A visit to PACER's info on PDVSA US Litigation Trust civil lawsuit -against energy traders in Florida courts- is like a dive into a bottomless cesspit of corruption. Those of us chronicling the grand theft that has bankrupted Venezuela ought to be grateful to Nelson Martinez and Reinaldo Muñoz Pedroza, for their sheer stupidity of using American courts, and for retaining (birds of a feather) David Boies, Bill Duker and associated thugs. Given the desperate economic situation Venezuela is in however, and the consequences of such scenario in the Americas, it must be asked: why is the Justice Department (DoJ) not jumping at the chance of ameliorating the raging chaos by prosecuting involved chavistas?
Ysmel Serrano, for instance, inaccurately identified by Boies as "Head of PDVSA's Commercial and Supply Department" and named in the lawsuit as one of the "bribed PDVSA employees". It needs to be stressed that Serrano is currently Vice President of PDVSA. Serrano was appointed PDVSA's VP by Nicolas Maduro on 28 November 2017. That is, Serrano is VP of the company that retained Boies; Serrano is number 2 of the corporation that Boies says lost billions due to fraudulent schemes. Not only that, Serrano sat in a board meeting at PDVSA and signed in agreement to allow Manuel Quevedo (current CEO and concurrent Minister of Petroleum) to enter into import / export trade deals with Trafigura, one of the main defendants in Boies' lawsuit.
Serrano's board approval came on 13 December 2017. Less than three months after (early March 2018), Boies filed a lawsuit in Florida claiming that Serrano was one of PDVSA's corrupt officials. How can this be explained? How could Boies be so stupid as to accuse his employer on the record?
While Boies was preparing his legal action in Florida, PDVSA instructed Swiss lawyers (Canonica) to file a criminal complaint against same fraudsters Boies was going to accuse in civil litigation. Swiss prosecutor Johan Droz took it on, raided some offices, made arrests, and demanded for a server -presumably containing loads of incriminating evidence- to be sent from Florida -Boies' jurisdiction- to Switzerland, as part of a deal with an arrested co-conspirator involved in the scheme. Again, why didn't Boies and Canonica coordinate their actions, so whatever information held in server could be used in Florida? Why launch a criminal complaint before filing a civil case in a different jurisdiction?
The Swiss are sitting on a huge pile of corruption evidence related to PDVSA. Switzerland's judicial and financial authorities are, in fact, very keen on making an example out of Venezuelan parties that have used Swiss banks for corrupt schemes. The best exhibit is the sanction on Gazprombank, due to deliberate anti money laundering oversight on Venezuelans. Aside from that, Swiss authorities have been sharing a great deal of information for different DoJ probes related to Roberto Rincon, Derwick Associates, Alejandro Andrade, the Oberto bros and others.
Why is DoJ, then, not jumping at the chance presented by Boies' farcical "Litigation Trust"? Serrano, to continue with the familiar, is but a proxy of OFAC-sanctioned kingpin Tareck el Aissami. Sources report a fierce battle for control of PDVSA. On the one hand the military faction, led by Quevedo, supported by the likes of Erling Rojas, ultimately under Diosdado Cabello's control. On the other, Tareck el Aissami's crowd, which includes Serrano, and whose moves count with Maduro's seal. All of them have been / are persons of interest. All of them are responsible for Venezuela's descent into a drug trafficking mecca, a pariah State where all sorts of criminality thrive.
We then have the American component: David Boies, Bill Duker, Vincent Stephen Andrews, Edward P. Swyer, and David L. Evans. These folks must have thought their involvement would bring in serious cash, but their greed far exceeds their capabilities / knowledge of Venezuela. It is rather difficult to see how Mr Boies and his merry band of dodgy operators are going to succeed, when they don't even have the backing of the new PDVSA regime. The principal defendants in the lawsuit, Francisco Morillo and Leonardo Baquero, haven't even been served, are fighting deposition, and the jurisdiction of the court over them is in question. Moreover, Morillo is arguing that he can't travel to the U.S. to be deposed because his life could be in danger. This, from a man living between Mexico and Venezuela -where BTW no probe into the affair has been launched- is beyond preposterous. This also shows how compromised Boies' position is, for the company he represents (PDVSA) isn't even chasing culprits in its own jurisdiction (Venezuela). Attorney Reinaldo Muñoz Pedroza was meant to travel to New York to be deposed on the Trust's standing, yet in Venezuela he's doing nothing.
The Department of Justice should activate established cooperation channels with the Swiss, and make sure that evidence of rampant corruption related to this case cements other ongoing probes. DoJ should exploit the opportunity presented by Boies' decision to get in bed with the likes of Wilmer Ruperti. It is a gift. The actionable intelligence that could be gotten, put to good use, can help remediate one of the hemisphere's worst humanitarian and political crises.