Press "Enter" to skip to content

Rounds Owns EB-5: Came Up with Idea, Interviewed Bollen, Says NSU Counsel

Last updated on 2014.11.11

In responses to reporter Bob Mercer's questions about South Dakota's EB-5 program, Mike Rounds downplayed his involvement in the EB-5-promoting South Dakota International Business Institute and his interaction with SDIBI director Joop Bollen:

[Mercer]: EB-5 began for dairy development in South Dakota in 2003. What was your role in that decision?

[Rounds]: I was aware of the desire to expand the federal program beyond dairy development.... I wasn't involved in the transactional details — but I did agree with the concept to create those jobs and diversify South Dakota's economy.

...[Mercer]: Joop Bollen was in charge of EB-5 and dairy development while he was employed at the South Dakota International Business Institute at Northern State University. How did you come to know him?

[Rounds]: I was aware of Mr. Bollen's early efforts to expand dairy development in South Dakota, and I have always been supportive of dairy development in our state. Direct interaction was limited updates on SDIBI's efforts came by way of staff reports [Bob Mercer, "Rounds Answers Reporter's Questions on EB-5 Scandal," Black Hills Pioneer, 2014.10.02].

Once again, Northern State University counsel John Meyer's sworn testimony in the Darley v. SDIBI arbitration contradicts Rounds's claims. On Day 3 of the Darley arbitration hearing, April 30, 2014, Darley attorney Jennifer Elkayam asked Meyer about several letters of agreement between SDIBI and the Governor's Office of Economic Development from 2005 to 2009. These letters laid out the economic development activities, including EB-5 visa investment recruitment and management, that GOED expected SDIBI to perform.

[Elkayam]: Can you explain, to your understanding or if you know, why GOED would not directly engage in these activities that SDIBI is called upon to perform under these letters of agreement?

[Meyer]: Well, I would say, in terms of the history of that office, these functions would have been performed by personnel employed within Tourism and State Development located in Pierre, but what happened was Joop Bollen was loaned under this cost reimbursement structure to GOED, and that's how SDIBI got involved

MS. ELKAYAM: I'm sorry. You said "loaned"?

THE WITNESS: "Loaned."

MR. [Darley Attorney Max] BLECHER: "Loaned."

MS. ELKAYAM: "Loaned" [transcript, Darley v. SDIBI JAMS arbitration hearing, Los Angeles, CA, 2014.04.30, pp. 484–485].

This loan piqued the interest of the arbitrator, the Honorable Robert A. Baines:

[Baines]: ...Who initiated this loaning process? Is it something that started at GOED and came to SDIBI for help, or was it the other way around where SDIBI proposed to the State Department that it would do these functions for a certain amount of money for the State?

[Meyer]: Judge, I don't know firsthand, but I, in my own mind, know what happened. I believe that idea came from the governor of South Dakota.

[Baines]: Okay.

[Meyer]: And I believe, based on a statement that Joop Bollen mentioned to me once, that he had gone down and interviewed with the governor.

I believe that's where that came from. So it would have emanated from the governor through Tourism and State Development and GOED to Northern --

[Baines]: Uh-huh [Darley v. SDIBI, 2014.04.30, p. 486].

Uh-huh. Mike Rounds says he was "aware" of the things SDIBI did. John Meyer says Mike Rounds had the idea that sent SDIBI down the EB-5 path. Mike Rounds says he was "aware" of Joop Bollen's efforts but interacted only indirectly, through staff reports. John Meyer says Mike Rounds interviewed Joop Bollen personally in Pierre to get the program going.


  1. Bill Fleming 2014.10.23


    So Benda was Joop's boss? Maybe that explains why the Regents didn't fire him. He was loaned out to the Gov's office. Is Rich the reason Rounds kept Joop on the payroll? If so, no wonder Mike would like to 'ask him a few questions.' You snooze, you lose.

