Posts Tagged ‘EB-5

15
Jan
14

Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s State of the State address

In case you missed it — here’s a link allowing you to view South Dakota Public Broadcasting’s coverage of Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s State of the State address, presented to the Legislature in Pierre Jan. 14:

Video: State of the State Address – 2014 | Watch Statehouse Online | SDPB Television Video.

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10
Jan
14

Jackley to release Benda info to auditor general

PIERRE, S.D – Attorney General Jackley announces that the Attorney General and the Auditor General today filed a joint motion with the Sixth Circuit Court. This joint motion requested a court order authorizing the Attorney General to lawfully release criminal investigative and state grand jury information in the custody of the Attorney General to the Department of Legislative Audit.

“The Legislature and our courts have set limitations on a prosecutor’s ability to release criminal justice information, and I do believe that privacy protections provided by our laws are important and worthy considerations,” stated Attorney General Jackley. “Disclosure of the Benda criminal investigation matters to our State’s Auditor General for a lawful purpose is and should be occurring through proper procedures, not as some suggest by dangerously giving prosecutors unlimited authority to release criminal investigations that may involve innocent witnesses or suspects.”

The release of the documents and information is for the purpose of assisting the Auditor General in completing the Department of Legislative Audit’s financial and compliance audit of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) for the period of FY2010 through FY2013. Under South Dakota law, the Department of Legislative Audit has authority to obtain access to financial records that are in the custody of state agencies in order to perform its auditing activities. The Auditors for the Department of Legislative Audit have determined that the Attorney General may have financial records and information pertinent to the GOED audit in the following areas:

  •   Reimbursements to former Department of Tourism and State Development Secretary Richard Benda regarding trips to China that were paid from state funds and from the Expense Fund maintained by South Dakota Regional Center, Inc. (SDRC), which under the agreement between GOED and SDRC are state funds.
  •   The flow of the $1,000,000 Future Fund Grant monies from the Office of Governor to Northern Beef Packers Limited Partnership (“Northern Beef”); the flow of $550,000 of those monies subsequently transferred by Northern Beef to SDRC; and how the $550,000 was used by SDRC.
  •   Other grants, loans or payments made to Northern Beef by the GOED or any other state agency, directly or through the South Dakota Development Corporation (a nonprofit corporation affiliated with GOED and staffed by GOED employees).
 The Auditor General anticipated that some of the financial documentation and information contained in the investigation file and obtained by agents in the course of their investigation are not available from other state agencies or third parties, and that the release of such documentation would also eliminate duplication.

The Court has issued an Order allowing the Attorney General to release the Division of Criminal Investigation Reports reasonably necessary for completion of the Department of Legislative Audit’s financial and compliance audit of GOED, consistent with the Attorney General and Auditor General’s joint motion. The Court noted “This Order neither increases nor decreases any statutory requirements of confidentiality; all such provisions remain in effect. The Order simply allows these two agencies to share information in the exercise of their respective duties.” The Court further made clear that “except to the extent any information is necessary for inclusion in the Department of Legislative Audit’s public audit document, all documents and information obtained under this Order shall be held confidential and only accessed by the Auditor General and those members of his staff that are part of the GOED audit.”

12
Dec
13

Rep. Kathy Tyler Renews Request for an Independent Forensic Audit from Executive Board

Sioux Falls, SD (December 11) – Rep. Kathy Tyler (D-Big Stone City) plans to ask the state legislature’s executive board to authorize an independent forensic audit of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) overseeing the controversial EB-5 program after her call for a special session did not garner enough signatures.

Tyler released the following statement today:

“While I’m disappointed that two-thirds of the state legislators did not want a special session to follow the money associated with the EB-5 program, Northern Beef Packers, and the GOED, I am pleased at the amount of bipartisan support that there is for an investigation of the EB-5 program and the GOED.

“Many legislators told me they too want answers to the many questions raised about the EB-5 program  but that a special session wasn’t the right venue, and I understand that. They pointed to an article by South Dakota government reporter Bob Mercer, which laid out how the state legislature’s executive board, which has subpoena and summons powers, can authorize an investigation.

“ I had, in fact, already followed Mr. Mercer’s advice. I asked to be placed on the agenda of the November 18th executive board meeting; however, the board rejected my request because of ongoing state investigations. With state investigations closed, we’re now left with more questions than answers.

“Because of continuing bipartisan support for an investigation of the South Dakota’s EB-5 program and its projects, I’m renewing my request for an independent forensic audit at the next executive board meeting on Monday, December 16.

“The more I research the issues and the more people I visit, the more I see the necessity of an independent forensic audit of the entire program and its projects. The $550,000 stolen from the state Future Funds program is just the tip of the iceberg; South Dakota citizens have lost millions of dollars and deserve to know where their money went. It’s our responsibility to find the answers; let’s get to the bottom of this once and for all.”

Kathy Tyler

State Representative

48170 144th St

Big Stone City, SD 57216

605.237.0228

rep.tyler@state.sd.us

www.facebook.com/tylerfordistrict4

04
Dec
13

Commentary by Rep. Kathy Tyler (D-Big Stone City)

Can the state authorize a forensic audit of SDRC, Inc?
By Rep. Kathy Tyler (D-Big Stone City)

One of the big questions concerning my request for a forensic audit of South Dakota’s EB-5 Visa program is whether or not the state has the authority to authorize an audit of SDRC, Inc, a privately held company.

