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Corruption of Vitol, Glencore, Trafigura at PDVSA dwarfs all others

Reuters posted an "exclusive" yesterday about corruption in Brazil that's been in the public domain for a while. Just like Global Witness before, Reuters just translates criminal probes published in Portuguese by Brazilian prosecutors, and then adds the sensationalist breaking news bit. The reality is, of course, that THE business model of Vitol, Trafigura, Glencore et al is to bribe / outbribe the competition, and keep middlemen, like Bo Hans and Carlos Henrique Nogueira Herz, very sweet indeed.

Ian Taylor did it in Brazil, and he also did it in Venezuela. Vitol's Tony Maarraoui did a phenomenal amount of deals with PDVSA, thanks to a set up organised by Helsinge's Francisco Morillo that allowed real-time access to PDVSA's calls and bids. So did Jose Larroca, Patricio Norris, Sergio de la Vega, and Maximiliano Poveda. Only the other day, reading PACER docs about another scandal, I found that Roberto Finocchi had asked his boss at Sargeant Marine to expedite a $929,000 bribe to Claudio Vaccarezza. Let's not forget Vitol's links to Sargeant Marine here. Let's not forget that just Glencore managed to get over $40 billion worth of crooked deals with PDVSA.

So allow me to minimise the relevance of Reuters' "exclusive" corruption reports.

With regards to Claude Dauphin, this site can add to the adventures of that thug and his understudies. Unknown to most, Dauphin and Helsinge's Morillo were business buddies for a little while, until a fallout 'pushed' Morillo to Glencore's and Vitol's orbit, where Sergio de la Vega and Tony Maarraoui were only too happy to entertain. Morillo's model, that of cloning PDVSA servers and sell real-time access was a hit: Glencore, Vitol, Trafigura and co tried to replicate it with Petrobras, hence Bo Hans, Nogueira Herz, Jorge and Bruno Luz, etc.

Dauphin was also good mates with none other than Alejandro Betancourt, of Derwick Associates fame. When Betancourt ventured into Colombia's oil sector -through purchase of ~20% of Pacific Rubiales- he kept Dauphin's counsel. Coming from the Mark Rich "school of business", I am sure Dauphin found Betancourt's "business acumen" and "wealth" impeccable, a younger version of self sort of thing. This is a breed of thugs that can dump toxic waste, kill people and destroy entire nations with a smile on their face.

It is, therefore, not surprising to find corruption as the pillar of Swiss energy trading companies, for that IS the business model. None of the trading houses operating in opaque, utterly corrupt, and unregulated resource-rich developing countries have grown to size by conducting kosher business. Ditto Swiss banks: laundering the proceeds of corruption from the developing world is a core revenue stream. Same can be said of the Ian Taylors of this world: there's enough of those -just in London- to satisfy the needs of LatAm's Francisco Morillos.


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