Venezuelans face losses in fraud

Sunday December 2, 2012

HARTFORD, Conn. -- Some Venezuelan pensioners are telling U.S. prosecutors they have not been able to get back money put at risk by a massive Connecticut-based fraud scheme, which has exposed in vestors to losses totaling potentially hundreds of millions of dollars.

The biggest investment client of Venezuelan-American financier Francisco Illarramendi was a pension fund for state oil work ers in the South American country. In a statement sent to federal prosecutors in Octo ber, a number of people wrote that they have not been compensated for their losses by their former em ployer or the Vene zue lan government.

Illarramendi, who ran unregistered hedge funds out of offic es in Stamford, Conn., pleaded guilty last year to several counts of fraud and conspiracy to ob struct justice in a scheme to conceal huge losses. He is un der house arrest in New Canaan while awaiting sentencing.

Authorities have said losses in the case could exceed $500 million.

Receiver John Carney, who is seeking to recover the payments for fraud victims, said in his last update to the court in July that the funds associated with the fraud had estimated liabilities of nearly $2.2 billion and estimated assets of only $760 million, the vast majority of them in potential litigation claims.

Venezuela’s government also has said it is trying to recover what it can from the retirement fund for the oil company, Petro leos de Venezuela SA, or PDVSA.

The pensioners’ statement was described in a motion asking the court to forbid Illarra mendi from disclosing the identities of the people who signed it. The motion noted that Illar ramendi was found to have paid bribes and kickbacks to people managing the pension fund’s in vestments, and it said the victims expressed concern about re taliation by the company.


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