The SD Legislature could and should immediately authorize a forensic audit of SDRC, Inc.

The contract outsourcing the administration of the lucrative EB-5 franchise to SDRC, Inc was made effective on December 22, 2009 and was signed by South Dakota Department of Tourism and State Development Secretary Richard Benda and by SDRC, Inc. President Joop Bollen on June 4, 2010.

Under Section 14 of the contract: (Please note that SDRC in this paragraph refers to SDRC, Inc.; DTSD is the Department of Tourism and State Development—now GOED; CIS is Citizen and Immigration Service)

“SDRC shall maintain such books, records, and reports as are currently or in the future required by CIS, 8 CFR 204.6 or other applicable law, or as may otherwise reasonably be required by DTSD. SDRC shall provide true and correct copies of such books, records and reports to DTSD as often as such books, records and reports are required to be provided to CIS, but in no event less than monthly. SDRC shall provide DTSD or its designee reasonable access to SDRC’s original books, records and reports such that DTSD can assure itself of SDRC’s compliance with the record-keeping requirements contained in this paragraph.”

Even though the Administration official claims that South Dakota cannot legally audit SDRC, Inc., the contract language specifically states our right to access the original books, records, and reports. The state can and should authorize an audit of the entire program, starting in 2004 to the present time.

Unless the Administration is going to suggest that the Legislature cannot provide oversight to an Executive Branch Department, there is no reason not to order up a forensic audit of SDRC, Inc. It is our duty and responsibility to the citizens of South Dakota to authorize this audit.  It’s time to do what’s right.

If SDRC, Inc. wants to obstruct justice, they can seek their own private attorneys.  It will illuminate just where guilt truly lies.

And off the record, I’m not asking for an audit of a federal program as some reports are stating. I am asking for an audit of South Dakota’s EB-5 program.

27
Nov
13

Death certificate: Benda used stick to push trigger

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — The death certificate for former state economic development director Richard Benda says he shot himself by pushing the trigger with a stick.

The Argus Leader obtained the document Wednesday (http://argusne.ws/1gjA6yy ).

The certificate says Benda secured the shotgun against a tree and used a stick to press the trigger and shoot himself in the abdomen.

Benda was found Oct. 22 in a grove of trees near Lake Andes, in southeast South Dakota.

Attorney General Marty Jackley announced autopsy results last week indicating it was suicide.

Benda served as secretary of Tourism and State Development from 2006 to 2010 under former Gov. Mike Rounds.

State investigators say that during that time, Benda double-billed the state for three flights, valued at about $5,500.

He also was the loan monitor for Northern Beef Packers.

___

Information from: Argus Leader, http://www.argusleader.com

21
Nov
13

Jackley: Bende died of self-inflicted gunshot

South Dakota Department of Tourism and State Development Secretary Richard Benda ends months of speculation and reveals Hyperion Resources, Inc., as the “Gorilla Project” that has plans to locate an oil refinery in Union County. Benda addressed a standing-room-only crowd of media and interested citizens at a news conference Wednesday, June 13, 2007, in the Union County Courthouse in Elk Point. (Photo by David Lias)

South Dakota Department of Tourism and State Development Secretary Richard Benda ends months of speculation and reveals Hyperion Resources, Inc., as the “Gorilla Project” that has plans to locate an oil refinery in Union County. Benda addressed a standing-room-only crowd of media and interested citizens at a news conference Wednesday, June 13, 2007, in the Union County Courthouse in Elk Point. (Photo by David Lias)

PIERRE, S.D  – Attorney General Marty Jackley announced today that the Division of Criminal
Investigation has concluded its investigation into the death of Richard Benda, Sioux Falls.

On October 22, 2013, Benda was found dead in rural Charles Mix County by a family member, which
was immediately reported to local law enforcement. The scene was secured by law enforcement at which
time the Division of Criminal Investigation was contacted and asked to conduct a death investigation. It was determined that date of death was Sunday, Oct. 20.

The autopsy, conducted by the Forensic Pathologist, Minnehaha County Coroner indicates that the cause
of death was a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the abdomen and ruled a suicide. No physical or digital
evidence has been found to indicate foul play.  The investigation scene reconstruction, interviews
conducted, evidence collected at the scene and forensic testing do not indicate foul play and are consistent
with the forensic autopsy findings. The forensic testing included, but was not limited to firearm
functioning, ballistic testing, DNA and fingerprinting.

The Attorney General would like to thank the Charles Mix County Sheriff’s Office and federal authorities
for their assistance during the death investigation. The Attorney General again offers condolences to the
family and friends of Richard Benda during this most difficult time and appreciates the public further
respecting these private family matters. If you have any additional questions please contact Sara Rabern at
605-773-3215.

Benda served as secretary of Tourism and State Development from 2006 to 2010 under former Gov. Mike Rounds.

The day after Benda’s funeral, according to the Associated Press, Gov. Dennis Daugaard acknowledged that an investigation was underway into the Governor’s Office of Economic Development involving possible financial misconduct prior to his administration. Daugaard said there has also been a federal investigation.

After leaving state government, Benda served as loan monitor for the Northern Beef Packers plant in Aberdeen, a project spurred by funds from the federal EB-5 immigration program. Northern Beef is now under federal bankruptcy protection.

The South Dakota Governor’s Office of Economic Development for years contracted with the privately held SDRC Inc. to administer the federal EB-5 program, in which foreign investors can secure permanent residency for as little as $500,000. The program helped fund several large projects in the state.




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