Dispute involving Schwan foundation before state high court

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) – The South Dakota Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments next week in a dispute involving the charitable foundation established by the late frozen food magnate Marvin Schwan.

His sons, Mark and Paul Schwan, sit on a committee that reviews the administration of the Marvin M. Schwan Charitable Foundation. They contend that the foundation has lost as much as $600 million in off-shore real estate ventures, and they want more details.

Other committee members, including some who also serve as foundation trustees, have blocked their efforts, the Argus Leader newspaper reported.

In court documents, the foundation and its trustees acknowledge the losses, saying they are “working diligently with professional advisers to wind down these investments and minimize losses.”

The foundation also argues that it provided the oversight committee with detailed information about the losses, including audited financial statements.

The dispute over the foundation also involves the state attorney general’s office, which has the authority under state law to enforce the conditions of a charitable trust. Attorney General Marty Jackley declined to talk specifically about the Schwan case but said his office has assigned two lawyers to it.

Marvin Schwan created Schwan’s Sales Enterprises as a milk processing facility in Marshall, Minnesota, in 1948. The business grew to become a leading retail and food delivery business. Schwan, who lived in Sioux Falls, died in 1993 at age 64 after suffering a heart attack. At the time of his death, Forbes magazine ranked him as the country’s 70th richest man, worth more than $1 billion.