The head of a visa-investor operation in South Dakota pleaded guilty to illegally diverting funds, giving another black eye to the scandal-plagued EB-5 immigration program.
Watchdog.org reported on financial problems involving the South Dakota Regional Center three years ago, including bankruptcies and the auctioning of a $100 million slaughterhouse for $4.7 million.
The projects were funded largely by wealthy foreign nationals who invested a minimum of $500,000 in reputedly job-creating ventures to obtain U.S. green cards through the federal EB-5 program. Regional centers like the SDRC collect and disburse the money with approval from theU.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Joop Bollen, 53, pleaded guilty to one felony count of illegally diverting funds from the SDRC. He was accused of funneling $1.2 million from a state account.
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