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Dakota Turkey Growers Pay Off Shady EB-5 Loan They Never Needed

"We're debt-free!" shouts Dakota Turkey Growers. According to a press release processed by the Huron Plainsman today, the Huron turkey plant has paid off the loan it received in 2009. That loan was $55 million dollars from 110 foreign investors seeking EB-5 visas.

Dakota Turkey Growers eagerly celebrates the EB-5 program:

According to Dakota Turkey Growers officials, the Federal EB-5 Program was instrumental in helping it grow a profitable business, which currently provides direct jobs to over 800 workers in Huron.

The officials went on to say that the availability of EB-5 funds was pivotal in Dakota Turkey Growers’ operations and success and that former Governor Mike Rounds was also very supportive of and assisted in the start-up of Dakota Turkey Growers [staff report, "Dakota Turkey Growers Fulfills Federal EB-5 Obligation in Full," Huron Plainsman, 2014.10.31].

Worth noting: Jeff Sveen, who has served as chairman of the board and corporate agent for Dakota Turkey Growers, has contributed $3,000 to the Rounds for Senate campaign. Brenda Rutledge, who I'm going to take a wild guess and say is the wife of Dakota Provisions (corporate names are fluid here) CEO Kenneth Rutledge, has given Rounds for Senate another $1,000.

Remember that EB-5 money is supposed to create jobs. We learned last fall that this big EB-5 loan did no such thing; it simply replaced debt that Dakota Provisions had already used to build and start its Huron turkey plant.

South Dakota's EB-5 impresario Joop Bollen was working on this EB-5 deal for Jeff Sveen and his turkey plant friends in 2008. In a February 6, 2008, e-mail to Chinese EB-5 recruiter Linda He, Bollen explained why Dakota Provisions was a guaranteed win for EB-5 applicants:

The most important issue, I believe, is that this project is already in operation and therefore all the start-up cost and risks are gone [Joop Bollen, e-mail to Linda He, 2008.02.06].

Hold on there—EB-5 recruiters aren't supposed to guarantee returns. EB-5 investments are supposed to be at risk.

Yet Bollen affirms that EB-5 investors can't lose money, because the Hutterite owners have tons of money to protect the project:

Frank [Lin, EB-5 recruiter] also might have explained that the turkey plant is owned by 40 plus Hutterite colonies which have very deep pockets and would never let this plant go as their turkey industry would be in deep trouble if they loose [sic] the plant. The colonies would commit financial suicide for their turkey growers if the plant were lost [Bollen to He, 2008.02.06].

Bollen adds this assertion of solid business performance:

Additionally it is important to realize that the project is currently being financed by US Banks which are very happy with the performance of the project [Bollen to He, 2008.02.06].

Put the Hutterite and bank comments together. Bollen is telling his recruiter that the plant is running fine and that it has a huge capital reserve to draw on to deal with any problems. Bollen is essentially saying that Dakota Provisions was doing just fine and was on course to create jobs without any EB-5 money. Like so much else about the Bollen-Rounds EB-5 program, this claim of solvency, along with the darn-near guarantee, sounds fishy.

And fishmonger Bollen knew he had to be careful with what he said about Dakota Provisions. Consider this response to a question from recruiter He's question about obtaining a third-party guarantee on the investments:

The project already would be collateralized mcuh more than what is demanded by commercial banks and therefore it would be somewhat insulting to request this from the plant, not to mention US immigration law which might frown on the guarantee! As you might recall, the EB-5 monies have to be at risk and a guarantee might raise a serious red flag [Bollen to He, 2008.02.06].

Bollen even says in so many words that they shouldn't spread their plan around in too much detail to U.S. observers:

In fact, I am somewhat concerned that those banks might become quite upset once they their [sic] loans are being replaced with EB-5 monies (We should keep this fact somewhat confidential from a US perspective).... In addition, the State of South Dakota also lent $3,000,000 which they would not have done unless the loan officers felt comfortable [Bollen to He, 2008.02.06].

The money local banks lost in this EB-5 loan replacement also meant revenue lost by the State of South Dakota, since Bollen's EB-5 shadow corporation, SDRC Inc., paid no bank franchise tax on the EB-5 loans it arranged.

So yes, congratulations, Dakota Turkey Growers on exploiting a federal visa investment program you didn't really need, whose conditions for new job creation you didn't really fulfill, and which you are now inflating into fabricated cover for your favored political candidate, Mike Rounds, from the monkeyshines Joop Bollen used to line his pockets and the pockets of Mike Rounds's friends.


