PDVSA Pension Ponzi claims another scalp: Horna pleads guilty

This just in from the US Attorney in Connecticut (I’ll add a link when they post on the web):

VENEZUELAN CITIZEN ADMITS CONSPIRING TO OBSTRUCT SEC INVESTIGATION OF CONNECTICUT HEDGE FUND ADVISOR

David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that JUAN CARLOS HORNA NAPOLITANO, 40, a citizen of Venezuela residing in Pembroke Pines, Florida, pleaded guilty today before United States District Judge Stefan R. Underhill in Bridgeport to one count of conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

“The U.S. Attorney’s Office, FBI and our Connecticut Securities, Commodities and Investor Fraud Task Force partners are committed to investigating and prosecuting those who attempt to deceive and mislead the SEC and defeat its critical mission of protecting investors and the integrity of American capital markets,” stated U.S. Attorney Fein.

According to court documents and statements made in court, Francisco Illarramendi of New Canaan acted as an investment adviser to certain hedge funds. In approximately 2006, one hedge fund he advised lost millions of dollars of the money he was charged with investing. Rather than disclose to his investors the truth about the losses incurred, Illarramendi intentionally chose to conceal this information by engaging in a long-running scheme to defraud and mislead his investors, creditors and the SEC to prevent the truth about the losses from being discovered. As part of the scheme, Illarramendi and others created fraudulent documents, including a fictitious asset verification letter falsely representing that one of the hedge funds, the Short Term Liquidity Fund (“STLF”), had at least $275 million in credits as a result of outstanding loans, when Illarramendi and others knew it did not have any such credits. In exchange for expected payment of at least $3 million, HORNA and Juan Carlos Guillen Zerpa assisted Illarramendi in creating the fictitious asset verification letter and misleading and deceiving investors and the SEC into believing that there was adequate capital and credit to protect the investors of the STLF.

Guillen is a resident and citizen of Venezuela who was the managing partner of a Venezuelan accounting firm associated with a major international accounting firm. In late 2010, Guillen agreed to prepare the asset verification letter that would falsely indicate that the STLF had made outstanding loans to Venezuelan companies. Guillen expected to receive approximately $1 million for his willingness to sign the false asset verification letter.

In January 2011, Guillen executed the false asset verification letter and sent it by email to Illarramendi. Thereafter, Guillen and HORNA learned that the false asset verification letter had been supplied to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), and that the SEC had initiated a civil action against Illarramendi and others (SEC v. Illarramendi, et al., 3:11-CV-00078). In an effort to deceive and mislead the SEC and to prevent the SEC from learning during the civil action that the asset verification letter was false, Illarramendi, Guillen and HORNA sought to create fraudulent documentation to falsely support the information contained in the letter. Guillen also participated in a telephone call with representatives of the SEC in which he intentionally misrepresented that the assertions in the asset verification letter about the existence of the hedge funds’ assets were true, when he knew they were false.

HORNA maintained control of a Florida bank account in the name of Jeislo Real Estate Investments, LLC. In furtherance of the conspiracy, Illarramendi caused two transfers of funds in the total amount of $1.25 million to be made into this bank account. As partial payment to Guillen for his role in the scheme, HORNA transferred at least $250,000 of this money to a third party for the benefit of Guillen.

Judge Underhill has scheduled sentencing for August 5, 2011, at which time HORNA faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years and a fine of up to approximately $2.5 million. HORNA also has agreed to forfeit $1.25 million to the government.

HORNA has been detained since his arrest by FBI special agents on March 3, 2011, in Florida. Following his guilty plea today, HORNA was released into home confinement under electronic monitoring after he posted a bond in the amount of $650,000, which is secured by $181,000 in cash and real property.

On March 7, 2011, Illarramendi pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud, one count of securities fraud, one count of investment advisor fraud, and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice, to obstruct an official proceeding and to defraud the SEC. On May 4, 2011, Guillen pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Both await sentencing.

This matter is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and is being prosecuted by Senior Litigation Counsel Richard J. Schechter. U.S. Attorney Fein also acknowledged the substantial assistance provided by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida.

In December 2010, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and several law enforcement and regulatory partners announced the formation of the Connecticut Securities, Commodities and Investor Fraud Task Force, which is investigating matters relating to insider trading, market manipulation, Ponzi schemes, investor fraud, financial statement fraud, violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and embezzlement. The Task Force includes representatives from the U.S. Attorney’s Office; Federal Bureau of Investigation; Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation; U.S. Secret Service; U.S. Postal Inspection Service; U.S. Department of Justice’s Criminal Division, Fraud Section and Antitrust Division; U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC); U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC); Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP); Office of the Chief State’s Attorney; State of Connecticut Department of Banking; Greenwich Police Department and Stamford Police Department.

Citizens are encouraged to report any financial fraud schemes by calling, toll free, 855-236-9740, or by sending an email to ctsecuritiesfraud@ic.fbi.gov.

This case was brought in coordination with the President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, which was established to wage an aggressive and coordinated effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general, and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes.

4 thoughts on “PDVSA Pension Ponzi claims another scalp: Horna pleads guilty

  1. westslope

    What kind of sentences are to be expected?

    Are there not any pit-bull style opposition political parties in Venezuela? Is somebody going to make Hugo Chavez wear this shameful embarrassment?

      1. Kepler

        I honestly think there is no way that can dent Hugo’s popularity.
        Those who dislike him, dislike him. Those who don’t care, don’t care. Those who like him won’t believe this has anything to do with him – if they ever hear about this and if they even get to understand it.

        This kind of affairs is Chinese for most Venezuelans and those at PDVSA are there because of Chávez mostly at this stage.

        Carlos Andrés Pérez had to step down legally because the Congress inhabilitated him on account of some “partida secreta” which amounted to an atom of the partidas secretas Chávez has been managing. In reality people wanted him to go, for special interests of all kind and because very low oil prices had made his government very unpopular.

        The only scandal that would force Chávez to step down is if there is absolute proof, without any doubt, that he has personally killed someone or raped someone or the like.

  2. HalfEmpty

    The only scandal that would force Chávez to step down is if there is absolute proof, without any doubt, that he has personally killed someone or raped someone or the like.

    :)

    Disagree…. personally killing someone would burnish his populist credentials. Think Andrew Jackson… as far as the rest..

    The only way I can lose this election is if I’m caught in bed with either a dead girl or a live boy.

    Atribbuted to Edwin Edwards (Lousiana Crk.) he won. But the quote is much older and harks back to the pre voting rights Democrat only south.

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