EB-5 audit seeks answers - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

EB-5 audit seeks answers

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The South Dakota Legislature may end up taking action on the issues surrounding the EB-5 program.

More than half a million dollars of the states Future Fund grant money was improperly diverted from Northern Beef Packers construction to the SDRC, a private EB-5 center, in Aberdeen.

South Dakota is one of the very few states to contract with a private EB-5 regional center.

Representative Kathy Tyler (D-Big Stone City) has been listening to concerns over the EB-5 visa program and the Northern Beef Packers bankruptcy for a couple months. Now she wants lawmakers to take action.

"We're looking at probably 50 to 100 million dollars of money that is not accounted for," said Rep. Kathy Tyler, "Where did it go?"

Three projects under the state's supervision have filed for bankruptcy resulting in millions of dollars being lost by investors. The biggest loss was from Northern Beef Packers with a listing of $138 million in liabilities.

"Yes, it's a lot of money. Yes, there are a lot of issues," said Rep. Tyler, "There's been very little, of any, state oversight of the program, even though by contract the state has an obligation to oversee the entire EB-5 program and any projects associated with it."

By contract, the state was ultimately responsible for total oversight of the EB-5 program. In Attorney General Marty Jackley's state investigation of travel vouchers, he found $550,000 stolen from the taxpayers, and we still don't know who did it.

"That's only the beginning. The EB-5 program, SDRC Inc., and its projects haven't been touched yet," said Rep. Tyler.

That is why Rep. Tyler is petitioning for a special session of the South Dakota Legislature on December 30th to authorize and appropriate funds for an independent forensic audit of the Governors Office of Economic Development.

"This is the only way were ever going to find out, where did it go?" said Rep. Tyler, "You look at the session and something as important as this could get put on the back burner and it can't be. This is something that needs to have its own time. We need to spend special time with this where we can take a day and sit down and talk about the entire thing without having to worry about other legislative issues."

2/3 of the legislators need to sign the petition before it can be presented to leadership and have a special session called. Petitions must be returned to the legislative research council office by December 10th.

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