  1. Thad Wasson 2014.10.31

    How do you mix a commercial loan, borrowed state money and EB-5 equity money without drawing the attention of at least the I.R.S?

  2. Jana 2014.10.31

    Ah, the beauty of the free market...Wait! What?

    Mike Rounds is thanked for picking the turkey plant as a winner in his GOED money game...hmmm...forget about the free market.

    In South Dakota, the GOP picks the winners and losers.

    Speaking of that. How many small dairy farmers were damaged with the EB-5/Rounds/GOED lottery funds going to out of state large dairy interests?

  3. Roger Cornelius 2014.10.31

    The first thing that comes to mind when I read this, given the way Bollen played banker, recruiter, etc., where did Dakota Provisions get the $55 million to pay off this loan?

  4. Roger Cornelius 2014.10.31

    If Dakota Turkey Growers didn't need the $55 million dollar loan in the first place, why would they accept that much debt?
    What was the loan used for or better yet, who actually got the money?

  5. Francis Schaffer 2014.10.31

    Going to be difficult to verify that 'fact'.

  6. Jana 2014.10.31

    Thad, just guessing you may have some answers to your question.

    Do any of them reference the corruption of the 'wink and nod' from a wide range of state officials?

  7. Roger Cornelius 2014.10.31

    Exactly Francis,
    We would need to the real profit and loss statements for Turkey Growers.

  8. Francis Schaffer 2014.10.31

    Let me know how that works out for you Roger.

  9. jerry 2014.10.31

    Of course, now we have to wait and see if the DOJ can pull their collective heads out of their arses to finally put an end to this corruption. Methinks the criminal enterprise of South Dakota republican politics is not to concerned about it. Where is Joop? Still out of country I presume.

  10. Francis Schaffer 2014.10.31

    What if the USCIS made them pay it back as it created no net jobs? A person could spin it as paying off the loan when in fact it is something else entirely

  11. leslie 2014.10.31

    again and again and again-timing of these actions and press releases right before rounds and daugaard's election. don't think these have been accidents. Regents files would show the calculation involved in the settlement of Joop's lawyer Sveen's, Regent's, NSU's and Jackley's lawyers ( at our expense ) manipulation of this EB5 federal lawsuit settlement via mandatory arbitration. Remember it was considered very winnable early on. they used it as a pre-election vehicle for another $500k of manufactured favorable publicity, as long as it was coming out anyway. Which loans was this arbitration involved with?

    $500,000 of attorney's time buys lotz, lotz of calculation, obstruction, and delay which is illegal infront of a real court, so they likely played the resolution of this lawsuit like a fiddle, knowing when the Judge would rule, when the attorney's fee portion would arrive. they prolly did not anticipate the Judge and opposing counsel would sting them as they have.

  12. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.10.31

    Francis, the EB-5 job creation period is two years. USCIS would already have issued the green cards in 2011, two years after the loan, after SDRC Inc. and/or GOED certified that Dakota Provisions actually created the 10 direct and indirect jobs per $500K investment... in this case, 1,100 direct/indirect jobs. Dakota Provisions says it currently provides over 800 direct jobs. In 2010, Bollen told me the multiplier from direct to total jobs for the Veblen dairy was 2.66, so if a similar number applies to the turkey plant and we round up generously, Dakota Turkey Growers gets credit for maybe 2,400 jobs.

    Now, the magic question (and maybe one that the FBI is trying to slide-rule) is how many of those 2,400 jobs were already there and in the chute from the original bank and state financing, how many were created by the expansion performed with the portion of the EB-5 money that was over and above the debt buyout... and how EB-5 investors really deserved to get green cards based on their Dakota Turkey Growers investment.

    There may lie one core part of the FBI investigation: SDRC Inc., GOED, and Dakota Turkey Growers may have made a false claim about job creation and allowed investors to obtain green cards fraudulently.

  13. Bill Fleming 2014.10.31

    This is maybe as close to the "smoking gun" proof that these guys were basically "auctioning off green cards to the highest bidder" as it gets.

    Here's a hypothesis:

    ALL the "investors" want is the Green Cards, and they want their investment money back when they get here. They don't want to want a company, they want to get themselves and their families out of their country, and be real red-blooded American crony capitalists.

    Joop & Co. see a way to "cut a fat hog" (or in this case, a fat turkey) if they can come as close to those potential immigrants heart's desires as possible:

    A guaranteed, family-sized basket of free green cards at no risk to the family other than what the "investors" will consider "chump change." Price of doin' bidness.

