Juan Carlos Guillen Zerpa v. U.S. Attorney General

Case: 16-17407 Date Filed: 12/05/2017 Page: 1 of 13 [DO NOT PUBLISH] IN THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE ELEVENTH CIRCUIT ________________________ No. 16-17407 Non-Argument Calendar ________________________ Agency No. A205-681-439 JUAN CARLOS GUILLEN ZERPA, Petitioner, versus U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL, Respondent. ________________________ Petition for Review of a Decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals ________________________ (December 5, 2017) Before WILSON, MARTIN, and JORDAN, Circuit Judges. PER CURIAM: Case: 16-17407 Date Filed: 12/05/2017 Page: 2 of 13 Juan Carlos Guillén Zerpa petitions for review of the Board of Immigration Appeals’s (“BIA”) final order affirming the Immigration Judge’s (“IJ”) denial of his application for asylum, withholding of removal, and relief under the United Nations Convention Against Torture (“CAT”). After careful review, we deny his petition. I. A. Guillén Zerpa is a native and citizen of Venezuela. He worked as a public accountant in Venezuela from 1989 until 2011. In 2010, Guillén Zerpa was asked to prepare an asset-verification letter on behalf of the Michael Kenwood Group LLC (“MKG”). MKG was founded in 2006 by Francisco Illarramendi, a former Venezuelan government official. Between 2006 and 2011, the government of Venezuela entrusted Illarramendi and MKG with $500 million in pension funds to invest. The pension funds belonged to current and former employees of Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (“PDVSA”), the state-controlled oil company. Rather than invest the funds, Illarramendi used the money to concoct a massive Ponzi scheme, and ultimately between $300 million and $500 million of the pension fund money was lost. Guillén Zerpa was offered $1 million to prepare the asset-verification letter. In the letter, he falsely represented that MKG had $275 million in assets stemming 2 Case: 16-17407 Date Filed: 12/05/2017 Page: 3 of 13 from loans owed by various Venezuelan companies to MKG. On January 3, 2011, he submitted the letter to MKG. At the time, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) was investigating MKG and Illarramendi. On January 10, the SEC asked Guillén Zerpa to verify the letter’s existence. On March 3, Guillén Zerpa flew to Miami, to meet with Illarramendi for the first time. He was admitted as a visitor to the United States under a B-2 visa. He was then immediately arrested in connection with the investigation into MKG. Guillén Zerpa was charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice and obstruction of an official proceeding in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 371, 1512(c)(2), (k). On May 5, he pled guilty to the conspiracy charge and was sentenced to 14- months imprisonment followed by 24 months of supervised release. On January 24, 2013, he was released from federal prison. B. On November 27, 2012, while in prison, Guillén Zerpa filed an application for asylum, withholding of removal, and CAT relief. He claimed that because of his involvement in defrauding PDVSA he would be persecuted and tortured if returned to Venezuela. Guillén Zerpa also claimed he would be persecuted 3 Case: 16-17407 Date Filed: 12/05/2017 Page: 4 of 13 because he was a member of the “Bolivarian Bourgeoisie”1 and ...

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