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Jim Jinkook Seol, of Irvine, California, a stockbroker with Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc., was charged by Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Department of Enforcement in a Complaint alleging Seol engaged in unauthorized outside business activities, private securities transactions, and made false statements to his firm concerning his conduct. Department of Enforcement v. Seol, No. 201403983910101 (May 31, 2016).
According to the Complaint, in September 2011, at a time when Seol was associated with Ameriprise Financial Services, he created Western Regional Center, Inc., and held the title of president and chief executive officer. The Complaint stated that Seol subsequently presented investors with the opportunity to invest in California Energy Investment Fund, LP. The Complaint further stated that the Fund was designed to qualify as an investment facility through the United States Citizen and Immigration Services’ sponsored EB-5 program.
According to the Complaint, Seol convinced two hundred foreign nationals to invest $100,000,000.00 in the aforementioned Fund. The Complaint stated that Seol actively participated in the transactions through facilitating agreements and presenting the investment opportunity to foreign entities for purposes of obtaining investors; soliciting investors directly by presenting investors with information regarding the companies (Genesis Solar Energy Project and NextEra Energy Capital Holdings, Inc.); and disseminating offering documentation to prospective investors, and facilitating partnership and subscription agreements accordingly.
FINRA alleged in the Complaint that Ameriprise was never notified by Seol of his creation of Western Regional Center, Inc., nor was Ameriprise notified of the creation of California Energy Investment Fund, LP. Apparently, Seol represented to Ameriprise in three compliance questionnaires that all outside business activities were disclosed, when this was not the case. Seol, according to the Complaint, also attested that he would follow Ameriprise’s supervisory procedures concerning outside business activities and private securities transactions.
FINRA alleged that Seol’s aforementioned participation in private securities transactions was violative of FINRA Rule 2010 and NASD Rule 3040, as Seol failed to notify his firm in writing and gain the requisite approval concerning such transactions prior to engaging in them. FINRA also alleged that Seol’s failure to disclose outside business activities to Ameriprise was violative of FINRA Rules 2010 and 3270. Finally, FINRA alleged that Seol’s false statements to Ameriprise concerning his business activities was violative of FINRA Rule 2010.
Public disclosure records reveal that Seol has been subject to seven disclosure incidents. On July 22, 2003, Seol was named in a customer dispute in which a customer requested damages of $42,153.55 after claiming misrepresentations concerning annuity contracts. On September 24, 2003, Seol was named in another customer dispute, where a customer requested $13,419.44 after alleging unsuitable recommendations were made.
On April 9, 2004, Seol became subject to a customer dispute, in which a customer requested $332,579.84 after alleging unsuitably and misrepresentations. On July 9, 2004, Seol settled a customer dispute for $500,000.00 amid allegations of unsuitable recommendations concerning high risk mutual funds and an insurance policy. Ameriprise terminated Seol on May 28, 2014, amid allegations of company policy violations and undisclosed outside business activities.
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