NEW YORK — The former treasurer of Puerto Rico's Doral Financial Corp. was convicted on charges he misrepresented to investors the potential impact rising interest rates would have on revenue the company received from mortgage loans sold to other lenders.
In its second day of deliberations, a jury found Mario "Sammy" Levis guilty of securities fraud and two counts of wire fraud. He was acquitted of one count of wire fraud. He faces up to 20 years in prison on each fraud charge.
Another wire fraud charge was dismissed before the jury began deliberations.
A lawyer for Levis didn't immediately return a phone call seeking comment Thursday.
The trial, in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, lasted about four weeks.
Prosecutors have alleged Levis misrepresented how so-called "interest-only strips" were valued in order to artificially inflate the company's stock price. The interest-only strips — a portion of the interest the company continued to collect on each mortgage that was sold — were recorded as a noncash asset on the company's books.
He also allegedly misrepresented to investors that two independent valuations were being conducted on the way the company valued those strips, prosecutors said.
Levis allegedly was motivated to keep the company's stock price from falling, given his family's large holdings of the company's stock, prosecutors said. Doral was founded by Levis's father and uncle.
When Doral sold a loan, the buyer would be entitled to receive the remaining principal owed on the mortgage and a portion of the monthly interest payments — known as a "pass-through rate," prosecutors said.
As part of the sale, Doral would receive cash equal to the remaining principal and would retain a portion of the monthly interest payments — known as an "interest-only strip." The pass-through rate was tied to the London Interbank Offering Rate, or Libor, in some cases and could fluctuate based on changes in interest rates, prosecutors said.
In his opening statement last month, Assistant U.S. Attorney Williams Stellmach said Levis repeatedly told investors there were negotiated caps on the pass-through rate paid to the secondary buyers of its mortgages and it wouldn't be impacted by rising interest rates, Stellmach said. There were no caps in the loan-sale contracts, the prosecutor said.
Roy Black, Levis's lawyer, has argued that Levis never misled anyone, defrauded anyone or enriched himself. He has said Levis acted in good faith and is now facing criminal charges over "accounting predictions."
In April 2005, the company announced it would restate some or all of its financial statements from Jan. 1, 2000, to Dec. 31, 2004, to correct its methodology for calculating the fair value of its portfolio of floating-rate interest-only strips.
Levis, of Puerto Rico, resigned from the company in August 2005, along with several other members of senior management, including his uncle, the company's former chief executive.