Among the documents we can have fun reviewing this weekend as we try to put the state’s felony charges against former EB-5 czar Joop Bollen is the final 2014 report of the gutless wonders of GOAC, the Government Operations and Audit Committee that the Legislature ordered to investigate the Governor’s Office of Economic Development following the apparent suicide of former GOED chief Richard Benda and the subsequent scandal surrounding the EB-5 visa investment program. Readers will recall that the Republican-controlled GOAC concluded that Benda caused all the trouble that prompted their investigation.
GOAC chairman Senator Larry Tidemann, Republiccan from Brookings, politely invited Joop Bollen to provide “the chronology and details of the operation of the program” to help the committee understand EB-5. Bollen arrogantly declined to appear in person but submit an equally arrogant written response with that chronology. Bollen’s chronology runs from May 1994, when Bollen says he “was hired by NSU to set up an international outreach program to assist GOED in enhancing exports from SD” to September 2014, when he received GOAC’s request. Bollen’s last entry in that timeline says nothing about South Dakota’s EB-5 program (which Governor Dennis Daugaard had taken away from Bollen a year earlier) but only cites a Washington Post article that quotes a lawyer who had been hired by GOED back in 2009 as saying that EB-5 nationwide has been a “four-way win.”
Bollen’s timeline jumps from December 2010 to February 2013. The timeline completely skips 2012, the period during which Bollen allegedly used $1.24 million from a secured fund for personal expenses, the actions that have prompted the state’s five felony charges against him.
That gap set off no alarm bells for GOAC, which asked Bollen no follow-up questions.