  2. Disgusted Dakotan 2014.10.23

    I wonder how long Bob Mercer is going to sit there with egg on his face after Rounds passed on such whoppers to him?

    It defies all credulity that Rounds was not acutely aware of every detail that was occurring in his top cabinet position and with a program that everyone was publicly aware that he was so intimately involved in. His dishonest denials and obfuscation show his true character.

  3. Jim 2014.10.23

    Well, Joop was in the loan business. I wonder if mike had to pay him an annual fee?

  4. Bill Dithmer 2014.10.23

    This makes sense in a crazy kind of way. From the time of Bendas death the public has been led and misled about who was doing what to who.

    I see Richard Benda still testifying in this federal case. I expect an exumation order by the end of next year. Sometimes cremation is just a better choice, I'm betting there are some powerful people with heartburn right now.

    How many times do you have to tell a lie before you start thinking its the truth?
    Mike Rounds, once!

    The Blindman

  5. lesliengland 2014.10.23

    THE HILL 10.23.14 clarifies earlier $1 mill. "benda" loan rounds signed-off on, with $600k loan to NBP 2 weeks before rounds and benda left office. calls pressler 2nd place in polls.

  6. Steve Sibson 2014.10.23

    " calls pressler 2nd place in polls."

    If Republicans decide not to vote for Rounds, they will vote for Pressler or Howie, not Weiland. That is another reason why it is stupid for Democrats to trash conservatives like Howie. And promoting ideas such as South Dakotans hate women. If most of the changed votes goes to Howie, Weiland might win. Which means the same big government agenda that produced EB-5 will continue. Problems not solved.

  7. larry kurtz 2014.10.23

    Kent: "For anyone who might have been lost in Siberia for the last year and three days, it’s the “Green Card Gate” issue that began with the suspicious death of a man about to be investigated for his role in a questionable immigrant investor program, the movement of a half-million Three Card Monty dollars under shells marked Future Fund, Northern Beef and SDRC, Inc., and the historically classic question for all political blunders: “Who knew what and when did they know it?” In this case the “who” being former South Dakota Governor and now U.S. Senate hopeful Mike Rounds."

  8. jerry 2014.10.23

    How things work here. Rounds and Daugaard are in this thing deep from the get go, they cooked up the scheme. A salesman and a banker with a law degree, how sweet is that. In a right wing state controlled system like South Dakota, they know full well that as long as they made the payoffs, all was well. All they need is the hook and the delivery system. They found that right in there cadre. Bollen was trusted because he was basically a foreigner and a Dutch one at that. Check out the historical dealings of the way Amsterdam did business around the world historically and at present. The very first market crash, centuries ago, initiated in agriculture, in fact, Tulips. Benda was small taters but Benda wanted more moolah or he was going public. Rounds gave him a taxpayer funded check for a million to make it all go away and then made the call. Benda cashed the check and thinks he just may have just hit the lottery. Funny how things work though, a familiar place is chosen for a meeting and then only one leaves the shelter belt. Who can blame Benda's family for shutting up? They are afraid of these criminals and for good reason. Someone prove me wrong.

  9. Roger Cornelius 2014.10.23

    Sibson, South Dakotans don't hate women, South Dakota Republicans hate women.

  10. Roger Cornelius 2014.10.23

    Sibson gets it wrong again, Democrats aren't and don't have to attack Howie, Republicans like Pat Powers are doing it best.

  11. Steve Sibson 2014.10.23

    Conservatives are attacked on this blog very frequently Roger.

  12. Roger Cornelius 2014.10.23

    Sibson, yes they are, what part of this is a liberal blog do you not understand?
    I'd submit that Pat Powers (who has now banned me) over on the Dump Site has attacked Howie and other tea party types more frequently than here on Madville.

  13. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.10.23

    The point here is that Rounds has lied to us again. Steve, I don't attack that lie because it is made by a conservative. The lie itself has no conservative component. I attack it because it is a lie, and because the person telling cannot be trusted to be our Senator.

Comments are closed.