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.