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Regulation and Compliance > Litigation

Ex-UBS Rep Who Spent Client Money on Girlfriends’ Gifts Pleads Guilty

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What You Need to Know

  • The ex-UBS rep charged with defrauding $5.8 million from a family with several UBS accounts has pleaded guilty.
  • About $4.6 million of the money was allegedly spent on several girlfriends.
  • He is scheduled to be sentenced on June 21 and could spend the rest of his life in prison.

An ex-UBS broker has pleaded guilty to defrauding a family out of $5.8 million, most of which he spent on gifts for girlfriends, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The gifts included private school tuition, luxury cars and an apartment in Colombia, according to the SEC.

German Nino of Weston, Florida, was charged by both the Justice Department and SEC in January with defrauding a family with several accounts at the wirehouse. He pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, according to court documents and the Justice Department.

Nino is scheduled to be sentenced on June 21, before U.S. District Judge Donald L. Graham in Miami. He faces up to 60 years in prison, according to an announcement on Thursday by Juan Antonio Gonzalez, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and George L. Piro, special agent in charge, FBI Miami. Nino was 56 when charged in January, so he could spend the rest of his life in prison.

UBS did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday about Nino’s guilty plea.

In January, a UBS spokesperson told ThinkAdvisor: “Ensuring the safety of assets our customers entrust to us is always paramount. UBS has compensated the affected customers for any losses from their UBS accounts.”

Nino was registered as a broker with UBS from July 2012 until August 2020, according to his report on the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s BrokerCheck website.

He resigned from UBS after a client alleged Nino stole money from him from Feb. 23, 2018, to July 13, 2020, according to a disclosure on his report. The client requested $2 million from UBS but, in a settlement, received the full $5.8 million that was cited in the SEC and DOJ actions.

More Plea Details

The plea was part of a deal with the Justice Department in which Nino agreed to plead guilty to three counts of wire fraud in exchange for the dismissal of five other counts.

From about 2012 to 2020, Nino worked at a branch office of UBS Financial Services in Miami, where he oversaw and managed UBS investment accounts for various clients.

From about May 2014 to February 2020, Nino made a total of 62 unauthorized transfers totaling $5.8 million from three UBS accounts belonging to three related clients, he admitted as part of his change of plea on Tuesday.

Nino admitted that he made materially false and fraudulent statements to those clients; concealed and omitted material facts including misrepresenting the true performance, balance and rate of return of the accounts he managed; forged the signature of his clients on documents purporting to authorize transfers out of the accounts; and prepared fraudulent UBS statements.

Nino also admitted to preparing a fraudulent land purchase contract and forging a client’s signature on the contract making it appear the client was buying land in Colombia by using money from their account, and also removed one of the client’s emails from their UBS email account profile so they wouldn’t receive email notifications from UBS about unauthorized transfers.

‘Several’ Romantic Relationships Benefited

According to the SEC’s complaint, Nino stole the investment funds over nearly a six-year period and spent about $4.6 million of it on “several women with whom he had romantic relationships.”

Those purchases “ranged from small gifts and vacations, to luxury cars, private school tuition, and an apartment in Colombia,” the SEC complaint alleged. He spent the remaining $1.2 million to “fully repay another advisory client from whom he had previously misappropriated funds,” according to the SEC.

On Thursday, the SEC moved for an entry of a judgment by consent against Nino as a result of a settlement reached on all issues of liability between the SEC and Nino.

(Image: Shutterstock)