Articles Posted in Closed-End Funds

In the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) Puerto Rico bond fraud case against ex-UBS Puerto Rico broker Jose Ramirez, a federal judge has found that Ramirez committed fraud and was in violation of securities laws when he directed customers to use lines of credit to purchase Puerto Rico closed-end funds.  In 2015, the SEC had filed charges against Ramirez accusing him of misleading customers regarding the Puerto Rico closed-end funds while advising them to use money from UBS Bank USA credit lines to buy UBS Puerto Rico fund shares. Ramirez allegedly made an additional $2.8 million in commissions as a result. The brokerage firm fired Mr. Ramirez in 2014.

According to U.S. District Court Judge Pedro Delgado-Hernandez, who granted the SEC’s motion for summary judgment, the ex-UBS Puerto Rick broker lied to customers and failed to tell them that if their collateral went down in value and reached a certain point, the customers might need to have their accounts liquidated to pay back the loans.

In 2013, following a number of credit downgrades, the Puerto Rico closed-end funds saw a substantial drop in value.  By September 2013, more than three dozen of Ramirez’s customers had $37 million in “margin maintenance calls” that required many clients to have their accounts liquidated.

If you are an investor who is thinking of backing a closed-end fund, it is important that you understand what this type of fund is and what are its accompanying risks before you decide to invest. While closed-end funds have been known to pay off-their high distribution rate is one of the features that make these products so popular-the losses can be substantial especially if your portfolio can’t handle them.

Closed-End Funds: What Are They?

These funds are a kind of investment company that gets money from investors to purchase securities. Closed-end funds are like mutual funds in that they manage portfolios that include investments, such as stocks, bonds, and even illiquid securities. However, they differ from mutual funds in that in an initial IPO, closed-end funds will offer a set number of shares to be traded on the exchange.

Even though it’s been awhile the auction-rate securities market froze in 2008, credit-ratings firm Fitch Ratings’s new report says that US closed-end funds still hold $26.4 billion in auction-rate preferred shares (ARPS). Researchers say that even though this figure is a 57% drop from the $61.8 billion that was trapped in ARS in January 2008 they are still surprised by the current amount.

While ARPS holders have obtained liquidity through many redemptions, there is still a significant amount that is outstanding. Fitch says that 61% (250) of closed-end funds continue to be leveraged with auction-rate preferred shares. This is down from the 347 in January 2008. Fitch’s report is based on a review of 437 US closed-end funds’ publicly available financial statements.

Since the ARS market collapse in February 2008, closed-end funds have redeemed shares at par value via refinancing or by lowering the funds’ leverage. Still others have offered to purchase the shares at below par value. 22% of the funds that Fitch reviewed has fully redeemed about $22.9 billion in ARPS, while 50% undertook partial redemptions of shares totaling $12.7 billion.

Eaton Vance Management says that five of the closed-end management investment companies that it advises have each received a demand letter on behalf of a putative common shareholder of the “Trusts” alleging breach of fiduciary duty related to the redemption of auction preferred securities after the auction markets failed in February 2008.

The “Trusts”:
• Eaton Vance Floating-Rate Income Trust (NYSE:EFR – News)
• Eaton Vance Tax-Advantaged Global Dividend Income Fund (NYSE:ETG – News)
• Eaton Vance Limited Duration Income Fund (NYSE Amex: EVV)
• Eaton Vance Insured Municipal Bond Fund (NYSE Amex: EIM)
• Eaton Vance New Jersey Municipal Income Trust (NYSE Amex: EVJ)

The letters seeks to have the Trusts’ Board of Trustees take certain steps to remedy the alleged breaches of duty. Eaton Vance Management is an Eaton Vance Corp. subsidiary.

Also, purported class action complaints have been filed against ETG and EVV on behalf of a putative common shareholder of each Trust. The securities lawsuits are claiming breach of fiduciary duty related to the redemption of auction preferred securities. Eaton Vance Management, Eaton Vance Corp., and the Trustees of the Trusts also are defendants. Eaton Vance provides institutional and individual investors with a wide range of wealth management solutions and investment strategies.

Our securities fraud lawyers represent institutional investors throughout the US. We are here to help you recoup your investment losses.

Related Web Resources:

Institutional Investors, Eaton Vance

Closed-End Management Company, Investopedia

Read our Stockbroker Fraud Blog

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