...but probably lose green.
I noted that those attending the bankruptcy auction of the Veblen East Dairy last week included Terry N. Prendergast, representing the Hanul Professional Law Corporation. Hanul is the Korean law outfit that handles EB-5 visa applications for foreign investors participating in South Dakota Regional Center programs. That's the program through which rich foreigners can buy their green cards simply by dumping a half-million dollars or more into American job creation projects. Veblen East Dairy is one of several projects in South Dakota that has benefited from this investment program.
So I got to wondering: could any of those Korean investors be losing their green cards due to the failure of Richard Millner's Veblen operation?
I contacted Joop Bollen, president of the SDRC, to find out what's up with our Korean investors. Mr. Bollen says the Korean may have a fight on their hands to recoup their investment, but their green cards are safe.
All that matters to the EB-5 program is that the investors' money creates jobs within the first two years. Each investor's money needs to generate 10 jobs, direct or indirect. The EB-5 program calculates that one job on a dairy operation translates into 2.66 jobs in the local economy (hire one guy to shovel poop, and he goes to town to buy more beer and lumber, which generates enough economic activity for the bar and the lumberyard to hire 1.66 new people). Thus, if one Korean's $500,000 can be shown to create four actual dairy jobs, the EB-5 number crunchers apply that multiplier, declare 10.64 jobs created, and Uncle Sam erases the word "conditional" from the Korean's green card. Welcome to America!
The Veblen East Dairy satisfied the job creation criterion for all of its Korean investors before it declared bankruptcy. Most of the Korean investors have already received their permanent status. A few investors have applied for but not yet received approval of permanent status from the feds, but the bankruptcy proceedings and change of ownership have no impact on those remaining applications. It doesn't matter who owns the operation, as long as the jobs have been created. And as I understand Mr. Bollen's explanation, it wouldn't even matter if the new owners couldn't keep the dairy going and the whole operation collapsed. Once the EB-5 investors' money creates the necessary jobs (real and statistically assumed), their green cards are secure.
Not so secure are their greenbacks, which are what Mr. Prendergast was in the neighborhood last week to check on. Mr. Bollen's office isn't involved at all with the bankruptcy proceedings, but he says Hanul and the Korean investors are discussing how they might recoup their investment with the new owners' group organized by Richard Millner (that's Vista "Family" Dairies). The investors might well "have to take a haircut," says Bollen. I am encouraged, at least, to see that the Korean investors are still paying attention and trying to hold Millner and partners accountable for their cash.
Bonus Business: Vista "Family" Dairies has 30 days to get together the $23.1 million it bid for Veblen East. If Millner's minions can't convince their remaining friends to chip in for this latest Millner shell game, VFD loses the bid, and backup bidder Whetstone Valley Dairy gets Veblen East. According to the articles of organization filed last week with the Secretary of State, Whetstone Valley Dairy, LLC, is managed by Steve Myers and Michael Crinion of Brookings.
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