Here's one more example of the corruption that took place in Rounds's EB-5 visa investment program while he was governor: his EB-5 czar lied to U.S. Customs and Immigration Officials.
On December 20, 2009, Rounds's handpicked EB-5 director, Joop Bollen, wrote a letter to Barbara Q. Velarde, a USCIS official in charge of EB-5 matters. Bollen was responding to a request from Velarde dated December 1, 2009, seeking verification that South Dakota's EB-5 program was complying with federal statute.
In the December 20 letter, Bollen gives USCIS notice of the curious revolving door through which he's about to walk:
Recall the timeline: the next day, December 21, Bollen would quit his state job as director of the South Dakota International Business Institute and walk off the Northern State University campus with five boxes of state property. The day after that, December 22, the Governor's Office of Economic Development would issue Bollen a no-bid contract to do as a private corporation (SDRC Inc.) the same EB-5 work he'd done as a state employee.
So on December 20, 2009, Bollen tells USCIS, "Mr. Joop Bollen, the current Director of SDIBI, will assume management of SDRC Inc as per December 22, 2009."
But Joop Bollen did not assume management of SDRC Inc. on December 22, 2009. Bollen had been running SDRC Inc. from the day he incorporated it, January 10, 2008.
Bollen's active management of SDRC Inc. is demonstrated by several e-mails and invoices involving Bollen and SDRC Inc. finances:
- On April 28, 2009, Bollen sends two SDRC Inc. investor recruiter invoices to Gretchan Cleveland at Great Western Bank and tells Cleveland to process only one of them.
- On June 10, 2009, Bollen receives a recruiter invoice and an inquiry from SDRC Inc. Marketing Director Joe Jin (a.k.a. Joe Kim) asking if they should simply withhold legal fees from a commission and remit the balance.
- On November 2, 2009, Bollen tells Cleveland to process two SDRC Inc. recruiter invoices worth $160,000.
These e-mails show Bollen assumed management of SDRC Inc. well before he told USCIS he was doing so. These e-mails demonstrate that, in a document intended to prove that South Dakota's EB-5 program was complying with the law, Joop Bollen lied to federal officials.
Lying to federal officials is a violation of federal law. It may not be the worst of the violations committed by Mike Rounds's EB-5 czar, but it certainly could be part of why the FBI continues to investigate what happened in South Dakota under Mike Rounds's watch.
Bonus Howler: In the December 20, 2009, letter to Velarde, Bollen includes a chart showing all South Dakota EB-5 projects to date and their expected direct and indirect job creation. The number given for "SDIF LP2," the fund investing 65 EB-5 visa investors' $32.5 million in the Deadwood Mountain Grand Casino: 1,265.