FINRA Charges Jim Seol with Unauthorized WRCI, EB-5 Immigration Outside Business Activity

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FINRA charged Jim Jinkook Seol, formerly of Ameriprise Financial Services' Irvine, CA branch, with engaging in outside business activities and participating in private securities transactions by selling away from, and without providing notice to Ameriprise.

The findings state that Seol (CRD #2876279) formed the California corporation Western Regional Center, Inc. (WRCI) and, through that entity, solicited investments in California Energy Investment Fund I, LP (the CEIFI Partnership), which served as a qualifying investment facility under the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services' Employment Based "EB-5" program and in, through YL Partners, Inc, agreed to fund and create Yogurtland franchises and jobs for immigrants.

OHO Disciplinary Proceeding #2014039839101

Investigators found that Seol sold a total of $100 million away from Ameriprise and in CEIFI, making a series of presentations to and agreements with foreign migration companies and law firms to help identify potential investors, which Seol directly solicited by giving presentations about NextEra Energy Capital Holdings, Inc. and the Genesis Solar Energy Project, which FINRA says were proposed recipients of the investment funds.

The findings indicate that Seol advertised that each investment would create "no fewer than ten (10) direct and/or indirect jobs per EB-5 investor in order to permit investors to qualify for immigration to the United States."

Offering Memorandum in CEIFI advised investors of certain risks, including suitability "only for investors who do not need liquidity...and who can afford the loss of their entire investment," noting that the Genesis Project may "earn returns below market for similar investments."

The report indicates that Seol did not disclose any of this—not his creation and incorporation of Western Regional Center/WRCI, the investment solicitation and recommendation in CEIFI, proposed Yogurtland franchise developments/immigrant jobs, nor the NextEra and Genesis Solar Energy presentations—to Ameriprise, and falsely attested on multiple annual questionnaires that outside business activities such as these did not exist.

The findings state that as of March 2016, WRCI, for instance, received a total of $60,000 in compensation for its consulting services to YL Partners, and used these funds, in part, to pay Seol's own salary.

Seol's BrokerCheck report indicates several previous disclosures, the most recent of which was Ameriprise's termination of Seol's registration for "violation of company policy related to an undisclosed outside business activity."

If you have invested with former Ameriprise Financial broker Jim Jinook Seol of Southern California, or with any broker or financial adviser whose solicitation, recommendation and sales of a security outside of the scope of their registration and association with a FINRA-member firm has proven harmful to your investments or interests, please call The Law Offices of Jonathan W. Evans & Associates at (800) 699-1881 for an investigation and consultation.