Thirty-five Chinese nationals who lost millions when the EB-5 immigrant investment program went bankrupt can't sue South Dakota state agencies.

That's the decision of the South Dakota Supreme Court, issued Thursday, June 25.

A lower court dismissed the lawsuit because state agencies involved in running the investment program did not waive sovereign immunity.

The high court affirms that decision.

SDPB's Victoria Wicks has more.

Deadwood Mountain Grand Announces EB-5 Settlement

Aug 23, 2019

Deadwood Mountain Grand officials say a settlement was reached last week with investors from the EB-5 program.

According to a press release, the settlement will usher in a new era of leadership for the venue. The release says Dale Morris—long time investor and Nashville music industry insider—funded the settlement that brought an end to litigation.

Lawyers were able to resolve a $32.5 million outstanding debt, plus interest. The release did not detail the Morris-funded settlement.

File photo

EB-5 has become code for one of South Dakota's most complex political scandals. EB-5 is the program by which foreign investors buy a chance at getting a visa by investing a half million dollars to create jobs.

EB-5 is alive now in federal court, with foreign investors suing to be repaid a loan of $32.5 million.

The money came from a limited partnership called SDIF, which brought in 65 foreign investors putting up $500,000 each.

A limited liability company, or LLC, called Tentexkota, borrowed the money to build the Deadwood Mountain Grand casino and event center.

State Reaches Settlement With SDRC for $1.5 Million

Mar 14, 2017
Kealey Bultena / SDPB

The State of South Dakota reached a settlement with the company in charge of the EB 5 immigrant investor program for the state.
South Dakota Regional Center Incorporated agreed to pay the state $1.5 million for past EB 5 related expenses.
The Governor’s chief of staff, Tony Venhuizen, says the money should also cover any further litigation.


In The Moment ... February 16, 2017 Show 032 Hour 1

Lulu Garcia-Navarro is the new host of NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday. She talks with Lori Walsh about taking the helm of a legacy program on NPR, how an intimate conversation creates a driveway moment, and how the role of American journalists hasn’t changed as much as some people think.  

Contributed Photos

Two U.S. Senate candidates in South Dakota are calling for reforms to the state’s EB-5 program.

The program allows foreign investors who invest at least half a million dollars in businesses in the states to get fast tracked for an American visa.   

It’s hard to find many issues opposing candidates for U.S. Senate agree on, but both Senator John Thune and democratic candidate Jay Williams say the Federal EB-5 program needs reform.

Bollen Pleads Not Guilty

Jun 3, 2016

A man accused of misusing money related to the federal EB-5 program has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Joop Bollen faces five class six felony charges of disposing of personal property subject to security interest. He’s accused of taking more than a million dollars from a program offering visas in return for investment money. Bollen pleaded not guilty to all five counts, and is requesting a trial by jury. He is currently out on bond.

EB-5 Charges No Surprise For Aberdeen Residents

Apr 7, 2016

The man who led a federal program offering visas in exchange for foreign investment dollars in South Dakota faces criminal charges in Aberdeen. That city was home to a failed beef plant that used EB-5 money. Some Aberdeen residents say the charges were expected.


Aberdeen Mayor Mike Levson says it wasn’t a surprise that charges were brought against Joop Bollen. He says concern over the EB-5 scandal has faded for people in his community.

Bollen Makes Initial Court Appearance In EB-5 Case

Apr 1, 2016

A man accused of taking money that was related to a federal program made his initial court appearance in Aberdeen Friday. Joop Bollen is accused of misusing funds connected to the EB-5 program, which offers visas in return for investment dollars.

Governor Daugaard: State Must Learn From Gear-UP

Jan 13, 2016

Governor Dennis Daugaard says the state needs to examine the Gear Up scandal and learn how to avoid similar situations in the future.   

Shortly after the state terminated its relationship with administrating organization, the Mid-Central Education Cooperative, an employee at the program killed himself and his family.  

 Daugaard says the state needs to do a better job ensuring that outside agencies it does business with are adhering to ethical practices.

He made the statements on today’s Dakota Midday. 

The Dakota Political Junkies serve up some perspective on the top political headlines for 2015. Scandals in state government. Race relations Rapid City. Madison's cyber-security boom. The Junkies unpack the year and look forward to 2016 with signature intelligence, insight, and wit.

Featuring Seth Tupper ("Rapid City Journal"), Jon Hunter ("Madison Daily Leader"), and Jonathan Ellis ("Sioux Falls Argus Leader").

Dakota Midday: Dakota Political Junkies

Dec 10, 2015

Roger Whittle, managing editor of the Watertown Public Opinion, and Denise Ross, editor with the Black Hills Knowledge Network/South Dakota Dashboard, discusses Tuesday's budget address by Governor Dennis Daugaard.  They also visited about the latest news concerning EB-5 lawsuits and the possibility that the U.S. Air Force could base some of its F-35 joint strike fighters in Sioux Falls.

Investigations into three separate corruption scandals involving state government are now underway in South Dakota.
They include EB-5, Gear Up, and alleged missing state funds along with items from the Secretary of State’s office.
These scandals have lead some in South Dakota to question the level of oversight in state programs.

Sen. Rounds Won’t Lobby To Keep EB-5 In SD

Oct 22, 2015

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is set to terminate South Dakota’s participation in the EB-5 program, stating a failure to submit required information and demonstrate promotion of economic growth. U.S. Senator Mike Rounds says federal government officials have a right to ask questions.


Dana Ferguson, watchdog state government and political reporter for the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, joined guest host Cara Hetland to discuss DAKOTACARE's exit from the Federal Exchange and a federal immigration agency's plan to drop South Dakota's EB-5 program among other items.

