He just had to have that mummy mask.
Today the state filed five felony charges against former EB-5 visa investment czar Joop Bollen of Aberdeen. The state charges Bollen with five counts of violating SDCL 44-1-2, “unauthorized disposal of personal property subject to security interest.” Specifically, the state alleges that on five occasions in 2012, Bollen used Indemnification Fund #2, a.k.a. “Contingency Fund #3”, which Bollen was supposed to maintain to protect the state from trouble arising from EB-5, as his personal slush fund.
Recall that last October, the state sued Bollen’s EB-5 company, SDRC Inc., alleging that Bollen was refusing to give the state access to Indemnification Fund #2.
The probable cause affidavit submitted by DCI Special Agent Jon L. Bierne details the dates and amounts of Bollen’s alleged cookie-jar dipping:
#1: On February 17, 2012, Bollen transferred $300,000 from IF#2 to his EB-5 company SDRC Inc. account. He labeled the transfer “Joop and Pyush”. On the same day, Bollen moved $500,000 from the SDRC Inc. account to Brown County to buy TIF bonds on Northern Beef Packers, the doomed beef plant for which Bollen secured EB-5 funding. The affidavit notes that in 2015, Bollen collected $32,500 on those bonds and will continue to receive principal and interest payments on those TIF bonds until 2027.
#2: On April 13, 2012, Bollen transferred $370,000 from IF#2 to his SDRC Inc. account. He labeled this transfer “loan”. On the same day, Bollen transferred $410,000 from the SDRC Inc. account to Pyush Patel, a Georgia gas station owner who has been listed as Bollen’s vice-president at SDRC Inc. since 2012.
#3: On April 27, 2012, Bollen transferred $96,838.74 from IF#2 to SDRC Inc. On the same day, Bollen transferred that same amount from SDRC Inc. to Christie’s Fine Art, apparently to purchase an Egyptian artifact. (Christie’s did sell dozens of ancient Egyptian items from the Groppi Collection on April 26, 2012, but I see no individual artifacts matching that exact sale price.)
#4: On May 7, 2012, Bollen transferred $166,606.89 from IF#2 to an account labeled “LP3”. (LP3 was the designation Bollen used for the EB-5 funding for the Basin Electric Deer Creek power station.) On May 29, 2012, Bollen transferred those funds with most of the LP3 funds to the SDRC Inc. primary account.
#5: On June 19, 2012, Bollen transferred $310,000 from IF#2 to SDRC Inc. The next day, Bollen wired the same amount from SDRC Inc. to the Harer Family Trust, which holds and sells Egyptian antiquities.
That’s $1.24 million that didn’t belong to Bollen that Bollen used to benefit himself and his business partner Patel. According to Agent Bierne, Bollen appears to have replenished most of those cookies in the jar. However, Agent Bierne says that item #4, the May 7 transfer from IF#2 to LP3 and ultimately to SDRC Inc., was never paid back. That’s $166,606.89 that Bollen allegedly took from the state and never paid back.
All five counts are Class 6 felonies, each punishable with a maximum of two years in prison and a $4,000 fine.
While we wait for Bollen’s initial appearance in court tomorrow morning, you can read the complaint and probable cause affidavits (each just five pages) here: