To say that I am baffled by Reuters' latest 'special report' on Derwick Associates criminal boss Alejandro Betancourt would be an understatement. It is difficult to understand the sheer dishonesty that moves a so called professional journalist, writing for one of the so called most reputed media companies, and his editors (Paulo Prada and Tom Lasseter), to the extraordinary feat of publishing over 4,000 words without citing a single original source. Reuters' 'special report' on Betancourt should be taken as exhibit 1 of post modern plagiarism, alas that isn’t the worst of it. Aside from its many lies, Reuters printed Betancourt's propaganda without that most basic tenet of any investigative journalism endeavour worth reading: to challenge and question everything. Angus Berwick, the Reuters reporter in question, goes beyond taking what amounts to a PR exercise to, effectively, legitimise corruption of a type that bankrupts nations, and causes humanitarian crises.
It is a terrible state of affairs that plagiarism has become acceptable, fashionable, celebrated. Berwick lifts every single part of his 'special report' from other sources that neither him nor his editors saw worthy of citation, and people otherwise known as Venezuela experts rush to congratulate him on a job well done. Unfortunately, Reuters' brand of "investigative journalism" is widespread, plagiarism of the sort gets Pulitzers nowadays. However Reuters' editorial staff seem, how to put this charitably, Google impaired?
Reuters is, presumably and at least in public, still governed by "Trust Principles", a set of rules established in 1941 which includes stuff like "That the integrity, independence, and freedom from bias of Thomson Reuters shall at all times be fully preserved; That Reuters shall supply unbiased and reliable news services to newspapers, news agencies, broadcasters, and other media subscribers and to businesses, governments, institutions, individuals, and others with whom Reuters has or may have contracts..." How noble, isn't it?
Contractors and subscribers of Reuters' services ought to feel aggrieved, cheated even. Imagine reading, for instance, "But previously undisclosed bank, court, and corporate records...", running a Google search on subject matter (Betancourt), and finding that everything Berwick and his editors claim as "previously undisclosed" has been extensively reported elsewhere, years before appearing in Reuters' 'special reports'. There isn’t a single new claim in Reuters' 'special report' on Betancourt, and this site remains eager to be proven wrong on that account.
To this day, Derwick Associates hasn't done the first bit of non-corrupt business in Venezuela. This site has published investigation after investigation on the topic since 2012, and we have supported our reporting with most of the incriminating evidence that forms part of subsequently launched criminal probes involving Betancourt and his partners. We have shared with investigating authorities in various jurisdictions incontrovertible evidence that shows that Betancourt's every last deal in Venezuela is corrupt. Reuters, however, found acceptable to leave views of Betancourt's legal counsel unchallenged without countering with information readily available in the public domain after a simple Google search.
Another example of Berwick's 'reporting':
"In early 2010, he signed a “consulting and advisory” agreement with Nervis Villalobos, a former deputy energy minister known for industry connections. Under the contract, reviewed by Reuters, Villalobos would lobby contacts to help secure power deals. Villalobos had similar contracts with others, according to court documents and people familiar with the sector."
The contract between Derwick and Villalobos was first published in this website. Bribe payments made to Villalobos by Derwick was first published by us. Betancourt's purchase of an apartment in New York and registry information about El Alamin was first published in this website. Derwick's involvement in probe in Andorra was first published in this website. Betancourt's as conspirator no 2 in Francisco Convit's $1.2 billion money laundering scheme (for which he remains on the run) was first published in this website. This website facilitated leak of ProEnergy Services' employee Dan Rosenau to U.S. authorities, which led to subsequent analysis by Jose Aguilar. This site was also the first to post specifics about Betancourt's London residence. Somehow, Berwick missed the original source of all these information, and failed, of course, to cite it appropriately claiming instead that Reuters had "reviewed" the "previously undisclosed" information.
Berwick's churnalism was called into question elsewhere. Finews' Katharina Bart asked Berwick why he had not included information about Betancourt's banking activities in Switzerland, a story this site was also the first in publishing. The 'special report' didn’t just fail to recognise the work of other journalists, but missed entire chapters of Betancourt's criminal activities. For instance, Betancourt's direct involvement in a $4 billion plus money laundering scandal facilitated by Rafael Ramirez, who Berwick claims to have spoken to for his report. Shockingly Ramirez, the architect of all the corruption linking Betancourt, Villalobos, Derwick, Convit, Alvarado, etc., isn’t further challenged on his assessment of Derwick's suitability, and direct participation in associated graft.
Berwick failed to point to a striking aspect of its main source, Betancourt's mouthpiece Thomas Clare. Is this the same Clare that is suing Rudy Giuliani on behalf of Dominion? If so, did Berwick broach services rendered by Giuliani with Trump's AG Bill Barr to spare Betancourt from further prosecution by DoJ?
Reuters' 'special report' is indeed special, for it amounts to whitewashing. Pure and simple. Critical evidence of the thug's "entrepreneurialism" that prove without reasonable doubt that Derwick Associates is a criminal enterprise was left out. Plagiarism was selective: just certain work got lifted, other, extremely damaging to Betancourt's and his spin doctor's ridiculous claims (conveniently?) unmentioned. To present Betancourt as a legitimate "power tycoon", is akin to saying Bernie Madoff was a legitimate financier. Berwick was as thorough in his research and questioning as Derwick was solving Venezuela's blackout problems. Plagiarism, after all, wasn’t the worst of it.