Tuesday, May 1, 2012
The SEC charged UBS Financial Services Inc. of Puerto Rico and two executives with making misleading statements to investors, concealing a liquidity crisis, and masking its control of the secondary market for 23 proprietary closed-end mutual funds. UBS Puerto Rico agreed to settle the SEC’s charges by paying $26.6 million that will be placed into a fund for harmed investors.
According to the SEC’s order instituting settled administrative proceedings against UBS Puerto Rico, the firm knew about a significant “supply and demand imbalance” and discussed the “weak secondary market” internally. However, UBS Puerto Rico misled investors and failed to disclose that it controlled the secondary market, where investors sought to sell their shares in the funds. UBS Puerto Rico significantly increased its inventory holdings in the closed-end funds in order to prop up market prices, bolster liquidity, and promote the appearance of a stable market. However, UBS Puerto Rico later withdrew its market price and liquidity support in order to sell 75 percent of its closed-end fund inventory to unsuspecting investors.
The SEC instituted contested administrative proceedings against UBS Puerto Rico’s vice chairman and former CEO Miguel A. Ferrer and its head of capital markets Carlos J. Ortiz.