Update 07:27 CDT: Big wheel keep on turning: Attorney General Marty Jackley tells the Aberdeen American News, “These are the initial charges…. We anticipate further charges.”
Governor Dennis Daugaard finds the charges filed yesterday against former EB-5 czar Joop Bollen remarkable:
The wheels of justice turn slowly, but the state continues to pursue this matter in civil and criminal court. I appreciate the Attorney General’s efforts in this investigation [Governor Dennis Daugaard, press release, 2016.03.31].
Actually, we could contend that the wheels turned pretty quickly, once the principals chose to give them a crank. Bollen’s alleged crimes—filching money from a million-dollar fund that Bollen was supposed to hold in security for the state—took place in the first half of 2012. Governor Dennis Daugaard cancelled Bollen’s contract to run EB-5 in September 2013. The Legislature’s Government Operations and Audit Committee and the Attorney General spent most of 2014 (when the guy who hired Joop Bollen, their friend and former Governor Mike Rounds, was running for U.S. Senate) not subpoenaing documents, not grilling Bollen, and telling us that the only person who did anything naughty in EB-5 was poor dead Richard Benda. From outside appearances, A.G. Jackley didn’t go looking at Bollen’s books until maybe October 2015, when the feds came down on our EB-5 corruption and our executive branch had to scramble to save face. And according to the probable cause affidavit in the Bollen case, when DCI Agent Jon Bierne took a look at the books on or about December 23, 2015, it became pretty clear pretty quickly that monkey business had happened.
The feds themselves dawdled, somehow spending two years investigating South Dakota’s EB-5 program and not noticing Bollen’s financial trickery. U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson, where wert thou?
The wheels of justice may turn slowly, but in this case, that slow turning may have been a matter of choice. Now that the feds appear to have gotten the wheels of justice rolling, let’s watch closely to see if A.G. Jackley’s job is to keep them rolling or to shorten their spin to prevent them from rolling over anyone other than Bollen. Let’s see if Jackley final turns the wheel on that bank franchise tax Bollen didn’t pay. And let’s see if our legislators decide to make amends for their gutlessness and order GOAC to spend this summer revisiting its 2014 EB-5 findings.