OHO Issues Decision Barring Jim Jinkook Seol over Undisclosed EB-5 Business

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FINRA's OHO concluded a year-long investigation into former Ameriprise Financial (Irvine, CA) broker Jim Jinkook Seol by issuing a decision barring Seol from the securities industry for engaging in an outside business activity and selling away to the tune of soliciting $100 million in investments; however, because Seol has opted to appeal this decision, his bar is held in abeyance pending the appeal.

OHO Disciplinary Proceeding, Decision #2014039839101

Investigators found that Seol (CRD #2876279) founded the business, Western Regional Center Incorporated (WRCI) to promote EB-5 visa interests, and then hid this outside business activity from Amerprise even though Seol himself was Secretary, CEO, and CFO of WRCI.

OHO's decision to bar Seol follows a 2016 complaint alleging Seol's $100 million-worth of undisclosed selling away misconduct. The 2016 complaint specified that Seol solicited investments in NextEra Energy Capital Holdings, Inc. and the Genesis Solar Energy Project, as well as proposed Yogurtland franchise development/immigrant jobs, in the furtherance of his portrayed EB-5 visa program.

WRCI, through Seol, purportedly entered into an agreement regarding a solar power plant under development in Riverside, California, through which WRCI investors could purchase limited partnership interests through loans to the power plant.

According to the documents, Seol solicited investments by telling investors they would make money by receiving a portion of annual interest collected from the loan, but did not disclose that in all likelihood, the annual interest received from the investment would be consumed by WRCI's "management fee."

For instance, Seol at one point drew a $9,000-per-month salary from his WRCI business activity.

Furthermore, because many of Seol's investors were foreign citizens of Asian countries, they purportedly sought to obtain United States visas through the EB-5 program, which requires visa-seekers to put a certain amount of "capital at risk for the purpose of generating a return."

Thus, even though Seol in his defense claimed that his EB-5 clients may not have cared much about WRCI's profit-making ability, immigration law actually requires EB-5 visa-seekers to expect to profit from their investment, which is an expectation further substantiated by the annual interest scheme Seol portrayed to WRCI investors.

Insofar as concealing his outside business activity is concerned, Seol purportedly made false statements on annual compliance questionnaires concerning outside businesses, and verbally misrepresented his activity to an Ameriprise supervisor. The findings also indicate that Ameriprise's compliance inspectors were unable to detect the presence of Seol's WRCI outside business activity.

Seol has elected to appeal the OHO hearing panel's decision to the National Adjudicatory Council, which effectively means he is not yet barred from the industry until NAC rules on his appeal, as sanctions are not in effect pending an appeal.

If you have invested with former Ameriprise Financial (Irvine, CA) broker Jim Jinkook Seol or with any representative or financial adviser whose involvement in an undisclosed outside business activity—and solicitation of investments in such unauthorized securities—has proven harmful to your investments or interests as the unregulated outside business turned unprofitable, please call The Law Offices of Jonathan W. Evans & Associates at (800) 699-1881 for an investigation and consultation.