Business

Florida businessman agrees to pay more than $1 million to settle SEC EB-5 fraud charges

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Linus Unah – Fourth Estate Contributor

Washington, DC, United States (4E) – A Florida-based businessman has agreed to settle the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) charges that he misused investor funds intended to create U.S. jobs through a visa program.

Jason Adam Ogden, the CEO of Weston-based smoothie and yogurt franchises Juiceblendz and Yoblendz , agreed to repay $1 million in investor funds, plus $41,024 in interest and a $160,000 penalty.

The SEC alleged that Ogden formed AJN Investments LLC to conduct an investment offering in conjunction with the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program.

The visa program provides foreign investors a path to permanent residency when their investments create at least 10 jobs for American workers.

The SEC alleged that investors were told their money would help build and operate Juiceblendz and Yoblendz stores in strip malls and create a sufficient amount of jobs for them to qualify for an EB-5 visa and ultimately a green card.

However, the SEC’s complaint, said Ogden changed his business model halfway without updating the offering materials.

He went on to focus on developing kiosks in sports arenas and university campuses instead of constructing of full-size stores, according to the U.S. regulator.

The SEC said his actions resulted in “smaller-than-promised” returns for investors and jeopardized their EB-5 program status because “kiosks don’t stimulate the same job creation as full-size stores and construction projects.”

The SEC further alleged that Ogden diverted more than $1 million in investor funds for his personal use.

“As alleged in our complaint, jobs and green cards fell by the wayside as Ogden abruptly changed his business plan and diverted funds for his own benefit,” said Shamoil T. Shipchandler , director of the SEC’s Fort Worth regional office.

The SEC’s complaint, filed in a federal court in Florida, charges Ogden and AJN Investments with violating securities laws.

They agreed to settle the SEC’s charges without admitting or denying the allegations.

The settlement is subject to court approval.

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