Articles Tagged with puerto rico

Malecki Law is pleased to announce that a FINRA arbitration panel granted 28 expungements for three broker clients with customer complaints from their sale of Puerto Rican closed-end funds. The 28 expungements were granted as part of a FINRA arbitration award, the claim filed on behalf of nine Puerto Rico brokers against UBS; only three sought expungements. This winning result for our UBS Puerto Rico broker expungement case was detailed in an unusually long 40-page Award posted to the FINRA Dispute Resolution Portal yesterday.

Malecki Law filed this case in July 2015 and worked through the completion of discovery with a local PR lawyer, Benjamin Quinones Lebron Esq. before also teaming up with Harris, St. Laurent & Chaudhry LLP to try the numerous witness case in Puerto Rico. The FINRA arbitration claim filed on behalf of nine brokers, sought $30 million plus fees in addition to expungement. The monetary portion of the arbitration claim was resolved to the satisfaction of all parties. Only three of the nine brokers chose to move forward with expungement claims after the monetary portion was resolved.

The majority-public panel issued the award after considerable deliberation regarding the merits of the brokers’ request. In fact, the FINRA arbitration panel had a week of hearings, a time frame longer than usual. FINRA considers expungement to be an “extraordinary remedy” that should only be recommended in certain situations that do not compromise investor protection.

The investment fraud attorneys at Malecki Law are investigating potential claims by investors against Morgan Stanley stockbroker David H. Bindelglass.  According to his BrokerCheck report maintained by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”), Mr. Bindelglass, who works out of Morgan Stanley’s Paramus, New Jersey branch, has been the subject of at least three customer complaints.

Mr. Bindelglass is believed to have regularly recommended investments in Puerto Rican bonds to his clients.  It is believed that Mr. Bindelglass may have recommended such investments in high concentrations.  In high concentrations, even investments believed to be “safe” can be unsuitable and result in significant losses.  If a financial advisor recommends investments in a concentration that is unsuitable, the investor may be entitled to recover some or all of their losses.

According to FINRA records, since 2006, Mr. Bindelglass has been accused by at least three different customers of recommending unsuitable investments.  In each case, FINRA records indicate that those investors were able to recover for their losses.

A number of senior management with UBS Puerto Rico were terminated late last week, according to sources.  It is believed that individuals from marketing, investment banking, lending and other areas of the bank’s operations on the island were all let go. Read the recent report by Reuters on this here.

Consistent with industry custom, those who were let go were reportedly offered a severance package which they have roughly two to three weeks to accept or reject.  Since these packages are usually contingent upon a general release of liability (meaning that the individual cannot sue the firm), for those individuals who were offered packages, there are likely a number of factors that should be considered before deciding to accept or reject.  Once a general release is signed, virtually all claims for monetary damages that could have been brought before are then lost forever.

For anyone, being fired is a major life event.  For licensed professionals, being fired comes with the potential for an additional life-changing of having a mark on their license in connection with their termination.  If you are a licensed professional and are asked to sign an agreement, whether or not you have any intention of filing an action or any possibility of a FINRA U5 issue, it is always wise to seek the advice of a lawyer to learn about both your rights and what you might be giving up before you sign anything.  Once you sign, it is too late.  This is not the time to be “penny wise and pound foolish” – this is the time to consult with counsel to make informed decisions.  Many lawyers provide free consultations.

It was an eventful week at Malecki Law with prominent stories in the press, speaking engagements at legal educational organizations, appointments to bar association committees, and introduction to securities fraud in different communities.

Malecki Law announced the filing of a $25 million FINRA claim against UBS Puerto Rico on behalf of seven former UBS brokers, following a mass departure of brokers from UBS Puerto Rico. In the Statement of Claim filed with FINRA, the registered former UBS representatives allege that UBS management misled its brokers and customers, and threatened and pressured the brokers to sell the the Puerto Rican closed-end fund products. This news generated a lot of interest amongst the financial media and has appeared in over 30 prominent financial websites and blogs including Market Watch, The Street, and Caribbean Business News. Subsequently, this news announcement has generated a great deal of interest in the legal and financial professionals’ community.

Securities Fraud is not a problem isolated only to large cities like New York City.   Hard working people in towns and cities nationwide find themselves the victims of investment fraud every day from rural Texas to downtown Chicago.  Therefore, Malecki Law introduced a Communities section on their www.aboutsecuritieslaw.com website to make individuals around the country aware of historic and actively suspicious financial schemes.

The Wall Street Journal reported on July 2, 2015 that many investors may suffer losses as a result of the attempts by Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) to restructure its debt with its creditors in order to avoid a default and other Puerto Rico economic woes.

While clearly many investors are and will continue to be harmed in this market, the pain is likely to be harder felt by two sets of victims of UBS’s closed-end bond funds that are tied to debt issued by PREPA, other utilities and Puerto Rico’s general obligation bonds.

We recently wrote regarding how the brokers who recommend products such as UBS’s closed-end funds may have also been given faulty information from the firm.  Then, Reuters ran an article describing a taped meeting at UBS where leadership threatened the UBS Puerto Rico brokers to sell the closed-end funds at all costs despite growing concerns about the products.  In one of the first arbitration awards to be announced in which UBS was ordered to pay $1 million to an investor related to the UBS closed-end bond funds, a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) arbitrator stated that a recommendation of the bond fund was unsuitable because it was “grossly overconcentrated… any proper UBS branch office or other review should have detected such obvious unsuitability.”