"If you want solutions, fast and efficient, give us a call."
Alejandro Betancourt, Derwick Associates' CEO.
Alejandro Betancourt (a.k.a. Leopoldo Alejandro Betancourt Lopez, Leopoldo Betancourt, Alejandro Betancourt Lopez) 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. Betancourt's "aristocratization" process (honouring geografical context I shall define it as "Slimification" or the process by which LatAm businessmen with dubious pasts / credentials and even more questionable wealth become "respectable") merits some scrutiny. Let's just skip the puff piece his PR people put up in Wikipedia, and head to his very own bio page, which is a superb place to appreciate the 'achievements and record' of a man of his 'stature'.
The page begins with certifiable fraudulent claims, and rapidly moves on to exaggerations concluding with embellishments and more fraud:
Con doble licenciatura en Económicas y Administración de Empresas por la Suffolk University de Massachusetts (Boston, USA), Alejandro Betancourt es ejemplo de un reducido grupo de emprendedores venezolanos...
A “licenciatura” is the spanish word for a “degree.” It appears that Derwick's Alejandro Betancourt is so insecure, and so desperate for respectability, that even his academic credentials are exaggerated to the point of fraud. We called The Registrar’s Office of Suffolk University at (617) 573-8430 where we confirmed that Betancourt did not, in fact, obtain a “doble licenciatura en Económicas y Administración de Empresas.” No, this 'remarkable businessman' graduated with one bachelor of science degree, in economics, on May 21, 2006. That is one major. Not two degrees or even two majors. Betancourt's alma mater is ranked as #60 in the U.S. regional universities of the North. In other words, it isn't even in the second tier, it is a third-tier institution with a reputation for being an easy “get” for international students who couldn't get into any other higher learning school, but wanted to be in Boston because for Venezuelan’s Boston means party-time.
But what to make of his claim of being "an example of Venezuelan entrepreneurs"? Betancourt entered into deals with the Venezuelan State as an Italian national, representing a Panamanian company. Is that the "example" he refers to?
Ocupó el cargo de Director de Comercio para Latinoamérica en la Delegación de Reino Unido de la norteamericana ICC-OEOC (http://www.iccoeoc.com/index1.asp), especializada en el sector energético y en el comercio de petróleo y sus derivados, con presencia en USA, Europa, Oriente Medio Sur-américa y África.
When contacted at the telephone number listed through their website, a man answered saying he has never heard of Alejandro Betancourt, and that nobody by that name has ever worked there. This man also informed us that this company, icc-oeoc no longer exists. A cursory look at the website makes it seem like a fly-by-night, used for someone in some shady oil deal. Perhaps this is the kind of experience Betancourt acquired before launching Derwick Associates. And the role just couldn't be more fake "business director for LatAm of the UK delegation of American ICC-OEOC". Whatever.
And the embellishment continues:
Betancourt ha formado parte de los equipos directivos de Guruceaga Group, empresa dedicada al comercio internacional de commodities de la que fue director; y BGB Energy, filial en Venezuela de la corporación internacional Kawasaki Heavy Industries (http://www.khi.co.jp/english/). Como primer ejecutivo de BGB Energy participó activamente en el proyecto de Interconexión Centro Occidente (ICO) de Venezuela, que tuvo lugar en 2006.
The name of this company matches that of a maternal relative of Betancourt. It's another gross exaggeration, if not fraud. He states that he was “director” of “Guruceaga Group.” There is no website or public information online about the “Guruceaga Group”, probably a stall selling jewelry in some flea market. Betancourt's “First executive of BGB Energy" time period is interesting because he was, in fact, in college, at Suffolk University, in 2006. How, then, could he have been the "First Executive" representing Kawasaki Heavy Industries? Furthermore, “BGB Energy” is what, exactly? A company registered in Panama on October 18, 2006, with Betancourt, Luis Enrique Giminez, and Enrique Giminez Chumaciero as officers.
And it goes on:
Tras el éxito de BGB Energy en el Proyecto ICO y con casi una década de experiencia en el sector, Alejandro Betancourt decide fundar, en 2007, Derwick Associates...
