The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that an Idaho man has agreed to pay back several million dollars he siphoned away for personal use rather than investing it as promised to create U.S. jobs through the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program.
The SEC alleges that Serofim Muroff raised more than $140.5 million in EB-5 offerings to Chinese investors through his companies Blackhawk Manager and ISR Capital for the intended purposes of acquiring and developing luxury real estate in McCall, Idaho, and investing in gold mining ventures in Idaho and Montana. Muroff allegedly misappropriated more than $5 million in investor funds for such unrelated uses as an investment in a zip line operation as well as his purchase of two personal residences, a Range Rover, and a BMW.
“As alleged in our complaint, Muroff secretly enriched himself with millions of dollars in EB-5 investor funds that should have gone into job-creating enterprises,” said Jina L. Choi, Director of the SEC’s San Francisco Regional Office.
In the settlement, which is subject to court approval, Muroff and his companies agreed to pay disgorgement of $5,062,082 plus interest totaling $865,270 and a penalty of $2 million. Muroff also agreed to be prohibited from conducting EB-5 offerings, acting as an officer or director of a public company, and associating with any investment adviser. Muroff’s bookkeeper and administrative assistant Debra L. Riddle, who was charged in the SEC’s complaint along with Muroff and his companies, agreed to pay disgorgement of $503,417 plus interest totaling $81,626 and a penalty of $100,000. They neither admitted nor denied the allegations in the SEC’s complaint.
The SEC’s investigation was conducted by Alice Liu Jensen, Rahul Kolhatkar, and Ellen Chen of the San Francisco office, and the case was supervised by Steven D. Buchholz. The SEC appreciates the assistance of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.