Essential Services In Puerto Rico Are Threatened

After months of denouncing the federal government’s response to Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rican officials declared a rare victory when U.S. Senate leaders folded disaster relief funding into a two-year budget deal to avert a government shutdown.

Hopeful Developments

Puerto Rico, along with the United States Virgin Islands, is scheduled to receive $4.8 billion to replenish dwindling Medicaid funds, $2 billion to restore the shredded power grid and $9 billion for housing and urban development projects.

But the funding falls tens of billions of dollars short of what Puerto Rico says it needs to come back from the devastating storm. In November, Puerto Rico estimated it would need $94.4 billion to rebuild the island and make its infrastructure more resilient to future natural disasters. Continue Reading

Puerto Rico Submits Fiscal Plan Settling Debt For Almost No Money

Late on January 24, 2018, the government of Puerto Rico released a revised fiscal plan under which the commonwealth would pay nothing in debt service over the next five years and would only be able to support $2.5 billion to $14 billion of debt in the long term, a fraction of its current level. The plan suggests that holders of its bonds might receive as little as five cents on the dollar.

The plan assumes that the federal government will provide $35.3 billion in federal disaster assistance for the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria. That figure is one third the amount that the island’s Governor Ricardo Rossello recently requested but still more than Congress is likely to provide.1

The forecast in the plan shows that the government expects to have a shortfall, before any debt is paid, of $3.4 billion through 2022. Continue Reading

Most of Puerto Rico is Still Without Electricity After Three Months

The Devastation Caused by the Two Hurricanes

Hurricane Irma hit Puerto Rico on September 6. Hurricane Maria, a category 4 storm, struck the island on September 20 and was the most powerful storm to hit the island in nearly a century.

President Donald Trump had pledged a quick recovery, but experts said it could take months. Increasing criticism was made that the response by the U.S. government had been sluggish.

After three months, large areas of Puerto Rico are still without electricity. According to the latest government reports, so far only 60.4 percent of the pre-storm power grid load has been restored. Continue Reading

Puerto Rico Update

Hurricane Maria

Hurricane Maria, a category 4 storm, caused severe damage to Puerto Rico when it struck the island on early Wednesday morning, September 20th, with winds up to 155 miles an hour. It was the most powerful storm to hit the island in nearly a century.

Only about 50% of the houses on the island were covered by insurance policies.1

The storm destroyed the island’s electricity infrastructure and crippled its cellular grid, which greatly impeded the coordination of relief efforts. Without electricity, internet service, and practically no telephone service, a nightly curfew was imposed and there was a need for armed escorts for fuel deliveries. Continue Reading

Appeals Court Upholds Conviction In Insider Trading Case

A federal appeals panel on August 23, 2017 upheld the insider trading conviction of Mathew Martoma, the former analyst at SAC Capital Advisors.

Background

Attorneys for Mr. Martoma had argued that the government prosecutors did not introduce enough evidence that he had a sufficiently close relationship with Dr. Sidney Gilman who leaked confidential information about a clinical trial of an Alzheimer’s drug that led SAC Capital to sell out its position in two pharmaceutical companies, resulting in gains and losses avoided of over $250 million. Continue Reading

Hedge Fund Lawsuit Seeks Puerto Rico’s Bankruptcy Filing Dismissed And Other Developments

On Monday, August 7, 2017, the Aurelius Capital Management hedge fund, as a $468 million holder of Puerto Rico’s general obligation bonds, filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court in San Juan arguing that the federal Oversight Board, created by the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA), was unconstitutionally established.

Claims of Dismissal Lawsuit

The lawsuit cited the “Appointments Clause” of the United States Constitution, which calls for all principal officers of the federal government to be appointed by the President and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. The lawsuit claims this did not happen when the seven members of the Oversight Board were selected. Instead, the members were “handpicked by individual members of Congress” through “an intricate system of Balkanized lists, designed to severely constrain the President’s appointment powers.” Continue Reading

Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority Defaults

On July 2, 2017, Puerto Rico’s Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority announced that the island’s troubled power authority defaulted on a deal to restructure roughly $9 billion in bond debt and sought protection from its creditors.

Power Authority Files for Bankruptcy

The government said the move to file for bankruptcy was the only way to reduce the existing debt of Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) “to a sustainable level.” PREPA had previously negotiated an out-of-court deal to reduce its bond payments by about 15 percent. The bondholders now seem likely to sustain larger losses under court supervision. Continue Reading

Recent Developments In Puerto Rico Bankruptcy

As previously reported, the U.S. Congress last year approved the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA) to address the island’s financial crisis.

U.S. territories are barred from filing a traditional bankruptcy.

Under the PROMESA legislation signed by former President Barack Obama, an Oversight Board and the Title III process were created. Title III is like a Chapter 9 bankruptcy. Continue Reading

Puerto Rico Files For Bankruptcy Protection

The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is seeking the largest municipal bankruptcy filing in U.S. history, after failed negotiations with creditors over its $70 billion debt crisis. That is more than four times the debt Detroit collapsed under.

As previously reported, U.S. territories were barred from filing for a traditional bankruptcy, permitted for most U.S. cities or states. As a result, the U.S. Congress last year approved the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA) to address the impending financial crisis Puerto Rico was already facing.1 Continue Reading

Recent Important Insider Trading Trial

On Friday, April 7 of this year, the famed Las Vegas sports gambler William T. “Billy” Walters was found guilty in the U.S.  District Court for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan of 10 charges of securities fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy, the most serious of which carry a potential sentence of up to 20 years in prison. This was one of the biggest insider trading trials in recent years.

At issue in the trial was whether the relationship between Mr. Walters and his source, Thomas C. Davis, a former chairman of the board of Dean Foods of Dallas was sufficiently close to find that tips about Dean Foods were a gift in violation of the insider trading laws.1 Continue Reading

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