UPDATE 1-Venezuelan financier gets 13 years prison in Connecticut fraud

jueves 29 de enero de 2015 18:06 GYT

(Adds sums recovered, defendant's custodial status)

By Jonathan Stempel

Jan 29 (Reuters) - A Venezuelan financier was sentenced on Thursday to 13 years in prison for running what U.S. prosecutors called a Ponzi scheme in Connecticut that caused $382.2 million of losses, including for Venezuela's state-owned oil company.

Francisco Illarramendi, 45, was sentenced after having pleaded guilty in March 2011 to five criminal counts including securities fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy to obstruct justice and defraud the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The sentence was imposed by U.S. District Judge Stefan Underhill in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Prosecutors sought at least a 12-year prison term.

Illarramendi had requested no more than six months of home confinement. He has been in custody since bail was revoked in January 2013. A court-appointed receiver has recovered more than $300 million for fraud victims.

The defendant's lawyer Stephan Seeger said in a phone interview that the sentence was calculated incorrectly, and that most of the alleged losses "have been or can easily be" recouped.

"Our wholehearted intention is to appeal the sentence," Seeger said. "While the government has hailed it as the biggest Ponzi scheme in Connecticut's history, it is the only alleged Ponzi scheme in the universe with a surplus."

The son of a Venezuelan diplomat, Illarramendi worked for Credit Suisse from 1994 to 2004, and then took a sabbatical to advise Venezuela's state-owned Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA).   Continuación...