Articles Tagged with Puerto Rico Bond Funds

Texas-Based Brokerage Firm Accused of Overconcentration & Supervisory Failures

NEXT Financial Group has arrived at a $750K settlement with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) to resolve claims that the Texas-based broker-dealer overconcentrated customer accounts in Puerto Rico municipal bonds and did not have the kind of supervisory system that could have identified unsuitable trades. 

The self-regulatory organization (SRO) also contends that from January 2012 to February 2019 NEXT Financial Group did not set up, maintain, or enforce supervisory systems and written procedures that could have identified and stopped the short-term trading of Puerto Rico bonds and mutual funds when they were unsuitable for customers. 

UBS Loses Another Puerto Rico Bonds & Closed-End Fund Case

More than six years after thousands of investors lost many millions of dollars from investing in Puerto Rico bonds and closed-end bond funds, UBS Puerto Rico (UBS-PR) is still being held to account for the financial losses faced by many of its clients. 

This includes one claimant who was recently awarded over $150,000 in compensation plus interest, other costs, and fees in her Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) arbitration case against the firm.  

UBS Group Fined $51M By Hong Kong Securities Regulator

The Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) is ordering UBS Group AG (UBS) to pay a $51M fine for overcharging clients between 2008 and 2017. It is also ordering the Swiss banking giant to pay more than $25M in compensation to customers that were harmed. 

According to the Hong Kong regulator, about 5,000 clients paid more than they should have in approximately 28,700 transactions. This happened after UBS advisors and assistants added padding to spreads involving bonds, as well as structured note trades and charging extra fees. UBS Group is accused of not disclosing to clients that they were paying these fees. 

Four years after Puerto Rico brought to market what became its biggest and final issuance of junk bonds, a 600-page report by disputes and investigative international law firm Kobre & Kim suggests that Banco Popular de Puerto Rico (BPPR) could potentially be held liable for losses related to the issuance. The findings are part of the efforts of the U.S. territory’s Financial Oversight and Management Board to look into what caused the island’s current financial crisis. To date, Puerto Rico remains in over $120 billion in debt as a result of bond issuances and pension liabilities. Thousands of investors continue to file Puerto Rico bond fraud and closed-end bond fund claims to recover their losses sustained when the securities plunged in value in 2013.

According to Kobe & Kim’s findings, while initially both Citigroup (C) and Banco Popular cautioned against yet another junk bond issuance in the wake of the financial challenges Puerto Rico was facing at the time, Banco Popular became part of the syndicate of banks that participated in the $3.5B issuance, profiting in the process. The report indicates, while making clear that the findings are not legal advice, that Banco Popular could potentially be held liable for claim and repayments related to Puerto Rico’s bankruptcy process. Kobe & Kim’s findings are primarily related to a memo that Citigroup and Banco Popular sent to then-Government Development Bank President David Chafey, which included that they did not think the bond issuance was a good idea.

Still, both banks proposed providing instant liquidity backed by taxes in return for the Puerto Rico government approving a balanced budget law, an additional financial control law, and a supervisory group with members appointed by the U.S. Treasury and the Federal Reserve. Citigroup eventually opted not to take part in the bond issuance.

Assured Guaranty has filed a lawsuit against Puerto Rico for the second time.  The bond insurance company, which insures about $5 billion of Puerto Rico bonds, wants a federal court to decide that the U.S. territory’s latest fiscal plan to revive it from financial bankruptcy “invalid.”

Also named a defendant in the lawsuit is the fiscal oversight board that was  federally appointed to help the island recover from the over $70 billion of debt that it owes. Assured had filed a similar complaint against Puerto Rico prior to Hurricane Maria’s arrival in September, but it withdrew the lawsuit after the storm.

Now, however, the bond insurer is contending that the fiscal plan, which establishes future economic projections for the U.S. territory, was developed without consulting creditors. The plan estimates about $6.05 billion of debt service capacity over six years, which is a sign that creditors should expect significant reductions to their repayments.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. announced that The Office of the Commissioner of Financial Institutions of Puerto Rico has shut down Doral Bank in San Juan. The FDIC is now the bank’s receiver. Many investors have lost money through the Puerto Rico Conservation Trust Fund.

Banco Popular de Puerto Rico has now purchased $3.25 billion of Doral’s assets to acquire the defunct bank’s operations, including its deposits. A day after Doral shuttered its doors, 26 of its former branches reopened. Eight of them are now run by Banco Popular (OTCMKTS: BPESY), which resold the other 18 branches and their deposits to FirstBank Puerto Rico, Banco Popular North America, and Centennial Bank. The latter two now run Doral’s U.S. branches.

Doral Bank had approximately $5.9 billion in overall assets and $4.1 billion in deposits ending in 2014. Regulators determined that it was “critically under-capitalized.” After the FDIC notified the bank that it wouldn’t be able to use a $229 million tax refund for its Tier 1 capital, it was unable to raise more capital.

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