SEC Charges Miami Adviser Lina Garcia Over Cherry-Picking Allegations
Lina Garcia (CRD# 4447599) has been charged by the Securities and Exchange Commission with orchestrating a fraudulent cherry-picking scheme. According to her Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) BrokerCheck report and SEC IAPD Report, Garcia is currently registered as an investment adviser with UCB Financial Advisers in Miami, Florida. She was previously registered as a broker with Insigneo Securities.
SEC: Garcia Engaged in Fraudulent Cherry-Picking Scheme
The SEC’s complaint against Lina Garcia, available here, charges her alongside Ramiro Jose Sugranes, her romantic partner and a co-owner of UCB Advisers. According to the charges, Garcia is President, Chief Compliance Officer, and a co-owner of the firm. The SEC alleges that as representatives of UCB Services and UCB Advisers, Garcia and Sugranes engaged in a cherry-picking scheme: a form of fraud in which an investment professional allocates profitable and unprofitable trades based on their personal preference, usually allocating successful trades to the accounts of preferred clients (or to their own account), while allocating losing trades to others. Cherry-picking schemes are forbidden by the SEC.
Charges Allege Lina Garcia Allocated Millions to Preferred Accounts
According to the SEC, Lina Maria Garcia and Ramiro Jose Sugranes used a block trading account to purchase securities for a group of customers, and later closed out positions whose value increased, “thereby locking in the same-day profit.” They allegedly allocated such trades to what the SEC terms “Preferred Accounts.” Positions whose value decreased, meanwhile, were allocated to “Non-Preferred Accounts” in typical cherry-picking scheme fashion.
The SEC’s charges allege that the scheme ultimately allocated about $4.6 million in “illicit profits” toward UCB Advisers’ preferred accounts, while the Non-Preferred Accounts sustaining more than $6.5 million in aggregate losses. The Preferred Accounts allegedly belomged to Sugranes’ parents, a married couple living in Nicaragua. The scheme itself constituted “thousands of trades in dozens of securities,” according to the SEC,” in products such as Lumentum Holdings stocks.
Garcia Allegedly Reaped “Significant” Ill-Gotten Gains
For their own part, the SEC alleges, Garcia and Sugranes enjoyed “ill-gotten gains” of at least $4.6 million from the fraud, as well as other benefits. The SEC alleges that Sugranes’ received $1.85 million from his parents, while Garcia received “significant payments from Sugranes, purportedly as gifts or to reimburse her for living expenses.” The couple allegedly formed a limited liability company that invested in a “restaurant and hospitality business owned by Garcia’s friends.” When the two learned of an asset freeze against them in June 2021, Sugranes allegedly transferred $264,000 from a bank account under his control to a bank account under his and Garcia’s joint control, and then from their to a personal bank account he controlled.
The SEC has charged Garcia and Sugranes with violations of the Securities Act, and is seeking an injunction, disgorgement of allegedly ill-gotten gains, prejudgment interest, and other civil penalties. the charges remain pending.
Garcia Is Based in Miamia, Florida
Lina Maria Garcia’s 18 years of experience in the securities industry began in 2002, when she joined Goldman Sachs & Company in New York City as a broker. She would go on to associate with firms including Colonial Brokerage, and Global Investor Services. In 2006 she joined UCB Financial Advisers in Miami, Florida as an investment adviser; she has remained there since, while also serving as a broker with Insigneo Securities in Miami from 2010 until 2021.
For more information on Lina Maria Garcia’s registration history and the SEC charges against her, visit her FINRA BrokerCheck report. (The above-referenced information was accessed on November 26, 2021.)