Articles Tagged with UBS

shutterstock_103681238The law offices of Gana Weinstein LLP are announcing their investigation into potential securities claims against brokerage firms over sales practices related to the recommendation of exchange traded notes (ETNs) and other structured notes linked to oil & gas and commodities. These products are issued by UBS (NYSE:UBS) under the name ETRACS.

List of Commodity and Oil & Gas releated ETNs

Symbol           Fund Name

shutterstock_26269225The law offices of Gana Weinstein LLP are announcing their investigation into potential securities claims against brokerage firms over sales practices related to the recommendation of structured notes linked to oil & gas. These structured products are issued by Barclays (NYSE:BCS), Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS), Deutsche Bank (NYSE:DB), UBS (NYSE:UBS), Citigroup (NYSE:C), Bank of America Merrill Lynch (NYSE:BAC), JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM), Credit Suisse (NYSE:CS), and BNP Paribas among others firms. The structured notes are issued under the names Principal Protected Notes, Principal Protected Booster Notes, Buffered Bullish Notes, Accelerated Return Notes, Strategic Return Notes, Capped Leverage Return Notes, Target Term Securities, Market Linked Notes, E-Tracs, Return Optimization Notes, Auto-Callable Securities, Performance Leveraged Upside Securities (PLUS), and Equity Linked Securities (ELKs).

Brokers often pitch structured products as providing “downside protection” against losses to a related index while allowing modest up side gain potential. However, today investors are waking up to the fact that structured products linked to the oil market are offering no protection. According to Bloomberg, retail structured notes meant to protect against a drop in crude failed to do so. Of the $437.1 million in oil related structured products that have matured this year, 44 percent, or $194.3 million of principal has been lost. The largest deal in the oil space is a $104.6 million Barclays issuance in April 2014 that has lost 42 percent of its value.

Indeed, Bloomberg found that all but three of the 39 notes examined protected against a certain percentage of losses, typically in the range of 10 percent to 20 percent. These notes quickly breached these loss limits as crude oil prices have declined more than 60 percent. Once the securities breached the “soft barriers” investors became exposed to the full loss at maturity and the value of the notes became wholly dependent on the change in oil prices.

shutterstock_185860337A FINRA arbitration panel in San Juan found UBS Financial Services, Inc., and UBS Financial Services Inc. of Puerto Rico liable to Juan Burgos Rosado. The arbitration panel held that UBS must buy back Rosado’s Puerto Rico bond fund portfolio for $1 million.  Rosado invested approximately $737,000 in the UBS closed-end bond funds within four years of opening his accounts in 2011.  In a lengthy ruling by the arbitration panel included several findings of facts, including:

  • We find that, at the time Claimant first invested (2011), the market for these CEFs, being limited to residents of Puerto Rico, was necessarily thin; that it had been to a large extent saturated and liquidity was limited
  • UBS, though not required to do so, had essentially made a market until it determined to reduce its inventory of CEFs

shutterstock_150746According to the BrokerCheck records kept by Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) broker David Honingstock (Honingstock) has been the subject of at least two customer complaints, two financial disclosures, and three judgments and/or liens. The customer complaints against Honingstock allege a number of securities law violations including that the broker made unsuitable investments, breach of fiduciary duty, misrepresentations and false statements, among other claims

In addition to these claims, Honingstock declared bankruptcy in October 2014 in New York. In addition, Honingstock former brokerage firm, Morgan Stanley, initiated an action against the broker alleging a debt of $1,635,123 owed to the firm that in a compromise settlement was reduced to $218,000. Honingstock has several other debts listed on his disclosures including a hospital bill from 2013, and a New York State Tax lien for over $17,000. A broker’s inability to manage his own finances or having trouble making ends meet may suffer from potential conflicts of interests in making recommendations to his clients.

Honingstock entered the securities industry in 1986. From January 2003, until May 2007, Honingstock was registered with UBS Financial Services, Inc. (UBS). Upon leaving from UBS, from May 2007, through June 2009, Honingstock was associated with Citigroup Global Markets Inc. (Citigroup). From there, Honingstock was associated with Morgan Stanley Smith Barney form June 2009, until December 2009. Finally, Honingstock has been registered with Citigroup since 2013.

shutterstock_88744093According to the BrokerCheck records kept by Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) broker Robert Delguercio (Delguercio) has been the subject of at least eight customer complaints, two financial matters, and one employment separation. The customer complaints against Delguercio allege a number of securities law violations including that the broker made unsuitable investments, unauthorized activity, negligence, fraud, and misrepresentations among other claims.

One customer complaint filed in September 2013, alleged that from February 2007, through February 2012, that Delguercio made unauthorized transfers of funds from her account and the claimant’s now deceased husband and alleging $10,400,000 in damages. Another complaint filed in May 2012, alleged that Delguercio made unauthorized transactions and liquidations in the customers accounts leading to claims of over $1.2 million.  After reading an earlier version of this article Mr. Delguercio reached out to our firm to comment stating that the woman in above arbitration provided a power of attorney to her husband and denies the charges made in the complaint.  Mr. Delguercio stated that he expects that his position will be vindicated in a future arbitration hearing on this matter.

Delguercio entered the securities industry in 1995. From 2004, until January 2010, Delguercio was registered with PNC Investments (PNC). Upon termination from PNC the firm filed a Uniform Termination form (Form U5) stating that the reason for the firm’s termination of Delguercio was due to allegations by the firm that Delguercio received a verbal complaint from a customer alleging that Delguercio misrepresented a GNMA Bond. PNC then reviewed the complaint and Delguercio resigned at that time. Delguercio disputes PNC’s account of events. Thereafter, from December 2009, through February 2012, Delguercio was associated with UBS Financial Services Inc. Finally, Delguercio has been a registered representative with Herbert J. Sims & Co. Inc. since February 2012.

shutterstock_178801082According to broker Adamson Wright’s (Wright) Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) BrokerCheck records the representative was recently sanctioned concerning allegations that from May 2010 through February 2011, he effected approximately 249 mismarked order tickets as being “unsolicited” orders when the trades were “solicited” causing the firm to maintain inaccurate books and records.

