Joop Bollen’s response to the state’s effort to hang him for the corruption of South Dakota’s EB-5 program draws Maurice Berez back into the public spotlight. In its response to the USCIS begging to keep South Dakota’s EB-5 Regional Center status, the Governor’s Office of Economic Development includes the following e-mail from “Morrie”—Mr. Berez, that is:
Bollen or his lawyer Jeff Sveen appears to have stamped “CONFIDENTIAL” on Berez’s e-mail; the state appears to disagree with that designation.
Maurice Berez gained his EB-5 expertise as chief adjudications officer for the USCIS under the GW Bush Administration. Berez approved the 2008 expansion of South Dakota’s EB-5 program. Berez then became an executive for SDRC Inc., the corporation Joop Bollen used to privatize his state EB-5 duties and make lots of money. Berez toured China with Bollen to recruit EB-5 investors for South Dakota projects.
In the twist of the morning, Berez is listed as part of the staff of EB-5Supermarket.com, a company that focuses on EB-5 investment in China, alongside Robert Divine, a fellow former USCIS official whom GOED has hired as its lead lawyer in persuading USCIS not to cancel our EB-5 access.
Interestingly, Berez does not offer any comment on the specific accusations of error and misconduct that the state and Bollen are trading. Berez simply lays out the rules that would cause 274 EB-5 investors and their families to lose their legal immigration status if USCIS terminates South Dakota’s Regional Center status. “For the interests of several hundred South Dakota EB-5 investors at risk here,” writes Berez, “it is critical that the State of South Dakota prepare an effective response that addresses, clarifies and otherwise mitigates each of the factors cited by USCIS as its basis for issuance of the Notice of Intent to Terminate.”
Unstated is whether Berez, as a former SDRC Inc. official under Joop Bollen, stands to collect any residual fees from his help in recruiting those investors, or whether the “effective response” he was hoping the state would issue would focus on hanging his old pal Joop.