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An association of companies linked to Bill Gates is investigated for the purchase of several plots of land in the USA.

Published: 23 Jun 2022 10:37 GMT

The North Dakota (USA) attorney general’s office has opened an investigation into Red River Trust, a partnership of companies linked to US philanthropist Bill Gates, for the acquisition of several pieces of land, Agweek magazine reported Wednesday.

Last November, Red River Trust reached an agreement for 13.5 million dollars with Campbell Farms, a prominent farming family, to acquire around 850 hectares of land located in Pembina and Walsh counties, in the aforementioned state.

Through a letter dated June 21, 2022, the partnership was notified that corporations or limited liability companies (LLCs) are prohibited from owning or leasing farmland or ranches in North Dakota, as well as engaging in farming or ranching.

The state’s Limited Liability Company or Corporate Farm Law states that North Dakota county recorders must provide a copy of a deed to the attorney general if that recorded deed “conveys ownership of farmland or ranchland to a corporation or LLC.”

What could happen?

“Our office needs to confirm how your company uses this land and if this use complies with any of the legal exceptions, such as the commercial purpose exception, so that we can close this case and file it,” reads the letter.

Likewise, that state’s attorney general’s office indicates they have 30 days to provide a response, detailing that, should Red River Trust be shown to have broken the law, they have up to a year to sell the land in question or face a fine of up to $100,000.

In September 2018, a federal district court interpreted that legislation as preventing out-of-state family farm corporations from owning land in North Dakota, but a year later a federal court found this to be unconstitutional and forced the state to pay $175,000 to those affected.

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