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FINRA Bars Ex-Ameriprise Rep Jim Seol

Jim Seol

Panel Bars Jim Seol for Failing to Disclose $100 Million in EB-5 Investments

According to The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), a FINRA hearing panel barred an Irvine, California-based registered representative, Jim Seol, for participating in private securities transactions, engaging in undisclosed outside business activities, and for making misrepresentations to his employer in compliance questionnaires.

The hearing panel found that Seol allegedly sold $100 million in EB-5 investments promoted through his private business, Western Regional Center Incorporated (WRCI) but did not disclose the activity to his employing firm, Ameriprise Financial Services.

FINRA alleges in September 2011, Seol formed WRCI to market U.S. investments to overseas investors through the U.S. government’s EB-5 program. The EB-5 program permits foreign investors to obtain a U.S. visa in exchange for investing in projects that create U.S. jobs. After identifying a potential investment opportunity for WRCI involving a solar energy power plant in Riverside, California, Seol allegedly traveled to South Korea and China to market the investments to foreign migration companies and attorneys.

The hearing panel found that from 2012 to 2014, Seol intentionally concealed his WRCI activities from his employing firm in multiple instances by repeatedly lying to his supervisor and the compliance examiner that he had “no outside business activities, no outside employment, no outside board memberships, and no ownership interest in any legal entities.”

As noted in the decision, by the end of 2013, the offering was fully subscribed with all partnership units sold to 200 different investors contributing $500,000 each, totaling $100 million. WRCI earned a management fee from the offering that generated $736,000 per year.

Seol is barred from associating with any member firm in any capacity for participating in private securities transactions and engaging in outside business activities without prior written notice to his member firm employer.

According to FINRA, Jim Seol has eight disclosures listed on his Broker Check Report, including five customer disputes. He was registered with Ameriprise Financial Services in Irvine, CA from 06/11/1997 until 06/04/2014, when he was discharged for “violation of company policy related to an undisclosed outside business activity.”

For FINRA’s full findings see FINRA Case number 2014039839101.

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