Court rules South Dakota doesn't have to repay EB-5 investors
South Dakota's highest court has ruled the state does not need to repay a group of international investors who claimed fraud after an Aberdeen meat plant went bankrupt.
State Supreme Court justices unanimously upheld a lower court's ruling of the case, which involved the EB-5 immigrant investment program and the former Northern Beef plant in Aberdeen.
The EB-5 program is a federal program that grants green cards to foreign nationals who invest $500,000 into commercial projects, with the goal of luring investments to create jobs.
In this case, 35 Chinese nationals each invested $530,000 (which included $30,000 for expenses) into the beef plant through EB-5. When that plant went bankrupt in 2013, the investors sued the state of South Dakota to get their money back.
The defendants included several state government entities, including the Governor's Office of Economic Development and the Department of Tourism. The suit also named Joop Bollen, a former state employee who ran a consulting firm that helped administer the program.
On Wednesday, the South Dakota Supreme Court ruled in favor of the state, saying that the action was against the state, so "sovereign immunity" would apply. This immunity thus protects the state from the lawsuit.