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Alek Boyd

"He who surrenders his intellect to that of other, for the sake of an ideology, creed or belief, commits the supreme act of denying its own self."

Updated: 2017-02-27T00:05:46.369+00:00


[UPDATED] DDoS, DMZHOST, spam, Project Shield...


This post was intended to be posted in Evidently, my contentment about having defeated the DDoS attack was premature... Please see updates at bottom.It's been a busy week. As I was chatting to a source in Caracas the other day, I noticed that this site was down. Asked my web host (shout out to the excellent folks at LeaseWeb), and was informed that -yet another- DDoS attack had been launched against us. This is the third time a DDoS attack has been directed to my websites: once at and twice at This is how it looked this morning...I must wonder, of course, at the reasons. Why would anyone seek to prevent the general public from learning about the stuff I publish? Is it because we expose Venezuela's rampant corruption? For those who are yet to get acquainted with the situation, Venezuela is a Spanish speaking country, of some 30 million. It is, after 17 years of chavista rule, a failed nation in the fullest sense of the term. But this site does not cater for a Venezuelan readership. It seeks to inform the wider world about who's who in the Boliburgeoisie, a new extremely wealthy and, equally, extremely inept class of 'businessmen' that could only become minted under the shadow of Hugo Chavez's so called socialist revolution. We talk about the Alejandro Betancourts of this world, the Juan Carlos Escotets, the Victor Vargas, the Danilo Diazgranados, the Francisco D'Agostinos and Luis Obertos... we investigate the origin of their newly found riches, we track their operations across many different jurisdictions, we expose those who enable, aid and abet them, like Adam Kaufmann, Glenn Simpson, Al Cardenas, or even Baltazar Garzon, we uncover their deals, in Africa, Europe, Russia, Asia, in sum, we shed a glimmer of sunlight on their otherwise opaque underworld.It is, therefore, to be expected that such work would attract the ire of nasty, criminal, yet extremely resourceful thugs (dirty money is welcomed by everyone everywhere nowadays). Dealing with this lot exposes us to very dangerous vendettas. They operate in a world without border / immigration barriers. They criss-cross the globe in their own private jets: one day they're having Heston Blumenthal cooking for them, the next they're in St. Barths hanging with Roman Abramovich, and the third meeting with ex-WSJ hacks, former Manhattan prosecutors and leaders from America's GOP, when not cavorting with the very best of Sloanes in London. Their reach knows no constraints either. A London raid can be easily organized from Caracas, without as much as a worry of ever getting caught. That's the kind this site deals with.The latest comes from Russia, or more specifically, an IP address controlled from Russia ( A vulnerability in the Wordpress blogging platform allows the pingback method to be used to launch DDoS attacks (explanation here). Basically, someone makes use of that vulnerability to ping a target website. Checking my server logs, I noticed the following pattern:"GET / HTTP/1.1" 200 32295 "" "WordPress/4.7.2;; verifying pingback from""GET / HTTP/1.1" 200 32293 "" "WordPress/4.6.3;; verifying pingback from""GET / HTTP/1.0" 200 145833 "-" "WordPress/4.0.15;; verifying pingback from"When that request is repeated many thousands of times per second servers tend to collapse due to increased traffic, as was the case with mine. Thousands of such requests, as well as POST and HEAD requests, were launched from servers around the world.However, IP, as all others, is associated to a host provider, in this case DMZHOST.CO. Said domain, as all others, is in turn registered by a person, somewhere, in this case a Christian P, with an address in the Seychelles very similar to that of Mossack Fonseca (Oliaji Trade Centr[...]

FusionGPS steps in it (again): now about Trump


Let us start with the NYT's headline "How a Sensational, Unverified Dossier Became a Crisis for Donald Trump", and a quote:Fusion GPS, headed by a former Wall Street Journal journalist known for his dogged reporting, Glenn Simpson, most often works for business clients. But in presidential elections, the firm is sometimes hired by candidates, party organizations or donors to do political “oppo” work — shorthand for opposition research — on the side. It is routine work and ordinarily involves creating a big, searchable database of public information: past news reports, documents from lawsuits and other relevant data. For months, Fusion GPS gathered the documents and put together the files from Mr. Trump’s past in business and entertainment, a rich target.Report from Guido Fawkes site.News about the unverified dossier have gone round the world a few times by now. Buzzfeed, the site that decided to go public with the "report" produced by Fusion GPS, certainly hasn't covered itself in glory: some of the most reputed liberal media outlets (BBC, NYT, The Guardian and WaPo) refused to touch it, even though they'd love to claim Trump's scalp.There's already some talk about the similarities between Hugo Chavez and Donald Trump, especially in the way the president-elect treats non-compliant media. But I digress.What I'm finding remarkable about this, is that Fusion GPS was in the news in the past for, precisely, its ethical and moral deficit. Here's a quote attributed to Simpson:"We’re hoping that people who have an interest in bringing things out, to do something about corruption, fraud, will come to us."Well, if attempting to destroy Republican donors -or its perceived GOP enemies- doesn't work, there's always a gig to be had with the Democrats. It does crack me up however, to read, in The Guardian no less, stuff like: "Fusion GPS, led by former journalists skilled in digging up secrets on public figures." Skilled?I know better. Fusion GPS were (may still be?) in the employ of Derwick Associates, without a shred of a doubt one of the most corrupt group of thugs ever to have come out of Venezuela. The sort of "businessmen" that have no qualms in stealing over one billion USD from an almost destitute country. Fusion's "former journalists", of course, don't have a problem with corruption, so long as billable hours keep adding up.Glenn Simpson managed to get a few quid from the Derwick thugs. He dispatched his sidekick Peter Fritsch to Caracas once upon a time, along with another equally contemptible and disgusting former "prosecutor", basically to impede journalists from carrying on with, erm, corruption reporting.Fusion GPS's Peter Fritsch's record of visit to Hotel Lido in Caracas in July 2014.I happen to know one of the "skilled" journalists at Fusion GPS, Tom Catan. He covered Venezuela's 2006 presidential race for The Times of London, and as I was shadowing the opposition candidate, I was asked to organise an interview. We met a few years later, in Spain, when, again, I helped with another interview. I invited the guy to my house for dinner, we broke bread together, talked, had a few drinks with my family... He seemed, then, a decent enough person. Imagine my surprise when I found out that his firm was retained to destroy me on behalf of Derwick Associates. I confronted him with the kind of tactics they so readily employ with their targets. His reply dispelled my doubts as to his integrity.But then, Derwick thugs decided to crank it up a little. My family was the subject of illegal surveillance in London. We were photographed going about our daily affairs for months. The operation culminated with a break into my flat, theft of my laptops, and threats of sexual abuse against my daughters. Now that I read about Simpson's connection to a former British MI6 agent, I wonder: did Fusion GPS participated in the attack against my family? Did it subcontract former British intelligence officers to track me down in London?To be frank, I doubt that British spooks -regardless of how spinele[...]

Our Odebrecht, our Petrobras...


