The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged an unregistered investment adviser based in Orlando, Florida for defrauding the Municipality of Mayagüez, Puerto Rico and misappropriating $7.1 million of taxpayer funds.
According to the SEC’s complaint, in 2016, Eugenio Garcia Jimenez, Jr. told municipal officials that he could invest approximately $9 million of the municipality’s funds with no risk to principal and earn the city annual returns of approximately 10%. As set forth in the complaint, the city intended to use returns from this investment to fund municipal projects, including the construction of a new trauma center. The complaint alleges that Garcia falsified documents, including bank correspondence and brokerage opening documents, to convince municipal officials to entrust him with the municipality’s funds. As alleged in the complaint, instead of executing an investment strategy designed to generate the promised returns, Garcia purchased U.S. Treasury notes, immediately took out a margin loan pledging the notes as collateral and, over a period of six months, misappropriated $7.1 million by transferring funds to himself, entities he controlled, and his associates.
“The municipality chose Garcia as an investment adviser and entrusted him with millions of dollars of taxpayer funds,” said Eric I. Bustillo, Director of the SEC’s Miami Regional Office. “As alleged, Garcia took advantage of that trust and misappropriated millions of dollars of taxpayer funds, causing the municipality great harm.”
The SEC’s complaint, filed in federal court in Puerto Rico, charges Garcia with violating the antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws. The SEC seeks permanent injunctive relief, disgorgement of allegedly ill-gotten gains plus prejudgment interest, and a civil penalty.
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Mark Astarita is a nationally recognized securities attorney, who represents investors, financial professionals and firms in securities litigation, arbitration and regulatory matters, including SEC and FINRA investigations and enforcement proceedings.
He is a partner in the national securities law firm Sallah Astarita & Cox, LLC, and the founder of The Securities Law Home Page - SECLaw.com, which was one of the first legal topic sites on the Internet. It went online in 1995 and is updated daily with news, commentary and securities law related links.