When the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) started publishing about offshore links of the world's great and powerful, the $500+ million ponzi scheme set up by Francisco Illarramendi came up. One of the involved in the scam, 'banker' Moris Beracha, took issue with ICIJ, arguing that ICIJ "did not do an investigate journalism job and ignored information" provided. Beracha was actually right, the Illarramendi case had been in the news for a while already and the ICIJ did not publish/add anything new. Moreover, there is a huge conflict of interests in the case: Moris Beracha and David Osio (also involved in the scam) have been clients of FTI Consulting, which is involved with the receiver (?). But Beracha's stance did surprise me, and so I took to Twitter and asked him about it. Surprisingly, Beracha replied, below our exchange thus far.
Subject: Reff diego arria.
Date: 12 April 2013 17:07:24 BST
My name is moris beracha. My good friend diego Arria told me that he is a good friend of yours and he want to intruduce me to you. As you know he is very busy in venezuela with the coming elections next sunday.
I will like to introduce my self , as diego can confirm iam a business man and operates in the financial market since 25 years ago.
I had a broker dealer in ny since 1989 until 2003 named westfalia investment and a broker dealer in. Venezuela since 1990 until present named Bestinvest.
I can assure you that iam a very honorable person that always conduct my business with transparency and close to the rules and regulations of the markets that i participated.
I had been attacked by some media and journalist in venezuela who writes a bunch of false arguments most of them without identified themselves, with the only objective to ask for money(extorsion) which i never accept. And i always had the philosophy of never dismiss a lie because it is just a lie(mentira).
About the illaramendi case. As you see, my letter to respond cjci its exactly the trues and really dont understand the dark intentions to published something. Which is a lie and dont say the info i provided them.
I will be more. Than glad to. Talk to you, when you want, asking to Keep this mail personal off the record. My only intention is that you really know who. Iam, and about the aberration of this case of illaramendi Which iam a victim of the fraud.
i just want to touch basis with you in advance knowing diego is extremely busy until sunday.
So iam looking forward to see you or talk when you consider.
My mail adress is email@example.com.
All The best
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From: Alek Boyd
Subject: Re: Reff diego arria.
Date: 20 April 2013 09:50:54 BST
Dear Mr. Beracha,
Many thanks for getting in touch, and please do accept my apologies for the delayed reply.
Firstly, I need to clarify that throughout nearly a decade of blogging about Venezuela, extortion has never been a motivation. Those who know me well will be able to vouch for my integrity, which is beyond reproach by anyone who has made it in the moral cesspit that is Venezuela.
Secondly, I have been for years now, researching, cataloguing, and writing about corruption in Venezuela. In that regard, I can proudly boast of having exposed a few people: Eva Golinger, the Venezuelan Information Office and its paid hacks, Smartmatic, North American Opinion Research, Majed Khalil, Gemalto, Williams - PDVSA deal, Petropar, Marcelo Barone, and more recently the thugs running Derwick Associates.
That being the case, I am sure you will understand that I have taken a keen interest on the case of Illarramendi, in which you seem to have a rather important role, as Illarramendi's intermediator of choice. I have read nearly all of the material related to it, and I have been able to establish that, indeed, you took part in operations that were not strictly kosher. That has prompted me to do more research into your companies, connections and business associates, such as David Osio (another focus of my investigations). At this point, I am compiling information, checking claims/companies/etc., which I will then process and publish.
You say you are a very honourable person. Being a honourable person myself, I presume you will have nothing to hide, and so I would like to send, if you agree, a set of very detailed questions about your business structure, operations in different jurisdictions, associates (both locally and internationally), returns, and relations with Venezuelan PEPs. Basically what I am trying to determine is whether you have collaborated -perhaps unknowingly- in siphoning money out of Venezuela, money laundering, racketeering, and aiding and abetting wanted individuals.
Your collaboration in this respect will be greatly appreciated, as I am in the process of writing a book about the legacy of Hugo Chavez, in which the "Boliburgeoisie" will be a central feature.
With best wishes,
Subject: Re: Reff diego arria.
Date: 30 April 2013 14:17:18 BST
To: "Alek Boyd"
Dear Mr. Boyd
Thanks for the reply and for pointing out that you too are an honorable person. First of all, I can assure you that all my business operations are clean. Is not correct to put adjectives for my operations currently under investigation like "not strictly kosher". All my transactions are legitimate and had always been attached to the regulations in the country in which they have been carried out.
Related with the set of questions that you mentioned, in this moment I can't reply to any document. I have nothing to hide, but my legal counsel recommended me to not give any new declaration, because it can affect the process now under investigation. This is a very complex case that needs deep investigation, unbiased and thorough recollection of evidence. My only resolve is to clear my name of any shady allegations and recover my much needed peace which has harmed intensely not only me, but also my wife, kids and extended family and friends.
In the other hand, I can give you two brief answers about your comments in the last mail. About Mr Francisco Illarramendi, all I have to say is now public and you can find on interviews that took place last months.
Related to David Osío and Davos, I can only say that Mr Osío has never been my business partner. We have never done business together of any nature, with Davos or with any other company. Furthermore, the mention of Davos in the case now under investigation is not directly related with me. The next steps to be taken by the court will show you that I'm telling the truth I’m sure you can’t find any transaction with Davos that has any connection with me, simply because it doesn´t exist.
I regret I can't say anything more, but the most important thing right now is the satisfactory progress of the case.
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T
----End of email exchange----