So Odebrecht is in the news again (here and here). For those who don't know, Odebrecht was, till not long ago, one of Brazil's "success" stories: a construction company with operations spanning the globe. It was an exhibit of South America's "entrepreneurship" until Brazilian Justice Sergio Moro decided to take a closer look into the company's activities in the context of Petrobras' massive corruption scandal.The core of the issue is, of course, bribe payments to obtain procurement contracts. Odebrecht was at it, as much as any other company, big or small, from LatAm or otherwise, getting deals from governments in the region. That is just how business is done in that part of the world. Whenever procurement contracts aren't assigned directly, using whatever legal emergency provision that allows it, bidding processes tend to be rigged before start: a method typically favoured would be that all companies participating in a given open bid would be under ultimate control of same people.Brazil's economy is many times the size of Venezuela's. Odebrecht is one of Brazil's largest and most "successful" corporations. 38% of Odebrecht foreign work is meant to originate in Venezuela, where amount of procurement granted since chavismo took over is believed to be over $20 billion. Odebrecht has admitted to a scheme whereby, according to the Justice Department, it "paid approximately $788 million in bribes to government officials, their representatives and political parties in a number of countries in order to win business in those countries." Braskem, a petrochemical company controlled by Odebrecht, also pleaded guilty in the international bribe payment scheme.And yet, we are meant to believe that of the $788 million Odebrecht only paid $98 million in bribes in Venezuela, to obtain over $20 billion worth of public contracts. This doesn't add up. Regardless of how involved Lula and Dilma Rousseff were in securing contracts directly from Hugo Chavez as a quid pro quo for donations made by Odebrecht to their Workers' Party (PT), $98 million is not even 0.5% of total value. Hardly believable.Justice Department's authorities, as commendable as their international fight against corruption is, used some lofty language referring to the case:“Odebrecht and Braskem used a hidden but fully functioning Odebrecht business unit—a ‘Department of Bribery,’ so to speak—that systematically paid hundreds of millions of dollars to corrupt government officials in countries on three continents,” said Deputy Assistant Attorney General Suh.  “Such brazen wrongdoing calls for a strong response from law enforcement, and through a strong effort with our colleagues in Brazil and Switzerland, we have seen just that.  I hope that today’s action will serve as a model for future efforts.”“These resolutions are the result of an extraordinary multinational effort to identify, investigate and prosecute a highly complex and long-lasting corruption scheme that resulted in the payment by the defendant companies of close to a billion dollars in bribes to officials at all levels of government in many countries,” said U.S. Attorney Capers. “In an attempt to conceal their crimes, the defendants used the global financial system – including the banking system in the United States – to disguise the source and disbursement of the bribe payments by passing funds through a series of shell companies.  The message sent by this prosecution is that the United States, working with its law enforcement partners abroad, will not hesitate to hold responsible those corporations and individuals who seek to enrich themselves through the corruption of the legitimate functions of government, no matter how sophisticated the scheme.”“This case illustrates the importance of our partnerships and the dedicated personnel who work to bring to justice those who are motivated by greed and act in their own best interest,” said Assistant Director Richardson.  “The FBI will not stand by idly while [...]

Entrevista a Armando Valladares sobre muerte de Fidel Castro


Emb. Armando ValladaresLa muerte del tirano Fidel Castro ha producido una avalancha de apologías a nivel mundial. Desde el primer ministro de India hasta el de Canada, todos los idiotas útiles del planeta se han pronunciado, sin rubor alguno, sobre las inexistentes bondades de la dictadura castrista. Por ello pensé apropiado entrevistar a alguien que si tuvo que sufrir la dizque "liberación" que los barbudos impusieron por la fuerza en Cuba. Armando Valladares, escritor, poeta, y prisionero de conciencia por 22 años, es aparte de cubano, víctima del castrismo. Quién mejor, para explicar la realidad cubana? Armando es además, quizás la única persona en el mundo que se puede dar el lujo de afirmar que sus acciones como embajador de los EEUU ante la Comisión de los Derechos Humanos de las Naciones Unidas derrotaron la propaganda y diplomacia castrista en marzo de 1988, lo cual forzó a Cuba a abrir las puertas a observadores internacionales, algo que Fidel nunca habría permitido. Dicha acción puso a Cuba, por primera vez, en la categoría correspondiente a regímenes con graves violaciones a los derechos humanos.- Pregunta: "Si Fidel es comunista, que me pongan en la lista”. De dónde salió ese eslogan, considerando las afirmaciones del propio Castro a Erik Durschmied en Sierra Maestra negando que era comunista / marxista?Respuesta: Ese slogan fue una campana del Partido Comunista preparando al pueblo para cuando Fidel Castro admitiera que era comunista, no tuviera mucho rechazo. Decían si lo que esta haciendo Fidel Castro -dando tierras (no en propiedad) a los campesinos, rebajando los alquileres etc-, si eso era ser comunista, pues también somos comunistas.- Puedes narrar la causa de tu arresto y encarcelamiento por 22 años?Respuesta: Yo era funcionario del gobierno revolucionario. Un día milicianos armados fueron por todos los departamentos del Ministerio de Comunicaciones colocando en los escritorios un slogan que decía: "si Fidel es comunista, que me pongan en la lista, que estoy de acuerdo con él”. Yo me negué. Los milicianos me preguntaron: "Tu no estás de acuerdo con Fidel…?- Si es comunista NO"- fue mi respuesta. Eso fue suficiente para señalarme como un desafecto a la Revolución, como un contrarrevolucionario. Semanas después me arrestaron en mi casa. Registraron todo y no encontraron armas, ni explosivos, ni propaganda, NADA QUE PUDIERA comprometerme como un conspirador. El oficial de la Policía Política que me interrogo, me dijo: "Mira, no hemos encontrado nada, nadie te acusa, pero tenemos la convicción moral de que eres un enemigo potencial de la Revolución, y por eso te vamos a condenar." En un juicio revolucionario integrado por campesinos, sin abogado defensor, en menos de una semana desde el arresto, fui condenado a 30 años de trabajos forzados y 30 de interdicción política. Mi caso no es excepcional, miles hubo condenados de esa misma forma. Recuerda que los juicios en épocas de Stalin eran así, solo por pensar u opinar los mandaban a Siberia. En Cuba fue exactamente igual.- Tu libro “Contra toda esperanza” se convirtió en uno de los libros mas importantes de la literatura sobre prisioneros de conciencia a nivel mundial. Qué opinión te merecen quienes celebran a Castro como liberador del pueblo cubano?Respuesta: Los que apoyan y justifican los crímenes de los tiranos, pasarán a la historia como cómplices  de esos crímenes. Los carniceros de sus pueblos siempre han tenido seguidores y simpatizantes. Los tuvo y tiene Stalin, Hitler, Pinochet, Pol Pot y Ieng Sari de Cambodia, y los tiene Fidel Castro. Uno de ellos es el canadiense Justine Trudeau, que Cuba lo tiene comprometido por filmaciones intimas de sus frecuentes viajes a Cuba. Un día, y todo llega, esas filmaciones se harán públicas, sera un Wikileak escandaloso, especialmente para los familiares de esos “amigos” de la revolución cubana. Todo llega... Todo se sabe.- Fue tu encarcelamiento un caso aislado, o [...]



Remember this? It wasn't that long ago, was it? Lessons haven't been learned. If anything, the will of the people has been redefined, by almost all media, in most countries, as a retrograde manifestation that ought to be repudiated at every available opportunity.But who are the creators of the new dogma? Who are the new oracles, seers, and high priests of post modern morality? Do their knowledge spring from sacred scriptures? From where do these prophets derive their wisdom? What makes their capacity to interpret reality so unique, that only their anointed peers can see it?We live in an era of fanaticism, of nihilistic delusion. The motto "après moi le déluge" has lost its reflexive connotation, and has morphed into a collective utopia that inhabits the minds and thoughts of educated elites up and down this world. The shared creed is not to be questioned, and crucially not challenged. Democracy no longer fits the purpose. Consensus? Only to pledge absolute loyalty to the "new" normal. Any deviation from the grand diktats of the PC establishment is to be derided, mocked, ridiculed, and exposed as epitomes of racism, misogyny, ignorance, insularity and brutality across all social, political, religious, academic and media channels under their control. A singular unity and conformity characterises the narrative of this collectivity, as in the most fanatic of sects.Interpretations and discourse aren't derived from observation. Consultation does not inform argumentation. Fanatics feed their worldview solely and exclusively from other cabal members. No outside perspective is allowed to pollute considerations. The "new" reality is a construct, wherein poverty, unemployment, and disease do not exist. Worse still, aspirations are forbidden. People that do not know what it is to go hungry, to lose a home, to be chronically unemployed; people that can not see the pitfalls of public education and its consequences, and are incapable of recognising, much less of empathising, with the other are meant to be beacons of morality that should be followed blindly. Only full allegiance will do.It is concerning that such an infantile dystopia is shared among many of the Western world's "experts", intellectuals and "cool" politicos, for whom the poor are repugnant, a "basket of deplorables." And it is pervasive, almost omnipresent, Gramscian. Those who vote, and do so with their pockets, stomachs, or feet, deserve nothing but ostracism. Electoral results contrary to those expected by interest-in-possession life tenants, Claret-sipping Guardianistas, and assorted members of the status quo can only bring about cataclysmic chaos, ungovernability: the end of times.Hope can only be had for aligned candidates. Revolution? Only against perceived enemies (imperialism, capitalism, etc.) Only the right can be corrupt, and abuse power. Only right-wingers can be racist, and misogynistic. The Big Dog can't do wrong, victims of his predatory sexual abuses are nothing but gold diggers. It is perfectly fine, and beyond reproach, to illegally conduct affairs of State from the kitchen, breach duty of care, and abuse position in get-rich-quick schemes sanctioned by "non for profit" organisations.Donald Trump is a piece of work, no doubt. And perhaps America is the only place, well Italy comes to mind, where such a flawed character could reach the highest office. But the Clintons? I mean, seriously? Trump is certainly a member of that establishment that American voters seem so keen on getting rid of. He is as amoral, crooked, and every bit as selfish and megalomaniac as the other two. But instead of making himself unelectable by insulting the electorate, he employed that tried and tested method of telling people what they wanted to hear, something true believers are simply unwilling to even contemplate. American institutions will now have to deal with the resulting mess, checks and balances will guarantee observance to rule of law. Trump is just one clown[...]

