UBS Financial Services and UBS Financial Services of Puerto Rico must pay nearly $18.6 million in compensatory damages, interest and attorneys’ fees to a prominent Puerto Rican attorney and his wife, according to a FINRA arbitration award released Monday.
Rafael Vizcarrondo, counsel for Fiddler, González & Rodríguez, P.S.C., and his wife Mercedes Imbert De Jesus submitted the arbitration complaint against UBS in 2014 over their investments in Puerto Rico closed-end mutual funds concentrated in Puerto Rico bonds. The couple’s complaint asserts that UBS put them in “unsuitable investments,” failed to supervise the broker, and breached their fiduciary duty, among other allegations.
One of the attorneys on Vizcarrondo’s team, Timothy J. Dennin of Northport, New York, called it the “largest award ever rendered” among similar arbitration cases regarding Puerto Rico closed-end funds sold by UBS.
According to Dennin, there may be as many as a thousand similar claims pending in Puerto Rico. Dennin himself has also been a part of similar arb cases against UBS.
“There’s been some very significant claims that have been filed on behalf of investors in FINRA arbitrations against UBS regarding the closed-end fund issues,” Dennin told ThinkAdvisor in a phone interview. “And this award is significant in that it is by far and away the largest award ever rendered in these thousand-plus cases.”
Dennin, who got involved “late in the game” when he was asked to try the case, said the award was also significant because the arbitration panel awarded “100% net out-of-pocket damages” based on third-party independent experts’ calculations, as well as interest and attorneys’ fees.
According to Dennin, third-party independent experts calculated the couples’ damages and determined the net out-of-pocket damages totaled $12.7 million.