2013 has been a good year. INFODIO was launched at the end of July, and has managed to get 779,426 page views thus far, positioning itself as the prime source in exposing corruption in Venezuela. While it would be foolish to claim that the site covers it all, it is not a stretch saying that it has contributed significantly to shed light on some issues that would have gone unnoticed otherwise.
Alek Boyd's blog
[UPDATE 30.12.2013 and 03.01.2014] RaFa the hacker is getting creative again. He is using Crowdflower to scrub the reputation of Venezuelan criminals (birds of a feather...). Let me explain how this works.
In another hilarious chapter in the Derwick Associates saga (a company of twenty-somethings with no experience in the energy sector that received 12 power plant contracts for billions of dollars thanks to one of their school chums, who just-so-happens to be the son of the government minister assigning the contracts), the holding company they have in Spain has just changed its name. Now, the "powerful" American-sounding company that bought a €22.7 million hunting estate in Toledo and luxury apartments in Madrid, is to be called COMPAÑIA DE INVERSIONES AGRICOLAS TRIESTE SL.
An extraordinary editorial by The Times, difficult to put it more clearly.
[DO READ THIS UPDATE] I was meant to have a meeting with Alex Saab on Monday, 25th November. Expectedly, he didn't show up, sending instead a Venezuelan lawyer called Amir Nassar. Nassar came to London to "open a communication channel" with me. He wanted to meet face to face and "get the conversation" going.
I am not an economist, I do not claim to be one, nor do I claim empirical expertise on the topic. I would like to draw INFODIO's readers attention to the following claim in Mark Weisbrot's latest propaganda piece at The Guardian's Comment is Free.
Dear Derwick bolichicos, I know you must be desperately wanting to see the end of this Annus Horribilis. Mind you, in 2013 you have gone from cocky proxies of Hugo Chavez, persecuting and prosecuting his opponents, to pariahs. In the space of less than a year, you went from believing that you would get millions and destroy the reputation of widely respected Venezuelan businessmen, who made their names, wealth and businesses through actual work, to become perhaps the only billionaires in town worthy of near absolute contempt.
Following the tip of a collaborator, I was able to create the map above. Further information can be seen by either placing the cursor above links between entities, or clicking those links. Try and be precise.
In a previous post I revealed how Venezuela had basically surrendered to Cuba responsibilities related to citizenry identification issues. In doing so, the Chavez regime effectively gave access to sensible personal identification data of all Venezuelan citizens to Cuba (through ALBET) and, consequently, to whomever ALBET decides to subcontract. However, Germany's Bundesdruckerei is not the only multinational that got into the dodgy deal. For there's also Netherlands-headquartered GEMALTO, which got a $40 million contract through a Mexican subsidiary (Gemalto Mexico S.A. de C.V.) on 20 August 2008, for the provision of six (6) million polycarbonate ID cards with chips.
Just how internationally wanted terrorists are getting Venezuelan IDs? The question is relevant, so please bear with me.
Thanks everyone for the many emails, with more information about Venezuela's Boligarchs and their 2.0 version. Perhaps it was a little premature, so I will rewrite this thing, and make a proper map, with all the companies, connected to all the individuals, in all the jurisdictions. It may take me a while, but I reckon it will come out good, maybe in book form, for future reference.
Good old Setty tweeted the other day about Doing Business in Venezuela. According to its mission, Doing Business is a "project [that] provides objective measures of business regulations and their enforcement across 189 economies and selected cities at the subnational and regional level." Doing Business ranks Venezuela in 181 place, out of 189 economies measured. That is, according to Doing Business there's only 8 other economies in the world where, overall, doing business is worse in every measurable aspect than in Venezuela.
Last Friday, the new board of Cadena Capriles, a media conglomerate that owns among other things Venezuela's largest newspaper, announced that a company called Latam Media Holding had recently acquired Cadena Capriles. The announcement came on the back of a previous one, made roughly five months ago by former CEO and owner Miguel Angel Capriles Lopez (a.k.a. "Michu"), claiming that the group of companies had been sold.
Countless words have been printed in the last few days about Angela Merkel's reaction to the news that the US government bugged her phone, and President Obama having even been briefed about in 2010 and doing nothing to "halt the operation" by the NSA. In this post Wikileaks and Snowden era we live in, that ever so defining and most useful of politicians' treats -hypocrisy- no longer cuts mustard. For Merkel's "outrage" is just that: utter hypocrisy. To illustrate the point, I shall provide an example that may have escaped Frau Merkel's "public indignation" radar.
I get my F1 news mainly from Joe Saward. His report of the last grand prix from Suzuka almost made me choke, because of this claim regarding Williams F1 Team and PDVSA...
Public companies trade on their earnings, management team, and in great part on their name. How the market perceives a company has the most impact on stock price. It follows that multinational corporations apportion considerate amount of resources to PR and brand-reputation protection. Wall Street history is littered with examples of what happens to a stock’s price when a company becomes embroiled in scandals, corporate malfeasance, or fraud.
The BBC reported it as "Police at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport have seized 1.3 tonnes of pure cocaine on board an Air France flight from Venezuela, French officials say." For Venezuela observers this is nothing new. What's surprising about it, is how Venezuela's "CSIRT" is trying to block information about those believed to be responsible. See below.