That most insolent democracy...


The world at large is incensed. Livid. F%&£ pissed off. Imagine the Brits. The bloody Brits, or Little Englanders as they are now commonly known. They have dared to vote against the grain, against integration, against Christine Lagarde, Barack Obama AND The Guardian! The nerve... Aaaaaarrrrgggghhhh!!!! No joda! El coño de su puta madre con los ingleses!Brexit's what you get when you let democracy stand in the way of the grand diktats, the Master Plan, of the PC, progressive, metropolitan, über educated brigade. "How come my vote and that of a chronically unemployed person carries the same weight?" I heard a distinguished-looking Remainer express in utmost indignation in a pub in chic Primrose Hill. Racism works only when Little Englanders decide to exercise their inalienable right to self determination, you see? The Guardianistas know better than anyone else, you dear reader included, what's in everyone else's best interest.If an alien had landed from Mars on Friday, it could be forgiven for thinking that life in the British Isles started in 1973. For it was only after acceding to the European Economic Community that the United Kingdom's history started. Forget its rich and illustrious history. Forget the days of Empire and Magna Carta. Forget British idiosyncrasy and their sheer irreverence. Forget also their sense of fairness. Forget Britain's cultural, scientific, political, social, financial, military, academic and democratic additions to human knowledge. None existed. Ever. Eccentricity never took root in these lands. Europeans aren't, all of them, crying Heil Führer every morning because of the resolve, alliances, ingenuity and grit of Brits and Americans. No. They are the free bunch they are today thanks to that Luxembourger architect of one of the world's largest tax avoidance schemes and his sidekicks.The experts... Where should I start with them? For almost 17 years I have been hearing "the experts" say that Hugo Chavez is the best thing to have happened in Venezuela. The same "experts" have been diligently affirming that Fidel Castro is the best thing to have happened to Cuba, after all he created one of the "world's best health system". Their knowledge reaches every corner of the world. From China to America (Yanks also riled them when they voted -twice- for W). They sit in Islington, or somewhere in the City, yet they know better than any Arab, Latino, African, Indian or a New Yorker what's in their best interest. Racism does not get any more omniscient than this.I never thought I would see the day, to be honest. Being a radical anti chavista earned me the enmity of "the experts" a long time ago. I thought it was just something reserved to little indians and brown people born far away, like in Venezuela for instance. But no. Oh no. Born and bred Brits get exactly the same treatment by sophisticated types. Their voices don't count. That Brexit result? Invalid. Not binding. Irrelevant. Useless. "Let's have it again" they say. "A second referendum is needed". Venezuela is the laughinstock of the Americas because its government is contesting electoral results reached by the people, by the majority. Well, who would have guessed that the whole world's establishment is behaving pretty much like Nicolas Maduro, with respect to the choice voted by the majority of the British people? Jamie Dimon and George Osborne (Reuters).David Cameron is to go (a Brexit bonus). To be frank, he can't soon enough. Hopefully he'll take that odious and wretched Chancellor with him. I am sure Jamie Dimon will offer them a juicy package. There's also Lagarde, or a cosy half a million quid role in some multilateral or quango where they can continue applying their "expertise" on a part-time consultancy basis. Alas the political situation isn't getting any better. There's fratricide going on at the nasty people's party, while Labour is led by someone infatuated with Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro.Bre[...]

My beef with #DerwickRamosAllup


Some folks are calling it a triumph of politics. Others are singing the praises of a politico whose greatest achievement, to date, is to have outmaneuvered a bunch of green, hapless politicians that are totally unaccountable to their constituents. And yet others are just fawning. In Venezuela's absolutely destitute and desperate society, even people who should know better are happily spreading the HenryPonlesunParao hashtag...My beef with Henry Derwick Ramos Allup is quite simple. About two weeks after some chavista thugs broke into my flat, in London, to steal my laptops and to leave pictures of my daughters to terrorise and silence me, Mr Ramos Allup thought fitting to use his position, as Secretary General of Acción Democrática, to attack me, claiming (highlighted in picture):...blogueros delincuentes prófugos de la justicia nacional e internacional por delitos de narcotráfico, atraco, violación y lesiones...Translation:...delinquent bloggers, wanted by local and international justice for drug trafficking, assault, sexual abuse and injuries... Though Ramos Allup did not mention it explicitly, every one knew he was referring to me. Why would Ramos Allup write that I was allegedly wanted for drug trafficking, etc.? What was the basis, where was the evidence?Ramos Allup had been fed highly defamatory, and totally spurious, claims about me. The source of those claims, which Ramos Allup presumably had no reason to question, was his own family. For it has to be said and repeated, loud and clear, that Henry Ramos Allup, newly elected president of Venezuela's Congress, is the brother in law of Francisco D'Agostino, one of the Associates at Derwick. Henry Ramos Allup is married to Diana D'Agostino, Francisco's sister. The patriarch of the D'Agostino family is Franco: one of the most corrupt contractors of the period now known in Venezuela as "la cuarta republica", i.e. the 40 years that preceded Hugo Chavez's election. allowfullscreen="" class="YOUTUBE-iframe-video" data-thumbnail-src="" frameborder="0" height="266" src="" width="320"> I challenged Ramos Allup to show evidence of his claims, and I am -still- waiting for a reply. Ramos Allup loves to claim that his use and command of the Spanish language is "impeccable", and yet, he wrote a libellous piece that does not contain a single shred of verifiable evidence, admitting that it was based on an anonymous report that he had received in an unmarked envelope. So here we have, the incoming Chair of Venezuela's Congress attacking innocent people on the basis of anonymous reports received from unknown sources.In his utter chutzpah, Ramos Allup even claimed that he knows what has gone on with media acquisitions in Venezuela (first exposed here, and here), going as far as saying that those selling may have problems explaining source of funds when trying to get them out of Venezuela. He even mentions a Portuguese bank where Derwick has stashed some of its ill gotten money. Surely, he must have issued similar warnings over the years to his brother in law and father in law, right?Is this the kind of politico that will get the new Congress to put a stop to rampant corruption in Venezuela? I shall wear as a badge of honour that both outgoing Chair of Congress #narcodiosdado and incoming Chair #DerwickRamosAllup have blocked me on Twitter, for in my view corruption has no political colour, it's like human rights and it admits only one stance: for or against.[...]

Roberto Rincon arrested in Houston for money laundering


The news in the Venezuelan Twitter sphere last night was the arrest in Houston (unconfirmed by official sources as of this writing) of Roberto Rincon and Abraham Shiera.

Journalist Casto Ocando said on Twitter that Rincon had been arrested for money laundering in association with Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), adding that members of a "Homeland Security's elite unit of financial of crimes had been investigating Rincon for years" prior to his arrest.

