A former UBS and Wells Fargo advisor was ordered by an arbitration panel to pay an ex-employer more than $500,000 – which may only be the opening chapter of his latest problems.

Miguel Mattei Zapata was ordered by FINRA to reimburse Wells Fargo for failure to pay back a promissory note, and still must answer seven client complaints that allege more than $6 million in damages for misconduct at his most recent employer, UBS.

Zapata worked for Wells Fargo in Puerto Rico from 2009 to 2011, when he left to join UBS there, according to FINRA records. In the Wells Fargo arbitration case, the firm was awarded more than $469,000 plus interest from Zapata for failing to pay back a 2009 promissory note. Wells won an additional $64,000 for attorney fees. A spokeswoman declined to comment on the case.

Zapata could not be reached for comment, including requests made via social media.


The complaints, stemming from Zapata's time at UBS, include allegations of overconcentration and misrepresentation of closed-end funds, according to his FINRA BrokerCheck record.  His employment with UBS ended in November 2014.

Records show the pending complaints mirror the wider problems the firm and its advisors have been confronted with regarding troubled sales of municipal bonds and closed-end funds in Puerto Rico since 2013. Multiple regulatory inquiries have followed as well as client complaints totaling more than $1.1 billion in alleged damages, according to the firm's most recent earnings report.The complaints allege misconduct including overconcentration and misrepresentation of the funds.

In October 2014 UBS reached a $5.2 million settlement with securities regulators from the commonwealth, who alleged that the firm may have permitted or recommended that some clients use non-purpose loans to buy the funds -- a violation of the loans' terms of agreement. Over the past year the number of complaints on the island has soared, leading FINRA to boost the size of the arbitrator pool. There are currently about 700 eligible arbitrators on FINRA's roster, a figure the regulator is trying to increase further.


Zapata started his advisory career in 1993, according to FINRA records. He worked for UBS twice; once from 1997 to 2005, and again from 2011 to 2014. In between, Zapata worked at Merrill Lynch from 2005 to 2009, and then Wells Fargo.

According to his BrokerCheck record, Zapata had two client disputes settled in 2013. One was reported by Merrill Lynch and settled for $75,000 for alleged churning and excessive trading. Zapata agreed to the settlement, while still denying the allegations. The second complaint, reported by UBS was settled for $165,000 for alleged unauthorized transactions. In a statement contained in the file, Zapata denied those allegations as well.

While with UBS, he was based in Guaynabo, a municipality adjacent to San Juan. That UBS office has since closed. A receptionist at the firm's San Juan office said she did not have a forwarding address or phone number for Zapata.

In his dispute with Wells Fargo, Zapata did not show up for arbitration hearings, nor did he have an attorney represent him, records show. --With reporting from Ralph R. Ortega.

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