The following article was originally published by Caribbean News Now.
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Two subsidiaries of Swiss bank UBS have been ordered to pay several investors in Puerto Rico over $25 million by two FINRA arbitration panels for losses the investors suffered in Puerto Rico bonds and UBS’s closed-end Puerto Rico bond funds.
In one case, the arbitration panel ordered UBS Financial Services Inc. and UBS Financial Services of Puerto Rico to pay the investors over $9 million, and in the other case the paneled issued an award for more than $15 million.
These investors claimed UBS improperly invested their money into UBS bond funds. These funds, which were not traded on any exchange, were typically leveraged two to one, resulting in them being concentrated geographically and highly leveraged, resulting in them being high risk.
Ultimately, these investors, along with many other Puerto Rico investors, lost millions of dollars of their savings when the market for Puerto Rico bonds collapsed in 2013.
Investors, including many who should never have been invested in municipal bonds, or should have had far less of their portfolios invested in this area, sustained huge losses as UBS’s funds plummeted and the markets dried up, leaving many investors with no way to get their money back out easily.
As UBS’s Puerto Rico funds were highly leveraged, the drop in the Puerto Rico bond market was substantially elevated for UBS customers, effectively losing twice as much as the market.