    So, guarantee 'em that the jobs are already there, that the company holding their money for a spell is already up and running and, so, no worries. This whole deal is a piece of cake. Don't even have to lift a finger. Just pony up the vigorish, wait a couple of years, and its a done deal. High five.

    And maybe the auction part works both ways.

    The Joopinator has to offer these guys the least risky deal and hustle up a few buddies to help him with the deals, cut them in on a piece of the action. but in turn, he gets to charge the foreigner "marks" some really hefty fees.

    To the investors its still a lot cheaper and safer than losing the whole half a million and having to go back home broke if the deal goes belly-up.

    Easy money, for Joop, easy risk free green cards for the foreigners.

    Such a deal.

    And all that's left to so is run the rah-rah ads.


    And probably all pretty legal ...give or take. And it all worked like a charm... until it didn't.

    And remember, these are the guys who tell us they want us to "secure the border."

    Yeah, right.

  14. leslie 2014.10.31

    if joop hadn't been caught here, trying to avoid oversight by self defending the state in silence, who do you think was advising him, helping him write pleadings. hmmmm. sveen? hanul ect.?

    if this thing ever gets exposed, rounds is toast, joop is toast, there will be a good book in it, but they, many in the state in the know in the cabal...are laughing at us right now.

  15. Roger Cornelius 2014.10.31

    I read on a Facebook link today that the FBI agent in charge of this investigation is out of the office this week and could possibly start revealing parts of the investigation later next week, after the election.
    Will look for the link.

  16. Francis Schaffer 2014.10.31

    Cory, so if after some EB-5 investment and a project has not produced the requisite number of jobs after 2years it should no longer be promoted as an EB-5 project for further investors/investment??? Are these permanent full time jobs which need to be created? Who does the verification? Any idea what portion of the EB-5 visa program Marion thinks needs to be reviewed?

  17. jerry 2014.10.31

    Ah republicans, law and order from the very top. From South Dakota to Washington, the beat goes on. These boys have never met a Chinese deal they could pass up.

    All these righteous republican lawbreakers, kind of makes a feller get all teary eyed at the though of it all.

  18. Roger Cornelius 2014.10.31

    My comment about the status of the FBI investigation was from legalresurection.blogsport, they quoted an article from the

  19. Roger Cornelius 2014.10.31

    Are Republicans Coke heads or Koch heads?

  20. jerry 2014.10.31

    Roger, I am thinking both. They both deal with a false sense of euphoria until the high wears off and then you have to face the reality of how low you have sunk. Both are something that you would not want to introduce to your parents and both are frauds. Yep, I am gonna say both.

  21. Lynn 2014.10.31

    Wasn't Dakota Provisions suppose to create jobs for South Dakotans? Would it be bad for me to ask how much the state and Huron has had to spend for English language and other additional needs placed on the school system for the immigrants who work at the plant? What about social services? Does that sound bad of me to ask? I'm for immigration but.... Are the taxpayers subsidizing the owner's profits?

  22. leslie 2014.10.31

    get all bollen's, benda's (remaining) emails. e.g. bollen's 2008 email to linda he, ect. before they both quit and Daugaard/Jackley destroyed them in state archives. that is what barth is trying to preserve in federal court.

  23. Brett Kearin 2014.10.31

    Mike Rounds claims he "wasn't involved in the transitional details" of EB-5.

    Yet "Mike Rounds was also very supportive of and assisted in the start-up of Dakota Turkey Growers"

  24. Jana 2014.10.31

    When Mike Rounds shrieks about the President of these United States, Barack Obama, what he really is saying is that he wants to go back to the unchecked regulation of business that tanked the stock market, the economy and the net worth of every man woman and child in the country.

    He must also want to go back to the Bush economy stock market.

    Dow Jones proof.

    Bush = 7,949
    Obama = 17,390

    Maybe it was John Thune supporting the TARP bailout side by side with Obama.

  25. mike from iowa 2014.10.31

    Francis S-
    Job Creation Requirements
    Create or preserve at least 10 full-time jobs for qualifying U.S. workers within two years (or under certain circumstances, within a reasonable time after the two-year period) of the immigrant investor’s admission to the United States as a Conditional Permanent Resident.
    Create or preserve either direct or indirect jobs:
    Direct jobs are actual identifiable jobs for qualified employees located within the commercial enterprise into which the EB-5 investor has directly invested his or her capital.
    Indirect jobs are those jobs shown to have been created collaterally or as a result of capital invested in a commercial enterprise affiliated with a regional center by an EB-5 investor. A foreign investor may only use the indirect job calculation if affiliated with a regional center.

