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[UPDATED] What are Bill Duker and David Boies doing in Venezuela?

[Please see UPDATE] Further to PDVSA US Litigation Trust saga, a new name has emerged: Bill Duker.

"The businessman became involved with Holt four months ago at the request of an American yachting buddy, Bill Duker, according to three people familiar with the case. They agreed to discuss the matter only if not quoted by name because of its politically sensitive nature. With Ruperti's financial backing, they said Duker solicited the help of his friend David Boies, whose blue-chip Manhattan law firm is also defending one of the two so-called "narco nephews" of Venezuelan First Lady Cilia Flores. Both defendants signed a conflict of interest waiver after U.S. prosecutors warned that any third party paying their bills might pursue a legal strategy not in their best interests." Source AP "Venezuelan tycoon funds jailed Utah man's defense"

Sources report that Bill Duker is somewhat involved in financing PDVSA US Litigation Trust. The manner of Duker's alleged involvement is yet to be determined. Questions have been sent to Duker and will be posted here if and when answered.

Duker and Boies have history together. Duker had wranglings with the law in the U.S. and was arrested for fraud at some point. Aside from quoted paragraph above, there's no information related to commercial or business relations between Duker and Venezuela.

Boies, on the other hand, seems to be leveraging his trustee role at PDVSA US Litigation Trust. Sources report that high PDVSA officials allegedly instructed Boies' law firm to drop one of the main defendants from the lawsuit (Trafigura), to which Boies replied saying that any such action would have to be negotiated with him personally, given his role.

This is yet another exhibit of the sheer mismanagement and irresponsible way in which PDVSA is being run. The Trust was set up by officials associated to a competing faction, but still: how can Boies be refusing to comply with such instructions?

Revisiting the chronology is critical. Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro appointed Manuel Quevedo as PDVSA's CEO on 26 November 2017. He has since been placing allies -mostly military- in key positions. Quevedo then got a mandate from the board to do deals with Trafigura on 13 December 2017. Before Quevedo's time at the helm, previous Minister of Petroleum signed a Trust Agreement with Boies at end of July 2017. At the beginning of March 2018, Boies launched lawsuit in Florida against 49 defendants, Trafigura among them. At end of March 2018, Trafigura's Patricio Norris visited PDVSA's headquarters in Caracas, to close a swap deal with Quevedo. PDVSA continues to do deals with Trafigura. More recently, on 12 April, Nicolas Maduro gave Quevedo -in his other role as Minister of Petroleum- another mandate: absolute control of PDVSA, and any and all State-owned institutions related to energy in Venezuela (see Decree 3,368 from p.15 here).

What Decree 3,368 means in practical terms, is that Quevedo can do with PDVSA whatever he wants. That includes revisiting any agreement done by previous administration with Boies.

Boies is in an impossible position. Duker, if he is indeed involved, is also very likely to get burned. They may fleece Ruperti, but they're not going to force all-powerful Quevedo to do anything other than exactly what he wishes to do. Whatever reason that moved Ruperti to involve his "yachting buddies" in this adventure, Quevedo can in fact, unilaterally at any point in time, not only dismantle the agreement with Boies, but the Venezuelan party that entered the agreement in the first place (PDVSA). Quevedo can jail utterly corrupt Ruperti, and revoke contracts given to him. Of note, Boies' counterparts in Trust agreement are either in jail, or have no power over that of Quevedo in energy related matters, as of Presidential Decree 3,368 issued by Maduro.

Boies' extensive experience defending drug dealers, crooks and sexual predators is going to be taken to its limits in Venezuela.

UPDATE: a source pointed to the relationship between Edward P. Swyer (one of the three Trustees of PDVSA US Litigation Trust) and Bill Duker in a company called CÜR Media Inc., in which Duker is Executive Director and Swyer is Director.

Another source familiar with David Boies' activities commented on Duker's long standing association with David A. Barrett,  with whom he formed Duker & Barrett law firm. Barrett works in Boies' law firm. Nicholas A. Gravante Jr., another former partner of Duker, is a senior figure in Boies' shop. A William Duker is described in 2012 as a Lead Attorney for Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP in case #:1:93-cv-05148-ILG-SMG.

For background on Vincent Stephen Andrews, another PDVSA US Litigation Trust trustee, his propriety and past with Boies, there's this.