Venezuelan Accountant Sentenced In Conn. Ponzi Case

Dec 15 2011 | 8:39am ET

Juan Carlos Guillen Zerpa, a Venezuelan accountant, has been sentenced to 14 months in prison for trying to hinder an investigation into a Connecticut hedge fund manager accused of running a Ponzi scheme.

Guillen was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Stefan R. Underhill on December 14 in federal court in Bridgeport, Conn., for lying to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, reports Bloomberg.

Francisco Illarramendi, majority owner of Michael Kenwood Group, pleaded guilty in March to charges that he misappropriated more than $50 million. He admitted that he engaged a pair of Venezuelans to provide a bogus letter from an accountant in that country verifying the existence of $275 million in imaginary assets. Illarramendi, who has been barred from the securities industry by the SEC, faces up to 70 years in prison.

Guillen signed an asset-verification letter falsely affirming that Illarramendi’s funds had $275 million in loans to Venezuelan companies. In court documents, prosecutors wrote that the accountant sold “his title for an expected payday of $1 million in exchange for his obstruction of justice and false statements to a federal agency about the existence of hundreds of millions of dollars of fraudulent assets.”

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