U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Litigation Release No. 20315 / September 28, 2007
SEC v. U.S. Pension Trust Corp., U.S. College Trust Corp., Iliana Maceiras, Leonardo Maceiras Jr., and Nildo Verdeja, Civil Action No. 07-22570-CIV-MARTINEZ/BANDSTRA (S.D. Fla., filed September 28, 2007)
SEC Brings Civil Action Against Unregistered Broker-Dealers and Their Principals for Defrauding Investors by Charging Undisclosed, Exorbitant Commissions and Fees in Connection With the Sale of Mutual Funds
The Securities and Exchange Commission ("Commission") today filed a civil injunctive action against Coral Gables, Florida based U.S. Pension Trust Corp. and U.S. College Trust Corp. (collectively, "USPT"), unregistered broker-dealers, and their principals Iliana Maceiras, Leonardo Maceiras Jr., and Nildo Verdeja in connection with fraud in the offer and sale of mutual funds to investors.
The Commission's complaint alleges that from at least December 1995 to the present, USPT has operated as an unregistered broker-dealer and has defrauded approximately 14,000 investors by charging exorbitant, undisclosed commissions and fees in connection with the sale of mutual funds, in violation of the registration and antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws. Using a network of independent sales agents, USPT offers prospective investors residing primarily in Latin America the opportunity to invest in a variety of mutual funds available from well-known U.S. fund companies (and at least one hedge fund), through a trust created at a U.S. bank on behalf of each investor. Touting its experience and "high quality financial products," USPT offers and sells mutual funds through a series of "investment plans" that provide investors with a choice of making either annual contributions for multiple years or a single, lump-sum contribution to remain invested for at least ten years. Among other misrepresentations, USPT and its principals have failed to disclose that they are taking as much as 85% of investors' contributions in the annual plan, and 12% of contributions in the lump-sum plan, to pay undisclosed exorbitant commissions, fees and a "net profit" to USPT.
The Commission's complaint charges the defendants with violating Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933, Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 ("Exchange Act") and Rule 10b-5 thereunder. The complaint further charges USPT with violating Section 15(a) of the Exchange Act, and Iliana Maceiras, Leonardo Maceiras Jr., and Nildo Verdeja with aiding and abetting USPT's Section 15(a) violations. In addition to permanent injunctions against further violations, the Commission is seeking an order than the defendants disgorge ill-gotten gains, with prejudgment interest, and an order imposing civil money penalties.