Not long ago Troy Jones said this about me:
Maybe his views on the Governor’s economic development plan are correct. But, if all I hear is I am a “crony capitalist,” a “RINO” or desiring the “New World Order” (which is false), I will not hear his arguments. Too much poison.
So lets start with the latest details that popped up today in regard to the South Dakota Office of Economic Development investigation:
Federal authorities are investigating the finances of an idled beef plant and a federal immigration program that supplied much of its funding, two former chief players in the company told The Associated Press on Thursday.
The revelation comes a day after Gov. Dennis Daugaard said the state’s economic development office was being investigated. Daugaard declined to provide details of that investigation, and state officials on Thursday refused to say whether the investigations are the same. News of the probes comes soon after a former top official in the development office was found dead with a gunshot wound.
Dennis Hellwig, who stepped down as Northern Beef Packers’ general partner more than four years ago, and Bob Breukelman, the plant’s former construction engineer, told the AP they have been questioned by federal investigators about the idled Aberdeen plant’s financial dealings and the federal EB-5 program, in which foreign investors can secure permanent residency for as little as $500,000.
“There were some discrepancies in the way the EB-5 program was being handled,” Breukelman said.
But this is not new news. Bob Mercer was on top of this a week ago:
This is a story that likely will grow in the months ahead, as former Gov. Mike Rounds campaigns for the Republican nomination to the U.S. Senate seat from which Democrat Tim Johnson is retiring in 2014. The beef plant financing took years to round up, in stops and starts; the idea of being able to market South Dakota Certified Beef from the plant was a Rounds administration effort. He already was out of office before the plant could finally open. The financing relied significantly on the EB-5 visa program that focuses on foreign investors; these were channeled through the South Dakota Investment Funds Limited Partnerships, centered at Aberdeen through the South Dakota International Business Institute. The past several years, Benda worked for that investment program. This fall he began a new job with Heartland Consumers Power District at Madison as development director. With its ties to a national immigration program for wealthy investors, and with investors jilted, workers dumped, a formidable candidate for Senate involved, and a prominent man now dead, this story could become a focus of national, international and financial reporters. [Mercer also has a post on Senate Majoirty leader Russ Olson who now is CEO for the same Heartland Consumer Power. Wonder what Russ has to say about all fo this?]
The Argus Leader AP report identifies EB-5 entity as the "South Dakota Regional Center":
Neither Jackley nor Daugaard’s spokesman, Tony Venhuizen, would comment on whether the investigations Daugaard revealed Wednesday involve Northern Beef, Benda or the Aberdeen-based South Dakota Regional Center, which arranged EB-5 loans to the beef plant and other projects in the state.
Allegations about the South Dakota center have drawn the attention of U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Grassley in February sent a letter to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services asking the agency to look into the “possible violations.”
Note the report validates what Jackley and Venhuizen refused to comment on. Also note Mercer and the Argus have two different indentities for supplying the EB-5 loans, so I googled both (South Dakota International Business Institute and South Dakota Regional Center) and found this:
South Dakota Regional Center Open Letter
by South Dakota International Business Institute (SDIBI)
The challenge for the EB-5 investor is a daunting one. How do you compare regional centers and how can you effectively evaluate the numerous projects that are offered by the ever increasing number of regional centers? I believe that your precious time is best spent evaluating which regional center you should align yourself with as, by definition, a good local partner will only offer solid investment opportunities and look out for your best interests.
I therefore would like you to be aware of the following facts about South Dakotaʼs regional center:
The South Dakota Regional received USCIS Regional Center approval in April, 2004. Since the approval date, South Dakota has completed over 20 projects ranging in size from $2,500,000 to $100,000,000. Not a single I-526 has been denied to date!!
South Dakotaʼs Regional Center is truly a state government run regional center where economic development is the reward and not profit for company which manages the regional center!!
South Dakota intends for the regional center to benefit the economy for a long time to come and therefore we will vigorously protect the integrity of our regional center as we understand that one failed investment would undermine the future of our program.
