This week saw publication of in-depth reports (here, here and here) about Dan Gertler, a Treasury-santioned Israeli thug that became the go-to guy for all mining deals in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) under the rule of Joseph Kabila. It is fascinating reading, for those of us who dig transnational corruption of the highest order. Gertler's road to billionairedom is a journey well known to us studies of Venezuela's rampant corruption leagues. In fact, this site would like to raise Francisco Morillo: Glencore's Dan Gertler in Venezuela.
First, some economic figures about DRC are in order, to be able to make fair comparisons:
- GDP stands at $47.3 billion (source).
- "In 2017, the sector generated USD 1,68 billion, accounting for 17,40% of GDP, 55,16% of total government revenues, 99,3% of total exports and a quarter of total employment." (source)
- "Mineral exports constitute 86% of total exports and the DRC is ranked as the second most important country in relation to mineral export contribution. Mineral production value at the mine stage was 6.8 billion USD in 2016 and the mineral production value as per cent of GDP was 12%: on this indicator, the DRC is ranked as number two. Exploration expenditure was 143 MUSD in 2016 and expressed as a share of production value is 2%, and DRC is in 37th place globally. Mineral rents constituted 13% out of total GDP and DRC is ranked at number six in 2016." (source)
Let's compare that with Venezuela's, with the caveat that figures may be skewed due to chavismo's refusal to provide correct indicators:
- Last reported (2014) GDP was $482 billion (source).
- "Venezuela’s oil revenues account for about 99 per cent of export earnings... Value of exports (million $) 34,996... Value of petroleum exports (milllion $) 34,674" (2018 figures, source).
Historically, Venezuela's oil sector has been larger than DRC's entire economic output. It is in this context that activities of Francisco Morillo provide a remarkable contrast against those of Gertler. It could be argued that Gertler's relations with Kabila were better than what Morillo ever had with either Hugo Chavez or with Nicolas Maduro, however both men exploited access to high officials to advance their "business" agendas. In Morillo's case, it was access to PDVSA, or more specifically, to PDVSA's real time commerce and supply data.
In a brazen feat of perhaps unseen corrupt tactics, Morillo managed to set up, and keep for years, remote real time access to PDVSA's commercial tenders. This allowed him, and his associates, to win bid after bid, for well over a decade. As one consulted industry expert told this site, "no one is that good." Morillo's "success" could not have happened without approval of the highest office in PDVSA, the one held for most of those years by Rafael Ramirez.
While Gertler sold mining rights in the DRC to Glencore, and collected associated fees for years, Morillo either traded himself on PDVSA's inside information with Glencore, or sold access to Glencore to PDVSA's real time commerce and supply data.
To contextualize, Glencore did the following according to records in a lawsuit that PDVSA brought in Geneva:
"De 2004 à 2017, les sociétés de négoce impliquées auraient remporté pour plus de 40 milliards de dollars de contrats de la part PDVSA grâce aux services de Helsinge, d’après la plainte. Selon un tableau figurant dans le dossier pénal, le zougois Glencore a acheté du pétrole brut à PDVSA pour plus de 5 milliards de dollars, durant la période concernée, et lui a vendu pour plus de 11 milliards de produits raffinés."
To clarify, Helsinge = Francisco Morillo's company. That is, Glencore's bought over $5 billion worth of crude and sold over $11 billion worth of refined products to PDVSA in the 2004 - 2017 period, i.e. $16 billion worth of business, and that's just Glencore. Trafigura bought $7.7 billion and sold $6.5 billion in same period. Then, there were Vitol and Lukoil. The entire blue-blooded fellowship of utterly corrupt Swiss traders did over $40 billion worth of business thanks to Morillo. That is close to DRC's GDP!
Swiss oil traders got billions in deals with Venezuela's @PDVSA through 2 businessmen charged with corruption - new details emerge on the Helsinge investigation in Geneva, including the seizure of this nice house https://t.co/BPNBa867zi @alekboyd @vitolgroup @Trafigura @Glencore pic.twitter.com/XPfSBeiJH2
— Sylvain Besson (@SylvainBesson) March 24, 2019
Haaretz excellent report on Gertler, which can not be read in the UK, exposes the kind of network in his payroll:
"The largest amount sent from the company’s account went to Israeli lawyer Avigdor (Dori) Klagsbald. The documents show that during 2018, €2.4 million was sent to Klagsbald’s account in several installments. Klagsbald may well be Israel’s best-connected lawyer. It’s hard to think of anyone else whose circle of friends includes past and present Supreme Court justices such as Anat Baron, Uzi Vogelman, his former law firm partner Yoram Danziger and current Supreme Court President Esther Hayut, alongside Mossad head Yossi Cohen, with whom Klagsbald maintains a close friendship, as recently revealed in a civil dispute."
Gertler and Morillo are also similar with respect to authorities in their own countries turning a blind eye on their deals. Neither seems to have had any legal issue that money couldn't solve in Israeli and Venezuela jurisdictions. Like Gertler, Morillo controls both government and opposition figures, which ensures a totally subservient judiciary.
Considering size of business, parties involved, and the information that is now known, how come Gertler is a U.S Treasury target and Morillo is completely unencumbered by law enforcement? How come Glencore's corruption in DRC with Gertler gets plastered all over the place, and Glencore's deals with Morillo in Venezuela aren't talked about? Perhaps this is because of the media's widespread bias against Jews and soft spot for poor African nations. But how come Gertler's has to launder his money by sending thugs in his payroll to deposit millions in cash in bloody Afriland First Bank in Kinshasa, and no bank -least of all Swiss- seems to have gotten any warnings about Morillo?
On the issue of Gertler, Global Witness reported in 2018:
"Of particular concern was a $35m payment which was unaccounted for. After calling into question ENRC executives’ explanations for the payment, Dechert concludes that “there were reasonable grounds for concern that the true purpose of the US$35 million…payment, which originated from ENRC in London, was to enable Mr Gertler to make corrupt payments to senior government officials in the DRC… and that ENRC was potentially criminally liable in connection with the same.” The document indicates that the Swiss bank Compagnie Bancaire Helvetique (CBH) was used to make “corrupt payments” from this $35m."
Where else have we heard about Compagnie Bancaire Helvetique being involved in facilitating bribe payments? In fact, what did an exactly similar transaction ($35 million transfer) cause to CBH?
Morillo has been defending himself in two little-reported lawsuits brought by PDVSA: one civil in Florida spearheaded by David Boies, and one criminal in Geneva led by Guerric Canonica (also Wilmer Ruperti's lawyer). Prosecution in Geneva managed to get a server that allegedly contains piles of incriminating information about Morillo's "trades" with Glencore et al. According to our sources, Geneva's prosecutors shared it with U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ), which is yet to make announcements in that regard.
DoJ is separately running a criminal probe whereby EFG Bank and CBH -mainly- are at the core of a $4.5 billion money laundering scheme centered at PDVSA. Additionally, it is certain that "wealth managers" at Pictet that onboarded and serviced Morillo are involved in not only his illegal activities, but those of other equally corrupt Venezuelans. Ditto BNP Paribas, Credit Suisse and Julius Baer.
Under chavismo, the Africanisation of Venezuela is complete: the country's corruption ought to get same media attention. To this site, is very clear that Gertler's little gig with Kabila is child's play next to Morillo's. Mexico should no longer tolerate his presence. Ditto Panama. No legal harm will come his way in Venezuela, but the rest of the civilised world should be hostile territory to him as much as it is to Gertler.