  26. Francis Schaffer 2014.10.31

    Mike, thanks. That would be somewhat difficult to prove in my opinion.

  27. Paul Seamans 2014.10.31

    Has TransCanada endorsed Mike Rounds yet for the EB-5 offer to help build the Keystone XL?

  28. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.10.31

    Francis, you're right, it's very hard to prove. There really is no rigorous mechanism for doing so, either. Consider that you're asking immigration officials to evaluate economic data. Not a good idea. One good reform of EB-5 would be to move program administration into the Department of Labor and hand the jobs analysis to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

    Mike's copy of the EB-5 rules on job creation is very useful. Note that it says nothing about making those jobs last beyond two years. The EB-5 visa holders who invested in the Veblen dairies did not lose their green cards when it went bankrupt.

    Lynn, notice the line in Mike's info about "qualifying U.S. workers." That can include anyone here legally, citizen or not. EB-5 gives no bonus points for hiring South Dakotans in South Dakota or demerits for hiring legal immigrant labor.

    And remember: just slightly more than a third of the jobs we're talking about are actual jobs. The majority are economic fictions, the "indirect" jobs that we assume X amount of economic activity creates.

  29. leslie 2014.10.31

    rounds was heavily lobbying sd voters during weds night's debate to build KXL having the 10% or 100,000 bbl. reservation of space on the pipeline for Bakken light crude, and to save Ag rail shippers, which i believe may all be bogus.

  30. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.10.31

    Leslie, you're right. Did you catch Rick Weiland's brilliant equation of Rounds's KXL jobs numbers and his EB-5 jobs numbers?

  31. leslie 2014.10.31

    cory, i saw somewhere EB5 now has financial people working for IMMIGRATION DEPT. for this reason. takes a less than limited government to provide economic development support for little states like ours that may attempt to rape the system

  32. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.10.31

    Ah, Brett, there's a tricky thing: Dakota Provisions opened its plant in December 2005, about four years before receiving any EB-5 money. Those two statements—"Rounds was not involved in transactional details of EB-5" and "Rounds assisted in the start-up of Dakota Turkey Growers"—can be consistent.

  33. lesliengland 2014.11.01

    jeff barth's heroic federal action to salvage ravaged and destroyed evidence of EB5 fraud and keep the repubs out of senate control is sidelined by law trained journalist Montgomery who in September proclaimed an "important development".

    jfc, he found a boiler-plate paragraph in barth's legal brief had been copied from a law review without citing the author. lawyers do this in practice all day long. big woof. who is Montgomery trying to please?

    barth is taking on rounds, daugaard, jackley, regents, nsu, goed, goac, tidemann et al., their lawyers paid by the state of sd, hanual law firm, joop and sveen and probably others, trying to perpetuate and defend this massive apparent fraud.

  34. mike from iowa 2014.11.01

    What would be easier to prove,imo,is the fact that the EB-5 investments were never really "at risk" therefore should never have been allowed. Bollen freely admits this.

  35. Jim 2014.11.01

    Joop and/or sveen realized that if they cut darley out, and and re-fi sveen's turkey plant with eb-5 money run through The newly formed SDRC, that is 3.3 million in fees right off the top for Joop. Then you have the legal fees, and on going loan monitor fees of about 500k per year for several years - nice little pay day for Joop and sveen. The job numbers submitted to immigration appear to be well over-cooked. Are there criminal penalties for submitting false job numbers? I suspect there probably are.

  36. leslie 2014.11.01

    wonder who selected docs. for release to public to make regents look all tidey/whitey? there is a correspondence file that has to be huge.

  37. Wal 2014.11.01

    does SDRC, Bollen, Sveen, Park or Patel have any ownership in Dakota Provisions? In deposition I believe Bollen says SDRC does take a position. If so do the Hutterites know this? Suspicions are that the Hutterites only know what Sveen spoon feeds them.

  38. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.11.02

    Whoops! Amend my above comment on job multipliers. In a July 31, 2008, letter to Barbara Velarda USCIS, Bollen says the RIMS multiplier for meat-processing plants is 3.49.

  39. leslie 2014.11.03

    1. regents open up files that are like hay and a needle, to look good.

    2. how much did banks lend when joop was in lending business for comparison purposes to how many borrowers?

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