Sources consulted confirmed, extra officially, that Rincon and Shiera had indeed been arrested.

Journalist Cesar Batiz did a thorough profile on Rincon and his business empire.

Further leaks to this site reveal an interesting detail: right after Hugo Carvajal was arrested in Aruba by the DEA, Rincon (an long time partner of Carvajal) started traveling on a diplomatic passport, no 0841947189, as shown in picture (below). Furthermore, when Dutch authorities in Aruba decided to release Carvajal, (since 2008 in OFAC kingpins list for "materially assisting the narcotics trafficking activities of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a narco-terrorist organization") on some technicality (more on pressure from chavista regime) Rincon's plane (N9GY) took Carvajal back to Venezuela.

And who do we see, as a regular passenger since Feb 2010 of Rincon's N9GY jet? None other than Abraham Shiera, also arrested with Rincon. For a backgrounder on both Rincon and Shiera (and other respected members of the chavista Boliburgeoisie) and their virtual spin doctor of choice, Setty has a thorough investigation here

Venezuelan immigration records show Rincon and Shiera using a fleet of N-plate jets for their travels: N999GY, N91GY, N9GY, N723AA, N200CV, N604RR, N112WJ, N840TC, N713SA, N900DL, N727AT, N556HJ, and N245MS. Lots of trip between Maracaibo and Bogota, Aruba, Panama, Ft Lauderdale, and Miami.




Still trying to come to terms with the enormity of what happened in Venezuela a couple days ago. Still difficult to believe that a bunch of thugs, otherwise knows as chavismo, with so many skeletons in their closets, with so much to lose, with their immediate freedom in great peril, sort of gave up, conceding an election. An election, in Venezuela, just like that.Now I'm on the record, railing against the fairness and transparency of what's come to be known as the "world's best electoral system." I am perhaps the Venezuelan blogger that has written more on the topic. My investigation into the way in which Smartmatic came to be the provider of choice for electoral processes in Venezuela started sometime in 2004, and is still ongoing. The website I created and used to run,, published in 2006 perhaps the first ever audit, in English, of Venezuela's electoral roll. In 2007, Hugo Chavez thought he would become Emperor of Venezuela. He proposed such far ranging amendments to the constitution, that even his own followers turned their backs and didn't back it up. We are still waiting for the final results of that vote, the only one Chavez ever lost. In August 2004, there was a recall referendum on Chavez's stay in power. After years of negotiations between opposition parties' representatives, government and international mediators, Venezuelan electoral authorities announced, in the early hours of the morning as it has become norm, that Chavez had won by an almost 20% margin. No one checked that results announced were correct. No one could. As a matter of historical fact, no observer, international or otherwise, was allowed to witness the final tally. Opposition representatives did not have a clue of what was happening within the bowels of the Ministry of Elections. Carter Center and OAS representatives fucked up, big time, in safeguarding ballot boxes in the places where they were stationed, and in further guaranteeing that the joke of an audit conducted three days after was done properly. In 2005, an opposition technician showed during an audit in front of international observers that the secrecy of the vote was compromised. Another audit, of the electoral roll organized by the electoral body, ended up concluding that the roll simply wasn't fit for purpose.All of that hung in my mind, like a hanged body. Like something you just can't ignore when trying to inform a decision on whether the electoral, under such circumstances, was ever to become a viable solution to get rid of chavismo's power stranglehold. I became an advocate, and wrote countless words about how the opposition, armed with nothing but current legislation, should demand conditions, as dictated by law. I railed against the opposition, endlessly, for accepting the unilateral, and illegal, imposition of unfair electoral conditions. Time and time again I argued what I thought was only fair, and self evident.So count me among those who were skeptical about elections in Venezuela, among those who denigrated an opposition leadership that never stood up for our electoral rights. But then Sunday happened (6D). With all of the above, against a State that bracenly used all power available to it, legal and otherwise, Venezuelans voted massively against chavismo, against the hunger, violence, misery and, above all, against the hardship that chavismo has unleashed like a curse on Venezuela. I will be hated for this, but I will call it a punishment vote (voto castigo). Venezuelans, chavistas or not, voted against chavismo. The monumental clusterfuck that Venezuela has become is chavismo's, and chavismo's only, legacy. But within it, in its defined political context, I admit I was never expecting such a quick, zanahoria, give up. People with so much at stake aren't supposed to give up without a proper fight. In all honesty I never thought this would hap[...]

Chavista propaganda brings disrepute to Foreign Policy


Got late to the party, must admit. The discussion at hand is -yet another- exhibit of yellow journalism, this time by the otherwise reputed Foreign Policy magazine.In short, a propagandist of the Maduro regime was caught, as we say, "cagando y sin papel". Before anyone thinks that my use of the term propagandist is inaccurate, or unfair, here we have Mr Rob Lovato, described as a "writer and scholar", who does not find relevant to disclose to publications that presumably commission jobs to him, to reveal professional relations that bring unavoidable conflicts of interests.So let's say that the editors of Foreign Policy got a "profile" of Leopoldo Lopez (Vzlan opposition leader recently condemned to nearly 14 years imprisonment) from Mr Lovato. Given that the piece was meant to have been "reported in partnership with The Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute, with support from the Puffin Foundation", one must presume that necessary editorial consideration was given to the facts presented by all editors involved.After publication, information about Mr Lovato's professional relations with TELESUR surfaced. To those who may have missed it, TELESUR is a Pan-American, Venezuela-funded, chavista "news" channel, as trustworthy and objective as Putin's Russia Today. It remains to be seen whether Lovato disclosed to Foreign Policy and The Nation that he had been previously contracted by TELESUR to do some programs, and later produced the "profile" on Lopez.According to Lopez's lawyers and Pedro Burelli (mentioned throughout Lovato's piece) the article contains several inaccuracies, which Foreign Policy seems to be aggregating as "clarifications and corrections" at the end of the article.But now we know that Lovato has been taking cues from Venezuela Information Office propagandists in Hugo Chavez's employ since, at least, September 2007, when Mr Lovato was a writer for New America Media and The Nation, and was being asked by chavistas to, basically, "publish oped": read regurgitate propaganda.The two images above come from FARA reports filed by the now-extinct Venezuela Information Office, a Venezuelan government-financed and Venezuelan embassy-managed "information office" run from Washington DC. Did Lovato ever disclose this to The Nation and Foreign Policy?Chavistas are having a ball with U.S. media these days. Whether is Bloomberg, Forbes or Foreign Policy, it seems to be getting easier for sly operators to get past clueless editors that can't be bothered to apply a minimum of editorial rigour to demonstrably unsubstantiated BS.[...]

CAJUBI fraud: Marcelo Barone arrested in London


Marcelo Barone and Elisabel Vazquez (photo from ABC Color, Paraguay)
Readers might remember an investigation / collaboration I did in 2012 with Mabel Renhfeldt from Paraguay about a Venezuelan couple, Marcelo Barone and Elisabel Vazquez, who had defrauded some $36 million from a workers' fund in CAJUBI, the Brazilian-Paraguayan entity in charge of running Itaipu's dam.

As it turns, Barone, who was running from Paraguayan justice and is listed as wanted by INTERPOL along wife / partner in crime Vazquez, was finally arrested in London on 23 August according to Paraguayan media. A hearing in London today will determine whether Barone is released on bail, or whether he will remain in jail until January 2016 as per Paraguay's extradition request process.

Details of the whereabouts of Vazquez remain sketchy. Some reports claim Vazquez is in a clinic somewhere in London, while others suggest she was also arrested.

