20.1.13

Gerard Depardieu sets shop in St Kitts & Nevis?

London 20.01.2013 | This morning I was reading about how the Cayman Islands will become more transparent with regards to dodgy companies registered under its jurisdiction. A while ago I was doing some due diligence stuff, which took my online fact-finding mission to another opaque place (St Kitts & Nevis). I recall my amazement at the time, when I realised that anyone could register to access St Kitts & Nevis e-Register database of companies and, literally, modify entries, add information, add / change directors, change addresses, etc., to already registered companies.

I thought it was a momentary loophole in the database that would get fixed, but it hasn't, as I noticed today. In any case, I ran a few searches and found some interesting things, the first one is that Asdrubal Chavez, Hugo Chavez's cousin and Refining Vice President at PDVSA,  is director of something called PDV St. Kitts-Nevis Limited, a joint venture between Chavez and St Kitts under the Petro-Caribe Agreement.

But imagine my surprise when I came across the name of Gerard Depardieu, the French actor who's been in the news lately for his tax-dodging stance. It turns out Monsieur Depardieu, or someone pretending to be him, registered a few companies, such as Rabler Limited, a for profit venture for the "growing of tropical and subtropical fruits"; a second one called Mozart Corporation, for the purpose of "growing vegetables and melons, roots and tubers." Then there's Orly Limited, for "growing of cereals (except rice)..."; AeroGraphy Ltd, dedicated to "remediation activities and other waste management services"...

Who would've known? Mr Depardieu about to become a farmer in the Caribbean? The records are a good example of the prevalent opacity of tax havens. In Rabler Limited, the registered office contact details are:

36 Sullivan Court, AREEGRA VIC 3480, Basseterre, SAINT KITTS AND NEVIS,
email: victoria@alfa-xp.com,
phone: +544454555

In Mozart Corporation, registered office contact details are:

36 Sullivan Court, AREEGRA VIC 3480, Basseterre, SAINT KITTS AND NEVIS,
email: victoria@alfa-xp.com,
phone: +9996666

The other companies pretty much share the details above, the only difference being phone numbers. That email address belongs to domain http://www.alfa-xp.com, a "privately held software development company, with offices in Ashburn, VA (USA) and in Moldova (Eastern Europe). The core of the company's technical team has been working together as a software development outsourcing unit serving local and international clients for the last five years. The company employs over twenty software programmers and IT professionals. All of them hold advanced degrees in software engineering, computer programming and management."


The managers of Alfa-Xp are Sergey S. Chapkey, Yury Coroban, and G. Martin Lively. Make of those names whatever you will.

The phone numbers are equally bogus.

Mr Depardieu, known around the world as a successful actor, is meant to be in the aerospace business, according to records (see screenshot).

Now that he has been given Russian citizenship by none other than thug-in-chief Vladimir Putin though, it is quite clear that "Mr Depardieu" won't have to worry about his fruit plantations in St Kitts & Nevis.


19.1.13

OEA: club delincuencial

Londres, 19.01.2013 - Mi desconfianza por Wikipedia es publica y conocida: basicamente no confio en enciclopedias editadas por individuos cuyas referencias y credenciales académicas nadie chequea. Dicho esto, citare un contenido que sé que es cierto:

Federico Boyd (Panamá, República de Nueva Granada, 24 de septiembre de 1851 - 25 de mayo de 1924) fue un político panameño, cuarto presidente de la República de Panamá.

Se dedicó a los negocios e hizo una fortuna. Incursionó en el mundo político de su gobierno y es conocido como un abogado patriota que luchaba por su patria a pesar de las consecuencias que esta acarreara...

Ese señor era mi bisabuelo paterno, y tuvo un rol significativo y de liderazgo en la independencia de Panamá y el istmo, y subsiguientes negociaciones de Philippe Bunau-Varilla con el gobierno de Theodore Roosevelt para la construcción del Canal de Panamá. Por historias familiares sé que Federico Boyd era bastante intransigente en lo concerniente a la defensa de la soberanía panameña. Su hijo, Julio Enrique Boyd, tambien estuvo envuelto en asuntos políticos panameños, en tiempos de Arnulfo Arias. Mi padre, hasta donde sé, nunca estuvo envuelto en política, ni en Panamá, donde nació, ni en Venezuela, donde murió.

No obstante, bastante escuche en casa, desde pequeño, temas independentistas y la necesidad de mantener y defender la soberanía. Pues ello indica independencia personal, de criterio, y colectiva. El derecho a decidir asuntos de competencia propia sólo le pertenece al individuo. Tanto de mi lado paterno, como de mi lado materno (mi abuelo fue un gudari que luchó por el derecho a la auto determinación y cultura vasca contra el caudillo Franco), esa actitud fue una constante, que me precio de mantener.

