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Bollen’s Lawyer Sveen in Tricky Spot in Investor Lawsuit Against SDRC Inc.

When South Dakota’s scandal-dogged EB-5 czar Joop Bollen goes to court, he usually turns to Aberdeen attorney Jeff Sveen for his lawyering. But will Sveen be able to represent Bollen in the fraud lawsuit filed yesterday by 35 Chinese EB-5 investors trying to get back the $18.55 million of their money that Bollen made go poof in Northern Beef Packers?

Consider these messy details:

  1. The Chinese plaintiffs are suing Bollen and his corporate entities SDRC Inc. and SDIF LP6, as well as the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, to reclaim investments they made in the second round of EB-5 funding for Northern Beef Packers in 2010.
  2. During that period, Bollen hired California firm Maverick Spade to help secure additional financing for NBP.
  3. According to Maverick Spade principal David Kang, securing that financing required coming to Aberdeen and cleaning up the utter mess that Joop Bollen and his partners had made of the finances and management of NBP.
  4. David Kang told reporter Denise Ross that Jeff Sveen was “one of Joop’s partners” during this time.
  5. Four weeks after running Ross’s interview with Kang, the Mitchell Daily Republic curiously retracted that statement at the behest of Sveen, who said he was not one of Bollen’s partners. (Ross quit the paper over this retraction of her accurate reporting of a statement made by interviewee.)
Google Translation: "Dakota turkey food company CEO and Solicitor Mr. Jeff Sveen"—at EB-5 investor recruitment session in China; photo from, 2008.04.23
Google Translation: “Dakota turkey food company CEO and Solicitor Mr. Jeff Sveen”—at EB-5 investor recruitment session in China; photo from, 2008.04.23.

Jeff Sveen clearly assisted SDRC Inc. in its EB-5 activities in a capacity beyond legal counsel. This Chinese website documents Sveen’s presence in China with Bollen, SDRC Inc. partner James Park, and recruiter Joe Kim on April 23, 2008.

If Kang’s observation was correct—if Jeff Sveen was partnering in the business operations of SDRC Inc. at Northern Beef Packers and acting beyond the parameters of his attorney-client relationship with Bollen, his knowledge of business affairs at NBP would not be shielded by attorney-client privilege. And if Sveen could be called as a witness in this lawsuit, he would not be able to serve as Bollen’s attorney.

That possible conflict and loss of attorney-client privilege could explain why Sveen was so adamant about beating back Kang’s claim that Sveen was Bollen’s partner at Northern Beef Packers.

In related litigation, recall that Sveen is already representing Bollen in his defamation and breach-of-contract countersuit against the State of South Dakota, which is suing SDRC Inc. to obtain EB-5 documents and payment for legal expenses incurred by Bollen’s EB-5 activities. That battle could make their presence as co-defendants in the Chinese investors’ lawsuit prickly.

But note that Sveen’s Aberdeen law firm, Siegel Barnett & Schutz LLP, has enjoyed legal service contracts with the state. A quick check of the state’s contract database produces two contracts between Siegel Barnett & Schutz and the state: one to represent the state executive branch throughout Fiscal Year 2015 (capped at $50,000, the maximum for no-bid contracts), and another with the Department of Social Services to represent the South Dakota Board of Addiction and Prevention Professionals from January 26 to May 31, 2015 (capped at $19,000). The contract database shows no current contracts between Siegel Barnett & Schutz and the state, but the two contracts listed here were in effect while the state and SDRC Inc. were engaged in their initial legal wranglings over obtaining some compensation from SDRC Inc. for the costs of the Darley litigation. So last winter and spring, Sveen appears to have been defending his client Joop Bollen against the state even as his firm enjoyed contracts to represent the state in other matters. Hmmm… perhaps that’s why we don’t see any contracts for Siegel Barnett & Schutz active now.


  1. leslie 2015-12-03 08:46

    “SDRS, Inc.”, not SDRS (a separate entity), and not SDRS Inc. i know, its not EB5, but-5. some punctuation IS important. besides, “we don’t need fancified education credits in SD”. dd and bor

    firms love the state when they milk’em. then they hate the state, county, city ect. when no longer on the teat, as duffy’s partner joe butler used to say, and sue ’em at every opportunity as the “deep pocket”. that’s like “piecing the corporate veil”…eeewwwww. corporations 101. -not some sturgis vernacular troy’s kid got at the tattoo parlor last summer!

    but firms close to the action-pierre-aberdeen, ect. have fewer choices.

  2. Rorschach 2015-12-03 09:08

    Speaking of tattoos, Badlands Pawn Shop is quite a place. Not much pawned stuff to buy there though – except guns. You don’t have to buy tattoos though. Tattoos of Badlands logos are free, and someone is always in line for those free tattoos. The radio station KBAD is awesome! It’s going to run KRRO out of business.

  3. Porter Lansing 2015-12-03 10:04

    EB-5 Scandal drip…drip…drip

  4. Rorschach 2015-12-03 10:39

    The translated caption under Sveen’s photo is not accurate. I much prefer Porter’s translation in the other post:

    “Solicitor Mr. turkey Dakota US food company CEO Jeff Sveen”

  5. leslie 2015-12-03 15:53

    don’t underestimate this dude. lawyers of his caliber are in complex transactions every day of the week. not saying anything about his ethics or lack thereof. but he’s definitely getting name recognition like donald trump! he’s probably been or will be a state bar president.

  6. Whither 2015-12-03 16:11

    Is there honor among thieves? This lawsuit should test that question among Bollen, Sveen & others at the law firm.
    Who owes what to whom? Does Bollen owe his SDRC Inc. and all that it hath wrought to Sveen & Co.’s legal shrewdness(or perceived shrewdness) in setting up all the schemes? Or does Sveen owe Bollen for taking 90% of the public heat, being the dude named in lawsuits and becoming the face of this tragicomedy?
    Will Bollen stand alone and take fire on this lawsuit while Sveen might be allowed to act as an officer of the court? Or will Bollen say, ‘I’m not going down alone,” and start revealing some of the juicy details behind his enterprise’s operations?
    And if Bollen turns on his partner, who will he then turn to for legal advice/representation?
    This is the best soap opera going. Send in the Coen Brothers!

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