It is a matter of great pride to have collaborated in this investigation, and to see that authorities in some parts of the world are actually doing something against corruption.(image)

Steal over a billion > Bloomberg'll call it 'family feud'


The message from the Bloomberg reporter read:"Hi, I'm a reporter doing something on Derwick. Can I give you a call to ask a couple of questions?"By this time, it's evident emails and calls are standard procedure of journalists / researchers reporting Venezuela, just to cover their backs and say "yeah, we called the guy, he gave us the usual about Mr Betancourt and his Derwick co..."While I admit it is utterly unprofessional to be posting emails sent privately without the other party's consent, I just can't honor convention with reporters that epitomise unprofessionalism. After receiving the message above I called the reporter, and answered the "couple of questions" and more. But this is precisely the problem of editorial desks and journalists around the world: to think that a meaningful story can be produced by asking "a couple of questions". Invariably, initial niceties are followed by "I don't know anything about Venezuela..." or "this story is well beyond my area of expertise..."When one asks clueless reporters what would happen in their countries should a Derwick-like scandal take place, all of them, without failure, say "yeah, I guess you're right, it would be a scandal, heads would roll..."So why the difference? Why is it that reporting corruption-related issues in America and Europe gain lots of traction, catapult to stardom whoever brings them to light, official probes ensue, but doing same about under-developed countries gets spun into 'family feuds'?Venezuelans can only feel envy at what's happening in Brazil, with Petrobras, Odebrecht, etc. That however, as dramatic as it may seem, is children's play next to what goes on in our country. Corruption in PDVSA and Venezuela is orders of magnitude larger that whatever's been done in Brazil, and yet, Venezuela's most notorious gang of corrupt businessmen are presented as entrepreneurial mavericks. This is beyond sickening, and not the first time that Bloomberg misrepresents Venezuelan thugs.Once upon a time, Forbes was made to retract an attempt at whitewashing Derwick, but they seem to have a soft spot for Bolichoros. Same goes with Bloomberg and its reporting of Derwick. Money laundering of the multimillion dollar kind is called "growth plan". Corruption, bribes, no-bid contracting and misappropriation of public funds through massive overcharges by Derwick execs is called "a family divided over his business dealings with Chavez’s government." Probes by U.S. Federal agencies, Manhattan's DA, and Spain's anti money laundering authorities, and investigative reports exposing lack of credentials get summarised as "certain relatives who weren’t happy". Doublespeak that would make Goebbels, or chavismo, proud.Bloomberg's hacks are yet to awake to the realities of Venezuelan corruption. Producing copy, without asking any proper questions, seem to be their sole remit. And that would be fine, if it weren't a business-oriented publication. As it is, failing to establish clear and evident links between shell companies and proxies of thugs being investigated in at least two jurisdictions is inexcusable, hard to take it as mere unprofessionalism. Failing to mention forays into business areas unrelated to Derwick's alleged expertise is equally concerning, for it is now common knowledge that Derwick has a hand in Petrodelta -through Francisco D'Agostino- and in Petrozamora -through Orlando Alvarado, in association with PDVSA and Russian interests (Gazprom). Why is this not mentioned?When did Derwick become an oil-focused company and what credentials, aside the stolen millions that allowed for such, have their execs? What track record -in oil- do they bring to the table? Why is Bloomberg regurgitating Derwick's BS instead of asking questions pertinent to shareholders and inter[...]

Pacific Rubiales wakes up to O'Hara / Derwick Associates money laundering scam


O'Hara Administration Co., S.A. ("O'Hara") calls upon its fellow minority shareholders of Pacific Rubiales Energy Corp. ("Pacific Rubiales") to VOTE AGAINST the special resolution (the "Arrangement Resolution") to approve an arrangement whereby ALFA S.A.B. de C.V. ("ALFA") and Harbour Energy Ltd. ("Harbour") are proposing to acquire all of the issued and outstanding common shares ("Common Shares") of Pacific Rubiales for C$6.50 per share (the "Proposed Arrangement"). O'Hara believes that the Proposed Arrangement undervalues the Common Shares, is opportunistic given current market volatility, inappropriately incentivizes management at the expense of the minority shareholders and is not in the best interests of the minority shareholders. You got to give it to these thugs. Boldness isn't something they lack. For here we have, a "group of investors", with no verifiable track record in oil & gas, anywhere on earth, represented by none other than Orlando Alvarado (Derwick Associates CFO), that mere days before Pacific was to announce ALFA's offer just happened to take an interest in Pacific, and in quick succession acquired nearly 20% of its shares. Opportunistic? Nooooo, just take Alvarado's word for it.Pacific was caught napping, no doubt. It remains to be seen who leaked what, or how did Derwick find out about ALFA's impending announcement. What is unobjectionable is that once it did, Derwick reacted very quickly AND did the utmost to maintain its connection to O'Hara hidden. That is, of course, until I got information from Barbados registrar of companies about IPC Investments, one of the vehicles used by O'Hara and controlled by Alejandro Betancourt, Derwick's CEO. Then another shell controlled by Betancourt popped up in Pacific's shares purchase: Agency Partners, a vehicle used by Betancourt to buy a flat in Miami's Jade Ocean. It was then reported that Volbor Trading, O'Hara Administration, and Telmaven Overseas were three other shells controlled by Betancourt through Alvarado.Pacific seems to have realised the dangers of allowing itself to be used by Betancourt & co for what amounts to a naked money laundering attempt. It announced some counter actions yesterday:Pacific Rubiales Energy Corp. (TSX: PRE) (BVC: PREC) today announced that, after receiving approval from the Independent Committee of the Board of Directors, the Company is filing an application (the "Application") before the Supreme Court of British Columbia (the "Court") in connection with the proposed arrangement involving the Company, ALFA, S.A.B. de C.V. ("ALFA"), Harbour Energy, L.P., Harbour Energy Ltd. ("Harbour Energy") and 1035815 B.C. Ltd. (the "Purchaser"), pursuant to which the Purchaser would acquire all of the outstanding common shares of the Company ("Common Shares") not already owned by ALFA or held by the Company in treasury for cash consideration of C$6.50 per share (the "Arrangement"). The Application is being filed in response to significant concerns raised by Pacific Rubiales shareholders about how members of a group of Shareholders acting jointly and in concert led by O'Hara Administration Co., S.A. ("O'Hara") and Alejandro Betancourt (collectively, the "O'Hara Group") acquired their Common Shares.In its release, Pacific asks a number of pertinent questions:Who is O'Hara? What is their investment track record in oil and gas? What is their history of corporate governance? How long have they owned their Common Shares? What is the O'Hara Group's relationship with Derwick Associates? Why is their circular lacking disclosure on these material issues? What are they trying to hide?I feel like I can answer that.O'Hara is but a vehicle chosen by Alejandro Betancourt and his partners to "diversify", given th[...]

Robert Hanson shows how to vanish Venezuela's largest newspaper conglomerate from books


Here's the background. In short, a London socialite called Robert Hanson (pictured), son of Margaret Thatcher's "favourite tycoon", purportedly "bought" in late 2013 Cadena Capriles, Venezuela's largest newspaper conglomerate.The operation was, of course, a sham intended to hide Cadena Capriles ultimate controlling party. Through special purpose vehicles created solely to keep chavista names hidden from view, Hanson set up a shell in Curaçao called Latam Media Holding N.V., dispatched to Caracas his associate Patrick Teroerde, who "paid" over 90 million USD, and got hold, along with chavista banker Victor Vargas of Banco Occidental de Descuento, of Cadena Capriles. The Curaçao shell is managed by TMF Curaçao N.V. although Venezuelan reports claimed that London-based Hanson Asset Management (HAM) owned Latam Media Holding.  HAM returns are freely available in Companies House beta website.There are some interesting bits in Hanson Asset Management accounts made up to 31 March 2014. For instance this: Could Hanson Holdings Lux SARL have been used to purchase Cadena Capriles, to then be given to somebody else for a profit of £3,611? We'll have to check Luxembourg's records...But then, there's this other bit:Net assets amounting to £1,437,409 at 31 March 2014? So if Cadena Capriles is not hidden in Luxembourg (a jurisdiction favoured by media-loving chavistas), where is it?Hanson Investment Holdings Limited, interestingly incorporated in December 2013, has not filed accounts as yet. Teroerde has got one share in it and Hanson Capital Limited -with a declared capital of £50,000- has another. What happened then to that asset bought in Venezuela for over 90 million USD? A look into the purchase of Spanish magazine Cambio16 exposed a few dodgy connections between high ranking chavistas, boligarchs, PDVSA, Bell Pottinger and French investment firm Lazard. Both Lazard and Hanson are acquainted with Bell Pottinger, and all three have been engaged in illegal deals in Venezuela recently. While no investigation in a country described as a narcostate will flush out Hanson's partners, UK authorities should perhaps follow the American example and launch proper investigations into massive corruption rackets taking place in London. For one thing is to front for Venezuelan white collar thugs, but for drug dealers? Quite another...[...]