The “success” of BGB Energy? What "success" was that? The company is so successful that it is no longer registered as a company, it was suspended from Venezuela’s registry of contractors. It's “office” is a ground floor residential apartment in Prados del Este, a middle class neighborhood in Caracas.
The first rule of PR is that when you find yourself in a hole you have to stop digging. The "bolichicos" of Derwick Associates tend to exemplify precisely what not to do in every instance of PR crisis management. It would take a ten-year-old child with access to Google, and knowledge of basic arithmetic, to make Swiss cheese out of Betancourt's “curriculum", especially of this claim that he has “casi una década de experiencia”, that is a track record of "almost a decade." In 1997, the beginning of that “decade”, Betancourt was 17 years old (DOB: Feb. 2, 1980). Moreover, Venezuela's database of social security contributions shows that Betancourt first ever contributions were made, in fact, in 2007 (just nine weeks of salaries recorded, see picture).
If Alejandro Betancourt graduated in 2006, where was this decade of experience in the energy sector? Did he work for a decade without earning / reporting any income? Such BS can only be taken at face value by Betancourt's enablers, i.e. willing bankers, willing lawyers, and willing lobbyists, who so keenly pretend to believe his ongoing falsehoods, so they can justify billing this crook for defending his 'reputation' as a 'world-class businessman', rather than the world-class bottom feeder who bilked Venezuela out of billions.
But let the debunking continue:
Su apuesta por la innovación y por la mejora de los procesos de producción de energía eléctrica en Venezuela ha llevado a Derwick Associates a situarse, en poco tiempo, en una posición de privilegio para acometer proyectos de envergadura tanto dentro como fuera de las fronteras venezolanas. De hecho, desde 2010, Derwick ha edificado 11 plantas termoeléctricas de ciclo simple que han añadido 1.386 MW al sistema eléctrico de Venezuela y creado más de 12.000 puestos de trabajo y beneficiado a cerca de 700.000 familias, lo que le ha convertido en una de las empresas privadas más importantes del sector eléctrico venezolano.
The absurdly laughable claim about the creation of 12,000 jobs can only be outdone by failing to add that they swindled the Venezuelan government of nearly $3 billion due to overbilling. Derwick and Betancourt added no value to any of the projects they worked on, they simply got their chummies to give them contracts, then subcontracted and sat there collecting like a toll booth operator. Others did all the work and also got rich: Betancourt's partners Jeff and Cara Canon from ProEnergy Services.
But, curiously, Betancourt deliberately omitted certain aspects of his 'career' from his bio page. For some reason, there's no word about his deals with Corporación Venezolana de Guayana (CVG), and his involvement in what some have described as a $500 million swindle. Neither there's mention of Betancourt's 'professional relationship' with Gazprom and Gazprombank (as he claimed in spurious lawsuit against Banco Venezolano de Credito in Miami) as "external consultants for their operations in the Andean region." There's no evidence, anywhere, that Betancourt was ever retained, in any capacity, by either Gazprom or Gazprombank.
Lies notwithstanding, Betancourt seems to be determined to carry on with his Slimification process (also understood as the characteristic of certain Latino "businessmen" of exploiting childhood friends and nepotistic networks as their sole redeeming feature). A Spanish financial magazine, with an equally bogus track record, recently gave Betancourt an award for "contributions to the brand Spain". In addition, Betancourt has managed to either bribe or co-opt Venezuela's most reputed engineering university (Universidad Simón Bolívar) to launch some sort of training program (Boligarchs seem to have a weakness for 'college programs'). Betancourt is also meant to be about to launch a "technological turbine center", where Venezuela's malfunctioning power plants will be serviced by Derwick Associates, a company that subcontracts everything to others.
In due course, Betancourt and his partners will probably be "accepted" by Spain's nobility, gentry and ruling classes, that is if they manage to come out unscathed of pending legal case in the U.S. of A. There's precedent of many other crooks succeeding at it, and Betancourt has got enough money to buy his way to the top. His brand, Derwick Associates, seems to be losing its value rather quickly, though it is nonetheless fascinating to see, in real time, how LatAm thugs engage in Slimification.