The Federal Government is citing administrative issues in ending South Dakota’s participation in a foreign investment-for-green-card program, known as E-B-5.  The U-S Citizenship and Immigration Services has ruled the state’s regional center for the program is not promoting economic growth.  Officials add administrators have not submitted required information. SDPB’s Gary Ellenbolt has more.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

After more than five years as South Dakota’s United States Attorney, Brendan Johnson is stepping down. Wednesday Johnson held a news conference to announce that March 11th is his final day in the office.

Brendan Johnson says he set goals when he became South Dakota’s U-S Attorney five and a half years ago. He says he’s proud of accomplishments made under his leadership. Johnson says tribal communities are safer, violence against women and children has decreased, and South Dakotans are cracking down on sex trafficking.

GOAC Continues EB-5 Inquiry

Nov 13, 2014

The State Government Operations and Audit Committee heard testimony from officials with the Board of Regents on EB-5 and alleged fraud that occurred when a key player privatized state oversight of the program potentially raking in millions in private profit.
Democrats on the committee cited frustrations at not being able to get to the bottom of the alleged fraud.   
But committee Republicans say criminal prosecutions are outside the preview of the legislature, they cite an ongoing federal investigation into the EB-5 program.

Poli Sci Profs: Independent Prosecutor Needed For EB-5

Oct 29, 2014

Some political science professors who teach at universities across South Dakota say the EB-5 scandal requires an independent prosecutor.  They say the current system is not doing enough to get to the bottom of the case.
While other professors believe it’s still too early to make that call. 

Click play below to hear more.

Debate Candidates Spar On EB-5, Social Security Issues

Oct 23, 2014

Three candidates running for South Dakota’s open U.S. Senate seat hammered Mike Rounds on EB-5 in Thursday night’s debate. 

The federal immigration program was the first question in the debate; it’s been a major issue in this year’s race.
Rick Weiland, Larry Pressler and Gordon Howie all criticized Mike Rounds for his role in alleged corruption, embezzlement and fraud in the program.
Rounds says EB-5 has been good for South Dakota.

Rounds for Senate

Rapid City Journal reporter Seth Tupper and Sioux Falls Argus-Leader political reporter David Montgomery joined the Dakota Political Junkies this week. They discussed the latest news in the race for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Democrat Tim Johnson along with the unfolding EB-5 saga.

Rounds' EB-5 Story Changes Over Time

Oct 16, 2014

The EB-5 story has become a centerpiece in the U.S. Senate race.

Former Governor Mike Rounds states he had nothing to do with the alleged embezzlement and fraud that occurred in part of the program before Northern Beef Packers went bankrupt.

Rounds says he’s been upfront and transparent with the public.   
But his answer to the question, “What did you know when?” has changed over time.

Click play below to hear the rest of the story.

A state legislative leader says decisions surrounding economic development in South Dakota go against recent open government commitments. Five years ago, lawmakers passed legislation that says South Dakota documents are assumed public unless they fit into a list of exceptions. But one legislator says the way the state is handling questions about the EB-5 program goes against those rules. 

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Three people want to be South Dakota’s next governor, and they meet Thursday night in a statewide broadcast to share their visions with voters. Candidates meet on SDPB TV for a gubernatorial debate guided by questions from people across the state.  The three are likely to focus their answers on the issues they see as most important for South Dakota citizens.

Arbitration Ruling Highlights Deep EB-5 Divisions

Oct 7, 2014

A California arbitrator cleared the South Dakota Board of Regents and the state in a breach of contract case involving the federal EB-5 immigrant visa program.
Both political parties are claiming gains from the case that has become a center point this election year.
Republicans say this resolution vindicates Mike Rounds and state officials of any wrongdoing.  

NBP Bankruptcy And EB-5 Questions Loom

Oct 1, 2014

It’s been over a year since Northern Beef Packers went bankrupt and some business owners in the Aberdeen area say they don’t expect to recover losses.  

According to the bankruptcy filing from August of last year Northern Beef owed more than $138-million to hundreds of businesses and individual investors from around the world, and even local city and state government.

NPB was receiving millions in foreign investment through the federal EB-5 program that is now the center of controversy.

Rounds for Senate

On Wednesday members of the Government Audit Operations Operations met in Pierre to discuss the EB-5 program. Lawmakers reviewed written responses from former Republican Governor Mike Rounds and current Governor Dennis Daugaard to questions asked by the committee. Rounds is running for U.S. Senate and Daugaard is seeking re-election. Democrats have been making EB-5 an issue in the fall campaign and trying to link it to Rounds.

Lawmakers in Pierre are examining EB-5 and other economic development programs in South Dakota ahead of their final report and recommendation. They've also scheduled their next meeting for after the November election. 

GOAC Spars Over EB-5

Sep 24, 2014

Members of the Government Operations and Audit Committee  or GOAC differ on the details around the examination of the EB-5 program in South Dakota.
Democrats presented documents to the committee showing South Dakota owes money this year for defending a lawsuit over the management of the EB-5 program.  
But Republicans charge that this issue is overly politicized and the questions posed are outside of the committee’s authority.

State lawmakers on the Government Operations and Audit Committee reviewed Governor Dennis Daugaard and former Governor Mike Rounds’ written responses to questions about the EB-5 program on Wednesday. They also formulated questions for the program's former director, Joop Bollen. Sioux Falls Argus-Leader reporter and columnist Jonathan Ellis and Rapid City Journal reporter Seth Tupper joined Dakota Midday and discussed the latest news in the unfolding EB-5 saga.