South Dakotaʼs federal representatives and high ranking state officials understand the benefits EB-5 has provided to our State and are willing to assist or intervene when and if deemed necessary.
Finally, unlike a privately managed program where the company can call it quits and disappear overnight, I can assure you that the State of South Dakota is here to stay!! I invite you to explore the opportunities that South Dakotaʼs Regional Center has to offer
and invite you to contact me if additional information is needed.
Joop Bollen Director,
SDIBI 1200 South Jay Street Aberdeen, SD 57401, USA
001 605 626 3098 (office Phone)
The recent enforcement action by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) against Intercontinental Regional Center Trust of Chicago (IRCTC), with its numerous allegations of fraud and misrepresentation by the center and its principals, once again brings the EB-5 program into the public spotlight in a way that cannot help the program. Certainly, there will be calls again for reform.
Both the American Immigration Lawyers Association and the EB-5 industry’s trade Association, Invest in the USA (IIUSA), have for years vigorously warned attorneys and regional center principals of the danger of noncompliance with U.S. and states’ securities laws. Most have taken heed, although there are still some bad actors among regional centers (and the lawyers who counsel them) who continue to violate US securities law in their greed to acquire ever more investor money.
The leading cause of the problem, in my opinion, is that success to the EB-5 field has thus been driven mostly by marketing prowess and only faintly by merit.
The Chinese market is attractive to regional centers not just because of the large demand there, but also because it is possible there to simply buy investors regardless of whether you have a sound project or not.
[The bottom of the report has this:]
Other scandals, such as those involving the El Monte Regional Center, Victorville Regional Center, and the South Dakota Regional Center “Dairy Case,” all show the same pattern of small projects finding investors in China by paying very high fees to Chinese emigration agents, and no one performing even superficial due diligence.
To be continued……
Gov. Dennis Daugaard will lead a group of South Dakota business leaders on a trade mission to China later this month.
Daugaard says the goal is to help the companies get a foothold in the Chinese market. The trip is being funded through a federal grant program aimed at increasing the number of small businesses that are exporting and increasing the value of current exports.
Representatives of Lloyd's Systems of Rapid City, MASABA of Vermillion, Kolberg-Pioneer of Yankton and Daktronics of Brookings are to be on the trip March 24-29, along with Daugaard and two of his Cabinet members: Economic Development Commissioner Pat Costello and Agriculture Secretary Walt Bones.
Gov. Dennis Daugaard is inviting South Dakota business leaders to join him on a trade mission to China in April.
Daugaard led a similar trade mission last spring.
“One area of focus for my office has been increasing our state’s exports, which in turn will help grow South Dakota’s economy through job creation,” Daugaard said in a release. “We are returning to China because the Chinese market offers South Dakota businesses tremendous potential for growth.”
Economic Development Commissioner Pat Costello and Agriculture Secretary Walt Bones will also take part in the trade mission, which is scheduled April 5-12.
Representatives from up to 15 companies will be selected to accompany Daugaard.
Yes Daugaard points out that the investigation is in regard to what happened prior to when he became Governor, but wasn't he the lieutenant governor for Governor Rounds. And are the trips he put together to China related to the EB-5 regional center, that is run by state government?
Once you absorb the above information, the position of these two legislators seems odd:
Lawmakers KELOLAND News talked to Thursday say they are learning all these details right along with the rest of the public.
Senate Majority Leader Tim Rave says he has not been briefed on the situation and just learned of it Wednesday, but says that’s not out of the ordinary.
"I suspect that had a lot to do with it being an investigation and of course they wouldn't be able to tell us anything other than there's an investigation going on," Rave said.
House Minority Leader Bernie Hunhoff says he's just hearing about it, too.
"It's really in the hands of the investigators and we shouldn't be meddling in that," Hunhoff said Thursday.
Both politicians supported the railroaded economic development legisation during last session. They should be doing more than just sitting on there hands. Or is all of this New World Order stuff more than what they can handle? When will Troy Jones and legislators on both sides wake up? The executive branch and their moneyed interest are in complete conrol of this state. And the moneyed interests are international in scope. Their plan to establish an utopian new world order will end in total disaster.