On October 1, a federal judge ruled in the SEC’s favor in a trial against two Miami-based companies and its owners for fraudulently stealing investor money through large, undisclosed commissions and fees via their selling of mutual funds.
The Honorable Jose Martinez of the Southern District of Florida ordered U.S. Pension Trust Corp. and U.S. College Trust Corp. to pay more than $112 million, while the three individuals running the companies — Iliana Maceiras, Leonardo Maceiras Jr., and Nildo Verdeja — were ordered to pay $3.36 million collectively.
The Court found that U.S. Pension Trust and U.S. College Trust solicited investments from predominantly foreign investors into various multi-year investment plans beginning in 1995. The plans consisted of investing funds into a mix of U.S. mutual funds and insurance products. The Court’s findings also included that: (a) the companies intentionally failed to disclose numerous commissions and fees, including 85 percent of first-year contributions in some plans; (b) the companies and the individuals misrepresented to investors that their products were registered and regulated by the SEC, the Federal Reserve Bank, and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency; and (c) the companies and individuals acted as broker-dealers in selling their products, without registering with the SEC.
According to the Director of the SEC’s Miami Regional Office, Eric I. Bustillo, “Under the federal securities laws, investors are entitled to full disclosure so they know how much of their investment is going toward commissions and fees. The outcome of this case makes that point loud and clear. We will continue to aggressively pursue those who take investors’ money and fail to give a full picture of how they are using those funds.”