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Atty: EB-5 Leader Masqueraded As Legal Rep.

Kealey Bultena

The attorney for the South Dakota Democratic Party says the man who ran the EB-5 program fraudulently acted as a legal representative for the state.

It’s the latest in on-going discussions related to the way South Dakota used to administer an immigrant visa program. Federally-authorized EB-5 operations give foreign investors green cards when they put money into American enterprises.

Attorney Patrick Duffy says former state employee Joop Bollen masqueraded as a lawyer when an investor headhunter sued his business – and dragged the state of South Dakota into the lawsuit.

"He didn’t just purport to represent himself. He purported to represent the state of South Dakota. Once that became known in the Attorney General’s office and the Governor’s office, this whole thing went to DefCon 4. There was widespread panic, because the state of South Dakota, now for going-on five years, has been hung up on a bull. And that bull is a liability for the citizens of South Dakota," Duffy says.

Duffy estimates the potential liability for the state is anywhere between $900,000 and more than $24 million.

South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley says Joop Bollen never worked for his office and never had a contract to provide any legal services for the state. Jackley says he outlined that in a filing in a California court.

"We knew there was an allegation, and, because of that allegation, I felt, as Attorney General, I wanted to make it clear that, even though we don’t represent GOED and we haven’t represented the Board of Regents on this, I wanted to make clear that neither I nor my predecessor Attorney General has ever authorized him to act on behalf of the state legally," Jackley says. 

The attorney for the South Dakota Democratic Party Patrick Duffy says he was skeptical that someone suing Joop Bollen’s company – SDRC, Inc. – could legally go after the state’s public EB-5 entity, the South Dakota International Business Institute. He says declarations and court briefs prove tax dollars are at risk.

Duffy points to an additional filing from Board of Regents Executive Director Jack Warner. He declares any money awarded through a successful lawsuit against the SDIBI "would be paid out of the funds of the State of South Dakota.”

Kealey Bultena grew up in South Dakota, where her grandparents took advantage of the state’s agriculture at nap time, tricking her into car rides to “go see cows.” Rarely did she stay awake long enough to see the livestock, but now she writes stories about the animals – and the legislature and education and much more. Kealey worked in television for four years while attending the University of South Dakota. She started interning with South Dakota Public Broadcasting in September 2010 and accepted a position with television in 2011. Now Kealey is the radio news producer stationed in Sioux Falls. As a multi-media journalist, Kealey prides herself on the diversity of the stories she tells and the impact her work has on people across the state. Kealey is always searching for new ideas. Let her know of a great story! Find her on Facebook and twitter (@KealeySDPB).
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