Not everyday the WSJ graces its front page with news about TQNLQNSPM* stock, though surprisingly it did yesterday. Jose De Córdoba and Juan Forero brought it home with an extensive account on how several U.S. Federal Agencies, including the DEA, are basically closing in on Diosdado Cabello (pictured sporting a chic red beret), for turning the country into a narco-state. As one of Venezuela's foremost authorities on corruption, I am glad that a major U.S. news outlet finally exposed what's been vox populi for quite some time now.Those who haven't been paying attention will find the piece interesting, specially claims from authoritative sources about Cabello's role in the Sun's Cartel (Cartel de los Soles: so named for it is run by Venezuela's top brass, i.e. those who have suns insignia in their epaulettes):A leading target, according to a Justice Department official and other American authorities, is National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello, considered the country’s second most-powerful man. “There is extensive evidence to justify that he is one of the heads, if not the head, of the cartel,” said the Justice Department official, speaking of a group of military officers and top officials suspected of being involved in the drug trade. “He certainly is a main target.” De Córdoba and Forero cite a "Justice Department Official" who said that Venezuela is run by a "criminal organization". That much we also knew. Some key figures were left out however. No mention to Ramon Rodríguez Chacín, or Antonio José Morales Rodríguez (aka "el catre"), who, according to exiled Supreme Court Justice Eladio Aponte Aponte, called him to order the release of Pedro Maggino (from 21:18 in video). The archive comes handy:"... a trusted reader informs us that Majed Khalil is the bagman of General Francisco Rangel Gomez, former president of aluminium and mining giant Corporacion Venezolana de Guayana (CVG), current Governor of Bolivar state. Hence his deals with CVG. Majed Khalil is also a partner -and best man- of Lieutenant Antonio José Morales Rodríguez (aka "el catre"), godson and aide-de-camp of Hugo Chavez and one of his most trusted men. Morales is currently director of the office of the Secretary of Venezuela's Presidency. Morales has recently been fingered by former Supreme Court Judge Eladio Aponte Aponte as one of the men who ordered him to free an army drug trafficker (Pedro Maggino) caught with 2 tonnes of cocaine in Venezuela.So it is not only Leamsy Salazar, Cabello's former bodyguard featured throughout, who's witnessed involvement in drug trafficking at the very highest levels, Chavez's very own is also ear-deep in it, despite Oliver Stone's willingness to take a drug trafficker at face value.U.S. authorities could most certainly tap, at a moment's notice, on a vast network of Bolivarian thugs that have made the U.S. their playground. I'm thinking Francisco D'Agostino, Victor Vargas, Victor Gill, Roberto Rincón, José Zambrano, Rafael Sarria, Pedro Torres Ciliberto and his son Pedro Torres Picón, David Osío, Andrés Coles, Alejandro Andrade, Danilo Díaz Granados, Luis Oberto and his gang... Mind you there's no shortage of Venezuelans -whose ill gotten wealth came from deals with / sanctioned by Cabello- that could reveal the extent of his links to criminal activity. But then again, perhaps those mentioned, and then some, are part of the 56 Bolichoros whose visas have been withdrawn by the U.S. Government and are now singing in a desperate attempt to keep laundered proceeds.Sources have told me that numerous federal investigations are taking place in New York, Florida, and Texas, where chavista "businessmen" tend to [...]

Derwick Associates claims another victory against Otto Reich in NY bribery lawsuit


United States District Judge, J. Paul Oetken, dismissed former Western Hemisphere Affairs Secretary, Otto Reich, jurisdictional claims presented in a bribery lawsuit against Derwick Associates filed by the former diplomat in New York. In a stinging decision, Judge Oetken derides some of Reich's arguments about Derwick's executive Pedro Trebbau, stating:Plaintiffs offer essentially the same set of facts in support of jurisdiction over Trebbau, with one important exception: Trebbau neither owns nor rents any real estate in New York at all. Instead, Plaintiffs contend, his New York residence is the home of his friend and banker, Eduardo Travieso. Plaintiffs argue that “given Defendants’ wealth and stature, it is simply implausible that they could maintain their extravagant lifestyles in Venezuela—a violent, third- world country beset by rampant blackouts, food shortages and gross poverty.” (Plaintiffs’ Memorandum of Law in Opposition to Betancourt’s and Trebbau’s Motions to Dismiss, at 10 [Plaintiffs’ Memorandum].) And yet Plaintiffs would have the Court believe that a man of Trebbau’s estimable “wealth and stature” permanently intends to crash on his friend’s couch. (bold added)Judge Oetken's decision is a thing of beauty. It demonstrates, for one, that due process, when functioning as intended, is never encumbered with tangential stuff that has no direct bearing on the issue at hand, which is determining jurisdiction on the basis of facts presented in this particular instance.Having property, bank accounts, mortgages, visiting, and spending money in a place does not amount, in Judge Oetken's view, to being domiciled in that place. Ed Miliband would disagree though. So while Alejandro Betancourt -Derwick's CEO / $ third largest shareholder- admits to have just 35% of his total net worth in New York -Reich claims Betancourt keeps $68 million in NY banks- he is not domiciled in New York, and therefore New York courts have no jurisdiction over his affairs, as pertaining to bribery claims against Derwick Associates in the context of this lawsuit.Reich basically failed to demonstrate that Betancourt and Trebbau were domiciled in New York. That's what it came down to. The lawsuit never got to the juicy part: bribery allegations that could have shed light on the manner in which Derwick got over a billion dollars in 12 no-bid contracts from the Venezuelan State.In the meantime, US Federal Agencies and the Manhattan District Attorney's Office continue probing Derwick and its commercial activities. I have been told that there's a particular interest in exploring connections to Diosdado Cabello, who appears to have become target no 1 for US law enforcement interested in Venezuela.[...]

London's Met Police hunt for burglars of my flat


Background from Reuters.
Update: Bloomberg sort of confirms what I exposed, but lacks the integrity of describing Derwick's CFO (Orlando Alvarado) as Derwick CFO, claiming instead that Alvarado and his "partner" (boss Betancourt) are "private-sector businessmen with no ties to the government and prefer to remain anonymous"...

As per news report:
Published: 18 March, 2015 By ALINA POLIANSKAYA |  POLICE are looking to speak to three people in connection with a burglary in Primrose Hill, in which two computers were stolen from a flat.
The men were caught on CCTV inside the building, after being refused entry into the secure block by the porter. They tried buzzing for entry several times, between 8am and 9.45am on November 17 last year, and though they were denied access, they were later caught on camera in the building.
One suspect, who is described as Middle Eastern, aged approximately 40 and of medium build, was wearing a light brown jacket over a white shirt, a blue-grey scarf and grey flat cap. Another is aged around 25, of Mediterranean appearance and of slim build. He wore a shiny, red quilted jacket with white writing on the chest and crown of the hood, which was worn up. He also had on black lycra jogging bottoms The third suspect was a 40 to 50 year old white man, of medium build. He had a goatee beard and wore a grey hooded coat with a grey hat under the hoof and a grey scaf.
Police urge anyone who can identify these men or know where they are, to contact DC Stephanie Barron of Camden CID on 101.

