The U.S. Justice Department unsealed some charges yesterday related to a money laundering and bribery scheme involving some of the usual suspects exposed in this website: "Five Former Venezuelan Government Officials Charged in Money Laundering Scheme Involving Foreign Bribery"
Evidence has emerged that Derwick Associates paid bribes to Nervis Villalobos through Banca Privada D'Andorra. A "Consulting and Advisory Services Agreement" between Derwick Associates Corp. and INGESPRE (Nervis Villalobos' vehicle) was entered by the parties on 14 January 2010. The contract's recitals imply that Derwick Associates is a foreign concern "which does have an office in Venezuela and wishes to do further business there".
The Wall Street Journal was the first to report, in August 2014, on prosecutors from the Southern District of New York probing Venezuela's rampant corruption.
UPDATED - Before getting to Fusion GPS associations to Venezuela, let me just say that that country is, by far, Latin America's most corrupt. Its president, Nicolas Maduro, has the unique distinction of being the "individual who has done the most in the world to advance organized criminal activity and corruption" according to the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP).
Further to Bloomberg's reporting that Swiss authorities are collaborating with U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara's corruption probe into PDVSA and Derwick Associates, I posted an open letter, enclosed below.
There are many things we still don't know about Derwick Associates, but there's one we do know: Alejandro Betancourt (left), Pedro Trebbau and Jeff Canon (right) swindled -at the very least- $70 million USD from the Venezuelan State.
"... money is the name of the game here..." said Peter Fritsch during a panel discussion at the Wilson Center on how to (cue in drum roll) disrupt money laundering.
"We are a transparent company and have nothing to hide" said Adam Kaufmann, former New York DA's chief investigator, to the Wall Street Journal in relation to probes that his former office and other Federal Agencies have launched against his client Derwick Associates. A transparent company does not need an army of lawyers and spin doctors to obscure every single operational aspect, but perhaps transparency has a different meaning in Derwick's world. In any case, Derwick has been caught lying repeatedly, and it seems that evidence of another lie has just emerged.
A tweet alerted me yesterday to the latest on the Otto Reich lawsuit against Derwick Associates in New York. District Judge Paul Oetken on 18 of August dismissed "Claims I and II (RICO) and VII (civil conspiracy)." And added in his conclusions: "Defendant D’Agostino’s motion for leave to file a sur-reply (Docket No. 57) is granted. The parties shall confer on the appropriate scope and schedule for jurisdictional discovery and submit a joint letter to the Court with a proposed schedule on or before September 12, 2014."
Finally, a major publication like the Wall Street Journal picked up on the gargantuan corruption racket that Derwick Associates has been involved in in Venezuela. In "Venezuelan Energy Company Investigated in U.S.
Derwick Associates Is Probed by U.S., New York Agencies for Possible Bribery, Banking Violations", the WSJ goes to town on some of the issues readers of this blog have been aware of for quite some time:
RaFa the hacker sent me a concerned email. He tells me he's a Buddhist now. Is he a Buddhist hacker? Or a hacker who happens to be a Buddhist? Well, let's hear from him:
Back in late 2012, when I wrote my first post about Derwick Associates and got interested in their activities, I remember having done a WHOIS search on their domain name derwickassociates.com. The site appeared to have have been registered by Derwick Associates de Venezuela, using 17121 Collins Avenue, Apt.
Last week I posted about latest filings in Otto Reich's RICO lawsuit against Derwick Associates. It presents quite an unexpected and interesting twist to the corruption saga: one of the defendants, Francisco D'Agostino, allegedly offered information on the other two defendants (Alejandro Betancourt and Pedro Trebbau) to Reich in "exchange for his dismissal" from the lawsuit. No honour among thieves, right?
Lawyers for Otto Reich in the RICO lawsuit against Derwick Associates (Alejandro Betancourt, Pedro Trebbau and Francisco D'Agostino) claim in latest filing (page 7 below) that D'Agostino (in turn son in law of Bolivarian banker Víctor Vargas of Banco Occidental de Descuento fame) "in exchange for his dismissal from this lawsuit, offered to provide information to Ambassador Reich that would be damning to Betancourt and Trebbau."
The good folks from Reporters Without Borders published in its We Fight Censorship website a post entitled "Corruption Off Limits on Venezuelan Internet", where censorship of this website in Venezuela is exposed.
I know, I know, today's a Sunday, mothers' day in the UK, but the stuff in Twitter from @jescotet is just too good to ignore. Check out the following tweets:
Descifrado.com reports that Thor Halvorssen (my former boss at The Human Rights Foundation) has sued Derwick Associates (Alejandro Betancourt, Pedro Trebbau, Francisco D'Agostino and 25 others) in the 11th Circuit of Miami-Dade, Florida. Allegedly, high figures from chavismo could be involved in corruption. Derwick Associates has another pending lawsuit, in New York, filed by former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Western Hemisphere Affairs, Otto Reich.
infodioLeaks continues to provide some truly amazing leaks about corruption in Venezuela. One of the first questions ever asked to Derwick Associates, when it became known that it had been gifted 12 contracts in non-bidding processes, was to produce copy of said contracts. After all, Derwick was believed to be a Venezuelan private company, run by Venezuelans, that had been contracted by Venezuelan State's institutions, and that had been paid with Venezuelan public funds.
Alejandro Betancourt is a chavista wunderkind. A 'pioneer and global entrepreneur' he seems to be preparing his move to Spain, considering the tough times in his native Venezuela. Given his worldwide 'stature' as a 'businessman, philanthropist, innovator, and financial wizard,' Mr. Betancourt’s PR team recently unveiled a new website: AlejandroBetancourt.Es (notice Spain’s TLD) to serve as his presentation card to the world.
Damaging corruption information keeps arriving at infodioLeaks. Check out the document below. Google "Rolls Royce Trent 60" and lots of different results will come up, though the one I like is this one: it's from Mark Alflatt, Rolls Royce's Director of Financial Communications, who in May 2009 wired a press release entitled "ROLLS-ROYCE WINS €70 MILLION TRENT CONTRACT TO POWER GERMAN POWER STATION". In it one can read:
The document below is a prelude to the sort of deals that the Venezuelan State, through its utterly corrupt officials (like BARIVEN's President Guillermo Arellano) made with the bolichicos of Derwick Associates: Leopoldo Alejandro Betancourt Lopez, Francisco Convit Guruceaga, Francisco D'Agostino, and Pedro Trebbau Lopez.
It doesn't look pretty for Derwick Associates. Not pretty at all. Readers may recall that former U.S. President's Special Envoy for the Western Hemisphere, Otto Reich, filed a RICO lawsuit against Leopoldo Alejandro Betancourt Lopez, Pedro Trebbau Lopez and Francisco D'Agostino (of Derwick Associates's fame) in New York in July last year. When reading the claim the first time I thought "this is a looong shot..."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.