A little known program put in place by H.W. Bush in 1990 grants Visas to foreign investors for a minimum $500,000.00 investment. The purpose of this program originally was for foreign investors to create jobs in disadvantaged communities as well as expand current business enterprises. In return, those investors would be fast-tracked to citizenship via Visas by the INS. Unfortunately, Democrats also bought into this plan figuring that it was ok to pump money into the economy as long as we had a little oversight. Also, too, Canada had a program similar to this in place and they figured why should all the money go to Canada?
South Dakota has had numerous projects funded this way...only a couple of them have worked out. The beef plant in Aberdeen and Veblen dairy were both promised money by foreign investors but both were promised more money than they received. Both have now gone bankrupt and hundreds of South Dakotans are out of jobs.
This article lays out the problems of this program and points out how even after an administrator is no longer with the INS, they can profit off the EB-5 program with no accountability.
Evidently, there were some guidelines put in place after this article ran, but still not enough oversight.
South Dakota jumped on the EB-5 bandwagon during Mike Rounds' administration. He is currently running for Sen. Tim Johnson's soon-to-be-vacated seat. Gov. Rounds contracted with Joop Bollen to administer the program. Bollen is now being investigated for fraud related to the program.
Our former director of tourism, Richard Benda, also worked with Joop Bollen on these EB-5 contracts. He was found dead in southeast South Dakota in October while hunting. No official cause of death has been indicated, but his brother-in-law said he was shot in the side. This is also being investigated.
And here is a link to Corey Heidelberger's excellent summary in South Dakota Magazine. He operates an awesome blog in South Dakota, Madvilletimes.com.
To sum up:
South Dakota bought into the idea of cheap investment money to expand business in South Dakota via the EB-5 program. Governor Rounds enlisted the help of his friend, Joop Bollen to administer it. Richard Benda worked with Bollen and was the head of our tourism industry. EB-5 gets investigated, Bollen's government contract is dropped, Benda ends up dead in a suspicious hunting accident.
Move along, nothing to see here...typical South Dakota politics.