Been trying to get a clearer picture of the involvement of JP Morgan in laundering millions of dollars siphoned out of Venezuela by Derwick Associates. A source recently pointed me in the right direction, and so I found in New York property records' database documents that demonstrate, beyond reasonable doubt, that JP Morgan bankers purchased property -as proxies- on behalf of Derwick Associates, while it also granted a $5.8 million mortgage on said property.
Luis Oberto (aka Luis Alfonso Oberto Anselmi) one of the most discreet members of the Venezuelan Boliburgeoisie. A mention here, another there, it seems that Oberto has been able to fly under the radar for quite some time now, although INFODIO readers -an extraordinary source of information on all these white-collar thugs- have been sharing intel on Oberto and his operations. Please bear with me as this is about to get more complicated than a Venezuelan soap opera.
I got up this morning to the news that "I've got AIDS." It wasn't my doctor who gave me the bad news, no. It was the Derwick boys (Francisco D'Agostino, Francisco Convit, Pedro Trebbau, and Alejandro Betancourt), who in their boundless wisdom, continue to position the only tactic they have at their disposal, money, in order to deploy the only strategy they know to use when bribery fails: intimidation.
The correct thing to do, in relation to billions of dollars reportedly schemed by a number of companies contracted to solve the power crisis in Venezuela, is to allow them to have their say. As such, I sent a few communications yesterday to IMPSA, an Argentine conglomerate whose activities have been singled out by Venezuelan experts as exhibit A of enormous overbilling in the execution of public infrastructure works. Case in point Tocoma, fourth dam in a series in the lower Caroní river, being built by a consortium (Odebrecht, Impregilo & Vinccler) and in which IMPSA was the chosen contractor to build and install 10 Kaplan turbines.
Derwick Associates, the energy company involved in a mega corruption scandal, overcharged the Venezuelan State as much as $2.933 billion according to estimates from energy expert Jose Aguilar. In an interview with INFODIO, Aguilar argued that Derwick Associates is the "tip of the iceberg" in a considerably larger swindle that could have cost Venezuela in excess of $23 billion. Aguilar named names of international corporations taking part in the scheme: Argentina's IMPSA, Spain's IBERDROLA and Duro Felguera, France's Alstom, China's CMEC and Sinohydro, Germany's Ferroostaal, Thailand's TSK, as well as American Waller Marine.
Leopoldo J. Martinez is a Washington D.C.-based Venezuelan tax expert and lawyer, closely aligned with the opposition movement to the late Hugo Chavez. Martinez is meant to be Washington's representative of MUD -umbrella group of parties and politicians- led by Henrique Capriles. His Twitter and Facebook account reveal where he stands politically. There's even photos of him sitting proudly next to Capriles.
Forget about Tiny Rowland and his African adventures as imperialist entrepreneur and dealmaker. The unacceptable face of capitalism has morphed into its XXI century iteration: bankers. This meme of bankers as the world’s worst has been appropriated and “occupied” by the Left. And the argument has been set up as one between “capitalism” and the power of the state. It may seem odd for someone like me to bash capitalism and entrepreneurship, but seeing what some “capitalist” bankers and banks are doing these days, I can't help but empathise with the "progressive" trend to paint bankers as the parasites on the world’s productive class.
Nelson Bocaranda, legendary Venezuelan journalist who scooped the global media with his precise and uncanny reports about Hugo Chavez's cancer (at a time when Venezuela denied the seriousness of Chavez's ongoing illness), reports today that a Frenchman by the name of Charles Henry de Beaumont (a.k.a. Charles Henry du Boscq de Beaumont) with Compagnie Bancaire Helvétique (CBH) in Switzerland, has been opening bank accounts for chavista officials.
Now that I have had time to go over the lawsuit filed by Otto Reich against Derwick Associates' "ChavezKids" (aka Bolichicos), the first thing that caught my eye was to learn about a chap called Eduardo Travieso, formerly with JP Morgan. I have evidence that Mr Travieso had more than just a professional relationship with Derwick Associates' executives.
Setty is reporting over in Twitter that Otto Reich, former U.S. Secretary of State for Latin America and Ambassador to Venezuela, is suing Derwick Associates for racketeering in the US. The targets are the unlikely trio of Alejandro Betancourt Lopez and Pedro Trebbau, the two principals behind Derwick Associates that are so familiar to visitors of this blog. The third person is Francisco D’Agostino, who is the son-in-law of Boligarch megabanker Victor Vargas from Maracaibo.
I first became aware of Claudio Osorio's existence in 2005. He was a high-flying Miami businessman from Venezuela who was throwing money all over the place: Gloria Estefan, Bill Clinton, Jeb Bush, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, and even the Obamas came knocking at his door looking for cash. Cash for political campaigns, cash for foundations, cash for fun. And Osorio, a businessman with a checkered past involving swindling investors in Switzerland, was happy to oblige.
Wikipedia (handle with care) defines it thus: "SUCRE (Spanish: Sistema Único de Compensación Regional, English: Unified System for Regional Compensation) is a proposed regional currency to be used in commercial exchanges between members of the regional trade bloc Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA), which was created as an alternative to the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA). The SUCRE is intended to replace the US dollar as a medium of exchange in order to decrease US control of Latin American economies and to increase stability of regional markets." A noble endeavor, some will say...