Bollen ran on the NSU campus, began in 2004:
...when SDIBI first came up with EB-5 projects, they were working with a Korean professor in Northern State, and Korean professor told Joop Bollen that "Prime market for this is Korea. So let me set up a seminar in Korea" [James Park, testimony, Darley v. SDIBI JAMS arbitration hearing, Los Angeles, CA, 2014.04.29].
(Yeah, sure, who needs market research when a prof down the hall says, "Hey! Let's go to Korea!"?)
So they set up a seminar and made advertisements in newspaper, which is illegal. So I contacted Mr. Bollen and said, "I'm a U.S. lawyer. I'm an immigration lawyer with a Korean law firm. We are interested in pursuing EB-5 business, and we understand you are having a seminar in Korea. The format you are going by could be problematic. So if you need help, let us help you" [Park, 2014.04.29].
Maybe Bollen should have paid more attention to Park's first contact. Park volunteers this story of what happened when Bollen, prof, and friend touched down in Seoul:
...Joop came to Korea with the professor and his Korean partner from the U.S. for a seminar, and lo and behold, as I warned him, the police came and arrested those two gentlemen for illegal seminar because they charged for the seminar.
So I was at the scene, and we talked to Joop, and our firm got those two gentlemen out of the prison, and that gave us a good relationship with Joop [Park, 2014.04.29].
From that meeting sprang a beautiful relationship, which Park says by 2007 included trips to Cambodia, Taiwan, India, Vietnam, and the Philippines. Their relationship was so cozy that Park and Bollen felt they could conduct transactions worth millions of dollars without writing anything down. (Remember, Park and Bollen are the honyockers who Californian financier David Kang says had Northern Beef Packers' finances in total disarray in mid-2009.) Park says SDIBI and Hanul never had a formal, written contract.
Park thought this wink-and-nod coziness ought to govern relationship for everyone working with state agency SDIBI. He made the following statements to Darley boss Robert Stratmore in an October 4, 2007, e-mail read into the arbitration record:
As I mentioned in my email, Hanul does not have an exclusive agreement signed between Hanul and SDIBI. This is because SDIBI (South Dakota) SDIBI and Hanul felt that substance over form was important. WE wanted to start the work and secure our place by our performance. Furthermore, State government granting any sort of exclusivity is a major endeavor as you may know. Rather than to spend time on formalizing everything, we've decided to use the time on creating results...[Park to Stratmore, 2007.10.04].
If that swishy language (formailize our multi-million-dollar transaction? Pish posh!) doesn't set off your business and legal alarms, well, hey, I have a beef plant in Aberdeen I'd like to sell you.
Hanul is confident that the working relationship with Hanul and SDIBI is sufficient for Darley to take on the marketing efforts that it intends to. Therefore, our agreement would be one of practicality rather than absolute legal right. That is the best that we can offer at this time. We have had no reason to seek cumbersome, and may be impossible, expressed exclusivity from SD attorneys. I hope you can reason our rationale in this regard [Park to Stratmore, 2007.10.04].
Park and Bollen thought the state's lawyers were so darned cumbersome that they didn't even seek the state's authorization to deal with the Darley litigation. During the arbitration hearing, Darley attorney Maxwell M. Blecher asked Park about a hearing involving Darley and SDIBI in December 2008:
[Blecher] Have you ever been appointed as counsel, legal counsel, for any South Dakota entity?
...[Blecher]: ...isn't it true that Hanul Professional Law Corporation... acted as the legal representative for SDIBI during that mediation session?
[Blecher]: ...Was Hanul Professional Law Corporation—to your knowledge, has Hanul Professional Law Corporation ever been appointed as legal counsel for SDIBI?
[Park]: Let me rephrase my answer to be more clear—
[Park]: —if I may. Hanul was never appointed by SDIBI to be SDIBI counsel.
[Park]: Hanul was asked to assist in certain legal activities to prepare for the mediation.
[Park]: If that is representation, then yes; but if that's not, that's what it is.
[Blecher, keenly attentive to slippery passive voice]: Okay. Who asked for Hanul's assistance?
[Park]: It was a discussion between Mr. Bollen and I about the Darley arbitration that was filed at the mediation and how we are going to respond to it. So there was discussion back and forth, and I think I suggested to Mr. Bollen that you can appear as pro per, meaning as your own self, and I offered to assist him with the preparation of materials for that, if necessary.
[Blecher]: But you never—you never did talk to any representative of the Board of Regents in connection with appearing for SDIBI at that mediation, correct?
[Park]: No, we did not [Darley v. SDIBI, JAMS hearing, 2014.04.29].
Park seems to get his dates mixed up: Bollen submitted his illegal pro per pleading in August 2008, well before the December 2008 hearing to which Blecher refers.
Whenever Park advised Bollen, we can clearly see that Bollen and Park winged South Dakota's EB-5 program on a handshake, then graduated to conspiring to conceal a lawsuit and engage in unauthorized legal representation of the state of South Dakota, which South Dakota Codified Law and the State Bar of California, under which Park practices, agree is naughty.
Yet Bollen kept drawing a state paycheck through 2009 and lived fat on a state contract doing the same job for almost four years after that.
The Bollen–Park relationship that drove South Dakota's EB-5 program in its early years began in a Korean jail. Perhaps the South Dakota EB-5 story will end with a similar cozy image of Bollen and Park themselves in jail.