Tambalea el chavismo


p { margin-bottom: 0.1in; direction: ltr; color: rgb(0, 0, 10); line-height: 120%; text-align: left; }p.western { font-family: "Cambria",serif; font-size: 12pt; }p.cjk { font-family: "Arial Unicode MS"; font-size: 12pt; }p.ctl { font-family: "Arial Unicode MS"; font-size: 12pt; }a:link { } Todo evento histórico cuenta con un momento decisivo. Propondré que la carrera política de Hugo Chavez no comenzó con el golpe de estado, sino con aquella entrevista en la cual se dirigió a la nación y pronunció el famoso “por ahora”. Aquel breve discurso capturó la imaginación de una sociedad, y catapultó al golpista al estrellato. A más de dos décadas de aquel momento, Venezuela se encuentra en una vergonzosa situación. No está igual, o mejor, que en 1992, o 1999, está peor, mucho peor, en cuanto renglón o aspecto mesurable se considere. En el 2015 ha ocurrido un evento que pudiera ser el principio del fin del chavismo. La Orden Ejecutiva del Presidente Barack Obama, congelando cuentas y bienes, y suspendiendo visas a siete esbirros del régimen de Nicolas Maduro por graves violaciones a los derechos humanos y corrupción entre otras cosas, ha sido, en mi opinión, un momento decisivo en la historia política de Venezuela. No lo es por el lenguaje declarando a Venezuela una amenaza contra los EEUU, ya que ello es una formalidad legal requerida para tales decisiones del ejecutivo estadounidense, sino por las repercusiones que dicha orden ha tenido. A tan sólo unos días de la orden del Presidente Obama, el Departamento del Tesoro de los EEUU a través de su oficina de prevención de delitos financieros (FINCEN), hizo pública otra orden, esta vez contra Banca Privada de Andorra (BPA). La orden de FINCEN identifica a un ruso, a un chino, y menciona, sin proveer nombres, a operadores financieros que habrían participado en apropiación indebida y blanqueo de 4.200 millones de dólares de PDVSA. El anuncio de FINCEN ha causado, a su vez, un terremoto en el sector financiero andorrano y español, ya que el BPA es dueño del Banco de Madrid, otro banco que opera en España. Investigaciones de la Comisión de Prevención de Blanqueo de Capitales e Infracciones Monetarias de España (SEPBLAC), hechas públicas por el diario El Mundo, identifican con nombre y apellido a seis operadores venezolanos mencionados por FINCEN. Los mencionados por El Mundo son: Alcides Rondón, Javier Alvarado, Nervis Villalobos, Carlos Aguilera, Omar Farías, y Rafael Jiménez. Reportajes subsiguientes afirman que estos individuos, en conjunto, recibieron sobornos por unos 140 millones de dólares para la obtención de contratos con instituciones del estado venezolano. Mientras ese escándalo se ventila en la prensa española, la venezolana no hace mención al respecto. Ello se debe a que el chavismo controla, directa o indirectamente, casi la totalidad de los grandes medios en Venezuela. Lo que está por ventilarse sobre las adquisiciones de dichos medios es de singular gravedad. Ahora, suceda eso o no, algunos de los operadores que llevaron a cabo dichas adquisiciones, junto con el régimen chavista, también son objeto de atención, investigación y seguimiento por parte de autoridades federales estadounidenses. La Orden Ejecutiva identifica a siete funcionarios chavistas, pero no son los únicos. Tras bastidores agentes federales han estado actualizando bases de datos con información sobre las actividades de Victor Vargas, Victor Gill, Danilo Díaz Granados, David Osío, Wilmer Ruperti, Luis Oberto, Roberto Rincón, entre otros dizque empresarios, banqueros, y operadores financie[...]

Derwick Associates paid bribes to get contracts in Venezuela


[UPDATED*] On Monday this week, one of Spain's newspapers of record (El Mundo), published the details of six Venezuelans being investigated, by Spain's Anti Money Laundering squad (SEPBLAC), for having taken part in money laundering. The news came after the U.S. Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FINCEN) singled out a bank in Andorra (BPA), a tax haven tucked in the Pyrenees between France and Spain, for having laundered money for Russian, Chinese and Venezuelan criminals. FINCEN's announcement came in the back of an Executive Order from President Barack Obama, targeting seven high ranking chavistas, for being "involved in or responsible for the erosion of human rights guarantees, persecution of political opponents, curtailment of press freedoms, use of violence and human rights violations and abuses in response to antigovernment protests, and arbitrary arrest and detention of antigovernment protestors, as well as the significant public corruption by senior government officials in Venezuela."p { margin-bottom: 0.1in; line-height: 120%; } *Fresh reports from another paper of record indicate that Spanish companies paid $148 million to obtain contracts in Venezuela (in English here).Two of the six individuals identified, Nervis Villalobos and Javier Alvarado, have been named in a lawsuit brought against Derwick for having received millions of dollars worth of bribes. Furthermore, Villalobos is no stranger to corruption accusations in Venezuela. The man has got pedigree.Villalobos was Venezuela's Viceminister of Energy and CEO of CADAFE, a power company fully owned by the Venezuelan State. In 2007, Chavez ordered all power companies, whether public or private, to merge into a nationwide conglomerate named CORPOELEC. Having being sacked from his CADAFE position by Hugo Chavez, Villalobos was brought back as an aide of sorts by Rafael Ramirez, longtime Energy Minister and CEO of PDVSA. Villalobos has been a regular passenger in flights aboard Derwick airlines.Alvarado, on his part, was CEO of Electricidad de Caracas, and shared with Ramirez important board positions at newly formed CORPOELEC. Alvarado's son, also called Javier, is a school friend of Pedro Trebbau, one of Derwick's top executives. In fact, when Alvarado Jr was importing an old Porsche he bought from a convicted oil trader, he gave Derwick's office address in Caracas as contact. FINCEN's report mentioned PDVSA as source of syphoned billions. Derwick Associates got all its 12 contracts either directly from CORPOELEC (through Alvarado and Villalobos), or from its partner PDVSA / Bariven (through Villalobos and Ramirez). El Mundo then revealed that Duro Felguera, a Spanish procurement company, had paid Villalobos $50 million for “oral consulting”, in relation to a €1,500 million contract in Venezuela (Termocentro). The exposé caused Duro Felguera a 10% drop in share value.In a separate deal, ProEnergy paid bribes to Majed Khalil Majzoub ($8 million) and Omar Petit ($1.3 million) to obtain another contract in Venezuela (Termozulia). And what a thug is that Majzoub...Petit used to work for ProEnergy, as Director of Latin America Business Development. His father, of same name, worked for PDVSA until retirement. Venezuelan sources claim that Petit Sr was an associate of sorts of Jesus Rangel, former CEO of C.A. Energía Eléctrica de Venezuela (Enelven), yet another one of the companies absorbed by CORPOELEC. Crucially, Rangel was ratified in his position at Enelven by Villalobos, after a political cleansing of anti Chavez workers in 2004. ProEnergy and Derwick have submitte[...]

