All municipal bond offerings include a “minimum denomination” that establishes the smallest amount of the bonds that a dealer firm is allowed to sell an investor in a single transaction. This minimum helps to protect investors and municipal issuers often set high minimum denomination amounts for so-called “junk bonds” that have a higher default risk that may make the investments inappropriate for retail investors.
Because retail investors tend to purchase securities in smaller amounts, this minimum denomination standard helps ensure that dealer firms sell high-risk securities only to investors who are capable of making sizeable investments and more prepared to bear the higher risk.
In its surveillance of trading in the municipal bond market, the SEC Enforcement Division’s Municipal Securities and Public Pensions Unit detected improper sales below a $100,000 minimum denomination set in a $3.5 billion offering of junk bonds by the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico earlier this year. The SEC’s subsequent investigation identified a total of 66 occasions when dealer firms sold the Puerto Rico bonds to investors in amounts below $100,000.
The agency instituted administrative proceedings against the firms behind those improper sales: Charles Schwab & Co., Hapoalim Securities USA, Interactive Brokers LLC, Investment Professionals Inc., J.P. Morgan Securities, Lebenthal & Co., National Securities Corporation, Oppenheimer & Co., Riedl First Securities Co. of Kansas, Stifel Nicolaus & Co., TD Ameritrade, UBS Financial Services, and Wedbush Securities.
For more information, see the SEC press release and order -SEC Sanctions 13 Firms for Improper Sales of Puerto Rico Junk Bonds - or call our office if you have been an investor in Puerto Rico municipal bonds. Our office is representing a number of investors in Puerto Rico with claims for losses in municipal bonds. Our attorneys at Sallah Astarita & Cox include veteran securities litigators and former SEC Enforcement Attorneys. We have decades of experience in securities litigation matters, inc nationwide. For more information call 212-509-6544 or send an email.