Fighting for Investors
- Suitability/Reg BI. Prior to recommending the purchase of specific investments or a specific investment strategy to a customer, a stock broker in Puerto Rico is required to determine that the investments are suitable to that particular investor. A suitability determination is based upon many different factors such as age, investment objectives, risk tolerance, employment situation, needs, income, assets, and investment experience. The suitability rule was superseded in 2020 by the SEC's Regulation Best Interest (Reg BI) which requires that recommendations of securities and securities strategies be in the best interest of the customer.
- Churning. Churning occurs when a broker exercises control over an account and allows the broker's interest in making commissions to override the investor's interests in the account. When a broker makes a buy or sell recommendation for an account, that broker should have the investor's best interests based on their investment objectives in mind. If the broker makes excessive buy and sell recommendations for the purposes of generating commissions for the broker by each buy and sell, that broker is engaged in churning the account. Excessive turnover in the assets of the account and/or a high cost to equity percentage are often a sign of churning.
- Unauthorized Trading. Generally, an investor can have two kinds of an account, non-discretionary and discretionary. In a typical non-discretionary account, the broker must consult with and obtain the consent of the customer prior to making a trade in the account. Unauthorized trading occurs when a broker makes trades in a non-discretionary account without the consent of the customer.
- Securities Fraud. Most of the claims in this list are subsets of securities fraud which is employing a device, scheme, or artifice to defraud, or obtaining money by means of untrue statements of material facts and failure to state material facts in violation of Puerto Rico's Securities laws or federal law (Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5). If a broker makes false statements to an investor or fails to advise the investor of certain important facts, the investor may be able to recover losses incurred resulting from this fraud.
- Margin Fraud. Margin trading involves borrowing money from the brokerage firm to purchase securities greater in value than the equity in an investor's account. Due to the risky nature of trading on the margin, disputes with brokers often arise as a result of significant losses. If a broker trades on the margin without the knowledge or consent of the investor, the investor may be able to recover the losses resulting from the fraud.
- Ponzi Scheme Investment Scams. Ponzi schemes generally involve promises of high returns by salespersons over short periods of time, but in reality result in stealing from Peter to pay Paul. Because returns to investors in ponzi schemes are often paid out of new investment monies from new investors, the scheme will ultimately fall apart when the new investors dry up, leaving all investors often holding a worthless investment.
- Failure to Supervise Broker. FINRA firms in Puerto Rico have a duty to supervise their registered brokers, and their failure to do so may form the basis of various legal claims against them. FINRA Rule 3110 states: Each member shall establish and maintain a system to supervise the activities of each registered representative, registered principal, and other associated person that is reasonably designed to achieve compliance with applicable securities laws and regulations, and with applicable FINRA Rules. Final responsibility for proper supervision shall rest with the member.
- Breach of Fiduciary Duty. Financial Advisors in Puerto Rico owe their customers the highest fiduciary duty pursuant to PR Regulations.