The world is shrinking for Derwick Associates


One of Spain's newspapers of record, El Mundo, published in its front page today about corrupt officials from Venezuela using the subsidiary of a little bank in Andorra to launder billions of dollars. The news may come as a surprise to some. Readers of this and other blogs of mine will, I hope, share a feeling of vindication with me today, for as extraordinary as El Mundo's decision to name names is, we have known this for a while. In fact, I alerted Spain's money laundering authorities (SEPBLAC) about it in April 2012.Six names have been mentioned in relation to this money laundering scandal: Alcides Rondon, Carlos Aguilera, Omar Farias, Rafael Jimenez, Javier Alvarado and Nervis Villalobos. Some background is provided, though much information still needs to make it to print.Derwick Associates has been described by El Mundo as an American company that has benefited from public contracts given by Alvarado and Villalobos, now under investigation. Derwick is not an American co, we know that, but Alvarado and Villalobos are key to this multibillion dollar swindle.Nervis Villalobos was Viceminister of Energy and CEO of CADAFE just prior to Hugo Chavez decision to merge all power companies in Venezuela in 2007, while Alvarado and PDVSA's CEO Rafael Ramirez shared important board positions at the newly created CORPOELEC. More relevant still, all 12 contracts awarded to Derwick Associates were given by CORPOELEC and / or its subsidiaries / partners (CVG and PDVSA / BARIVEN). Missouri-based ProEnergy Services -under investigation by U.S. Federal Agencies- was then subcontracted to carry out all the work.Luis Jose Diaz Zuloaga, stepfather of one of Derwick's principals (Francisco Convit), was CEO of Electricidad de Valencia (one of the private cos forcefully absorbed by CORPOELEC). Javier Alvarado, in turn, is the father of a close school chum of Pedro Trebbau (Alvarado Jr on the left, with light blue, Trebbau in the center, dark blue and glasses).Through Diaz Zuloaga, Villalobos, Alvarado and Ramirez, the Derwick bolichicos managed to get over 1.3 billion USD worth of contracts, according to ProEnergy Services sources familiar with the deals. In addition, Derwick overcharged the Venezuelan State 35%, on average, on each contract, according to leaked documents and ProEnergy Services sources familiar with the contracts.Spain has been one of Derwick's favourite destinations. Millions of Euros have been spent in lavish weddings, and real estate acquisitions. The Bank of Spain, now at the centre of Andorra's money laundering scandal, ignored AML regulations in purchases involving Derwick. This may be due to the fact that the CEO of the subsidiary of Banca Privada D'Andorra (BPA) operating in Madrid (Banco de Madrid), Mr Jose Perez Fernandez, is a former Director of Compliance of Bank of Spain. The Derwick thugs have become so emboldened that relatives have threatened Spanish journalists,  forcing them to sign gag orders prohibiting any disclosure about their "businesses". Some of the money that Derwick used for property purchases didn't come from BPA / Banco Madrid though, but from Portugal's BANIF, yet another provider of money laundering services for PDVSA's middlemen such as Villalobos.Spanish authorities have been caught napping at the wheel with regards to arrival of Venezuelan "entrepreneurs" and their "wealth". The case of Juan Carlos Escotet provides the perfect case study. But others come to mind: Miguel Angel Capriles Lopez, or Victor Vargas's acquisition through proxies of Banco Europeo de Finanzas. The reali[...]

On U.S. sanctions to chavistas: A note of gratitude to Obama, and a tip


Dear President Obama,Thank you.Thank you for having the courage to sanction a bunch of thugs, when all other democratic nations turn their backs on us.Thank you for showing that Liberals do not tolerate human rights violators, regardless of where they stand in the political spectrum.Thank you for shining a light of hope upon our battered nation.Not long ago, I was in a conference about the offshore financial services industry. I remember, in particular, a conversation with the organizer, who claimed that the only country in the world that does something with regards to money launderers is the U.S.We have seen how U.S. authorities have slapped big banks with hefty fines, due to their involvement in financing terrorism, large scale money laundering and other similar actions.Your Executive Order imposing sanctions on seven chavistas suggests that those who associate and partake in the "illicit financial flows from public corruption in Venezuela" will also be targeted. As one of Venezuela's foremost researchers on corruption, let me stress upon the importance of targeting such people.What keeps Nicolas Maduro's regime in power is not the might of its armed forces; is not the brutality meted out on innocents, or torture and assassination of students; is not its political cunning, nor its association with the communist Cuban handlers. But rather corruption. The freedom to use Venezuela's cash with absolute discretion, and without any form of accountability, that's what keeps chavismo in power.If you were to disrupt that, by sanctioning the enablers, the facilitators of corruption, chavismo would tremble. For the U.S. financial system, which your EO aims to protect, continues to act as a gigantic laundromat, for nearly all involved in corruption in Venezuela. U.S. based banks, lawyers, lobbyists and businesses are employed as a matter of standard practice by the Boliburgeoisie. It'll be difficult, even for you, to be able to impose meaningful sanctions on somebody like Diosdado Cabello. But you can very well hit his proxies, the financial operators that use the U.S. financial system to launder the proceeds of corruption. You could start with Roberto Rincón, based in Texas. He knows a thing or two about other OFAC-designated thugs, like Hugo Carvajal, a distinguished member of Diosdado's "Cartel de los Soles."You could summon Luis Alfonso Oberto Anselmi. Now that one is a double -perhaps a triple, quadruple...?- whammy:he is married to Victor Gill's daughter; used to be partner of Raul Gorrín;does deals with Francisco D'Agostino (also New York-based and currently under investigation by Manhattan's DA Office and other Federal Agencies), who's in turn married to Victor Vargas' daughter; is partner in some other deals with Coco Capriles (one of Nelson Merentes' favourite proxies / operators); is associated with Derwick Associates folks, reportedly as Venezuela's largest black market forex operators; has a direct line to the very top of PDVSA (Rafael Ramirez, Baldo Sanso, and Asdrubal Chavez), reportedly allocator of hundreds of millions of dollars to be used in arbitrage;did, together with his father, some deals with Wilmer Ruperti;is into banking, insurance, food processing, and services in Venezuela;reportedly does business with Danilo Diaz Granados and Leonardo Gonzalez Dellán.The above, there are many more living in the U.S.A., are the kind of informants that can help you sanction with surgical precision Venezuela's top human rights violators.[...]

How to get a bank for free, Juan Carlos Escotet style


While investors and businesses were running for cover, multinationals were unable to repatriate profits, inflation and devaluation killed the Bolivar "Fuerte" (BsF) value, and the Venezuelan economy went to the dogs chavistas, a Boliburgeois banker, Juan Carlos Escotet, managed quite an extraordinary deal. No point denying it, so kudos are in order.Say you have a bank (BANESCO) in a country with three different foreign exchange rates (Venezuela):the first ($1 = 6.3 BsF) available only to businesses dealing with "critical" imports (i.e. food, medicine, etc.); the second ($1 = 12 BsF) available to businesses in not so "critical" sectors; and the third fluctuating, the highest one, at $1 = 177 BsF, for everyone else. Regardless of which one you are willing to get your USD from, you still need a chavista if you want to exchange, say the entire asset portfolio of a bank.Clever operator Mr EscotetIf you happen to be Mr Escotet (pictured), you are not going to print in press releases your bank's book value at the highest rate of exchange, but at the lowest, as impossible as it may be to actually justify said value, according to Escotet's own words  (see point 4). So in Mr Escotet's world, and that of the media which reprints without question his every utterance, BANESCO portfolio of assets -whatever the amount in BsF- gets magically converted into USD at the preferential -essential sector only- rate of $1 = 6.3 BsF, thus falsifying true net worth.European bureaucrats and media outlets aren't concerned by such details of course, so Mr Escotet found out about a distressed bank for sale (Abanca) that had gotten more than €16 billion worth of aid from European and Spanish funds, and decided to put a €1 billion bid for it. Placing a bid is not the same as having to fork out the full amount, right? Having won the bid to acquire 88.33% of Abanca, Mr Escotet negotiated payment with Spanish authorites: 40% upfront and five years to clear remaining balance. With that in his pocket, Mr Escotet set out to raise the required €400 million to close the deal, which he did, eventually.Abanca, formerly know as NCG Banco, had assets worth €71 billion in 2011 according to the European Commission. BANESCO, the Venezuelan bank of which Mr Escotet controls an estimated 58%, is worth less than $2 billion, but that was never going to stop Mr Escotet, was it?So the deal, quite brilliant I must admit, went thus:put a bid on a distressed bank from a country whose authorities / media don't get the half of it;inflate true net worth by capitalising on ignorance of three-tier exchange rate;promise that no jobs will be lost should the deal be approved;upon deal approval, negotiate favourable payment terms and raise first installment;upon gaining control of distressed bank, set up a fire sale to recoup initial payment and then some.It must be said, Mr Escotet managed quite the deal. Without putting a coin, he bought on some else's dime a bank several times larger than his BANESCO. He got a foothold in Europe, increased his net worth many times over, in real terms, and managed to dupe Spanish, European authorities, stakeholders and media long enough to get what he wanted.Mr Escotet, whose net worth was recently put in some obscure Chinese report at $2.3 billion, has definitely entered the big leagues. His 58% of BANESCO doesn't quite get to $1 billion, but BANESCO's 88.33% share of Abanca's €71 billion does. Chapeau Mr Escotet.[...]