Respondent Wright entered the securities industry in 1995 with UBS Financial Services Inc. until January 2010. In January 2010, Wright became registered with Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. (Ameriprise) and then was terminated from Ameriprise in June 2011. In July 2011, Wright became registered with InterCarolina Financial Services Inc.

In addition, at least five customer complaints have been filed against Wright alleging unsuitable investments and unauthorized discretionary trading. These complaints include allegations involving unsuitable options trading. Two clients alleged an unsuitable purchase of China Agritech (CAGC). The number of complaints made by investors against Wright is relatively large by industry standards. According to InvestmentNews, only about 12% of financial advisors have any type of disclosure event on their records. Far fewer brokers have multiple customer complaints approaching the number of complaints made against Wright. Brokers must disclose different types of events, not necessarily all of which are customer complaints. These disclosures can include IRS tax liens, judgments, and even criminal matters.

shutterstock_175320083The investor advocacy bar association PIABA (the Public Investors Arbitration Bar Association) has recently issued a report called “Major Investor Losses Due to Conflicted Advice: Brokerage Industry Advertising Creates the Illusion of Fiduciary Duty.” The PIABA report argues that the brokerage industry uses false advertising to convey to investors that the firms have a fiduciary duty to their clients only then to do a 180 turn when sued to claim that no such duty exists.

According to the report, some of the largest firms in the United States are falsely advertise in this fashion including Merrill Lynch, Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley, UBS, Fidelity, Ameriprise, Allstate Financial, Berthel Fisher, and Charles Schwab. The report claimed that all of these firms “advertise in a fashion that is designed to lull investors into the belief that they are being offered the services of a fiduciary.”

In the wake of the financial crisis of 2008, the Dodd-Frank legislation authorized the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) to pass a fiduciary duty rule that would apply to brokers, as opposed to only financial advisors. Most investors do not realize and are usually shocked to learn that there broker only has an obligation to recommend “suitable” investments, and not to work in their client’s best interests. Currently, the fiduciary duty rule only applies to financial advisors (and brokers under certain circumstances).

shutterstock_26269225This is the second regulatory action that our firm has tracked concerning brokerage firms recommending concentrated positions in Puerto Rico bond funds without having appropriate supervisory system and procedures designed to identify and review concentrated securities purchases in Puerto Rico closed-end funds.

As we reported, The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) sanctioned Popular Securities, Inc. (Popular Securities) alleging between July 1, 2011, and June 30, 2013, Popular failed to establish and enforce a supervisory system and procedures designed to identify and review concentrated securities purchases in Puerto Rico municipal bonds and Puerto Rico closed-end funds. Now in a similar action, FINRA alleged that between July 1, 2011, and June 30, 2013, Oriental Financial Services Corp. (Oriental) failed to establish, maintain, and enforce, supervisory systems and procedures to identify and review concentrated securities purchases in Puerto Rico municipal bonds and Puerto Rico closed-end bond funds.

Oriental has been a F]NRA member since 1993 and is a subsidiary of OFG Bancorp. Oriental operates out of headquarters in San Juan, Puerto Rico and engages in a general securities business that focuses on Puerto Rico municipal securities and open and closed-end mutual funds. Oriental has 50 brokers located in 12 branch offices.

shutterstock_92699377As our firm has written about on numerous occasions, our firm is currently representing investors who purchased the UBS Puerto Rico closed-end-bond funds and other Puerto Rico municipal debt. The allegations our firm has brought on behalf of clients focuses on UBS’ sales tactics and recommendations to its customers to invest in 23 proprietary closed-end funds. The UBS Puerto Rico bond funds contained substantial risks that allegedly were downplayed by the firm’s advisors in order to generate sales. The funds’ risks included excessive amount of leverage, conflicts of interests, and omission of material information concerning the risky nature of certain of the funds’ holdings.

Many of our clients tell very similar tales about how they were recommended to invest as much as 100% of their portfolios in the UBS Puerto Rico closed-end funds, some through additional margin or bank loans. Now, thanks to an article published by Reuters, Puerto Rico bond fund investors are starting to learn why.

According to the article, a group of brokers came up with a list of 22 reasons why they wanted to stop selling the funds including the facts that the funds suffered from low liquidity, excessive leverage, oversupply and instability, and contained debt underwritten by UBS, a conflict of interests.

shutterstock_12144202The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) sanctioned and barred broker David Lavine (Lavine) concerning allegations that Lavine engage in private securities transactions also known as “selling away.” FINRA Rule 8210 authorizes the regulator to require persons associated with a FINRA member to provide information with respect to any matter involved in the investigation.

In October 2014, FINRA alleged that it pursued an investigation into allegations that Lavine (i) exceeded the scope of an approved outside business activity and potentially engaged in an unapproved private securities transaction; and (ii) failed to timely disclose several reportable financial events. FINRA requested that Lavine provide documents and information on or before November 14, 2014. On December 2, 2014, FINRA stated that Lavine, through his counsel, requested an extension of time to respond but ultimately failed to provide the responsive documents and information and informed FINRA that he would not provide information at any time.

According to Lavine’s brokercheck his disclosed outside business activities include Angel Flight South Central and LAKAP, LLC. It is unclear at this time if FINRA’s investigation concerned Lavine’s participation in these enterprises.

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