Pero lo que me motiva hoy a escribir todo esto es la vergonzosa actitud del actual presidente de Panamá, Ricardo Martinelli. Este Sr Martinelli, quien dista mucho de ser respetuoso de la libertad de expresión, asumió, con respecto a la intervención del Embajador de Panamá Willy Cochez en la OEA, una actitud que no puede describirse si no como genuflexa. Creo poder aseverar, con toda certeza, que mis antepasados panameños no lucharon por la independencia y soberania de Panamá, para que en el futuro llegase al poder un pusilánime cuyas decisiones están regidas por el miedo que pareciera tenerle a los dictadores comunistas cubanos, y a los leguleyos apátridas venezolanos que los mantienen, en detrimento de nuestra nación.

Lo que dijo el Embajador Cochez en la OEA sobre el régimen chavista no es sino una reiteración de otras, igualmente ciertas, intervenciones pasadas. Venezuela no es una democracia, es un protectorado cubano. Mal puede un pais bajo el dominio de una dictadura definirse como una democracia. Mal puede un gobierno ejercido desde una capital foránea llamarse independiente o soberano. Es, hay que reiterarlo, un estado bochornoso de cosas. Dificilmente podrán los historiadores encontrar un mejor ejemplo de la cesión abyecta de la soberanía de un país, como la efectuada en Venezuela por el golpista Hugo Chavez a sus idolos comunistas cubanos.

Tristemente, las palabras de Cochez no encontraron eco en la oficina de Martinelli, quien raudo acude a argumentos falaces para defenderse de sus posturas antidemocráticas, pero cuando de defender la democracia se trata, decide bajarle la cabeza al absolutismo castro-chavista, y destituir a quienes hablan con la verdad.

Que poca vergüenza  Que falta de identidad. Que ignorancia historica, y, lo peor, que falta de independencia y honor.

17.1.13

Who is Andres Rene Guzman?

From: "Andres Guzman"
Date: Tue, 5 May 2009 14:26:37 -0300
To: <oscthom@gmail.com>
To: Subject: Para el ministro 

Oscar favor hacerle llegar al Ministro confidencialmente esta info: 


Asunto: Memorando de Entendimiento entre PDVSA y FLUVIOMAR SA 


Estimada Sra. Embajadora Alicia Castro, 

Continuando nuestra amable diálogo telefónico, tengo el agrado de enviarle el siguiente resumen de lo conversado entre PDVSA y nuestra empresa FLUVIOMAR SA. Nuestra intención es de que en la próxima visita Presidencial se pudiera firmar algún tipo de protocolo sobre la materia de logística, distribución y transporte entre la Republica Bolivariana de Venezuela y los países miembros del MERCOSUR. 


Andres Rene Guzman (left) and Asdrubal Chavez,
signing agreement to create Fluvialba 
(credit Aporrea.org)
LONDON, 17.01.2013 | The above is an email sent to Oscar Alfredo Thomas by Andrés René Guzman “for the attention of the Minister”. Oscar Alfredo Thomas is Executive Director of Yaciretá Binational Entity, a joint Argentina - Paraguay commission that built and runs the Yaciretá Dam, and “the Minister” is none other than Julio de Vido, Argentina's Minister of Planning and Public Investment

Guzman asks Thomas to send a message to de Vido, who in turn forwards it Jose Maria Olazagasti (de Vido's right hand man and extra-official chargé d'affairs on all things Venezuela), who ultimately passes it to Cristina Kirchner's Ambassador in Caracas, Alicia Castro. The communication from Guzman goes on to explain his background, capacity of Fluviomar company, and intention to enter into a wide-scope agreement with PDVSA. It can be read in full here (Spanish). Only 10 days later, on 15 May 2009, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the parties. In July Guzman got back in touch with de Vido, again through Thomas, with an update on the deal. Then in August, President Hugo Chavez's cousin, Asdrubal Chavez, officially announced the fusion of PDVSA and Fluviomar, and the creation of Fluvialba.

In another revealing email, Andres Guzman is referred to as “advisor” of Paraguay's former President Fernando Lugo, although Guzman is from Argentina...

So who is this Andres Rene Guzman, who enjoys such good relations, and access to the highest offices in Argentina, Paraguay and Venezuela?

Guzman is mentioned as Manager of Fluviomar in a business wire entitled “Argentina's Fluviomar, Samuel Gutnisky integrate Parana river fleets”, dated March 2001: “FM Navegacion (FMN) said it is integrating the Parana-Paraguay river fleets of Fluviomar SA and Samuel Gutnisky SA... A joint-service between FMN and Cia Naviera Horamar SA and Brazil's Cinco-Bacia takes the total to over 250 barges, 28 tugs.” He is also mentioned as Fluviomar's CEO in the IV Colloquy of Andean Ports, held in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, in October 2001.

ABC Color, Paraguay's largest newspaper, traced Guzman's background in the region, publishing an article about his relations with President Fernando Lugo in July 2009. In it, he is depicted as a former cab driver, an evangelical preacher, and even a pest-controller (fumigator), who eventually landed in the fluvial cargo business. According to this source, Guzman started off in Vilas, a cargo company that went bust under his leadership. From there he built an overnight fortune, through acquisition of barges (see above), establishing himself as a powerful impresario in that sector. Guzman worked with the Lopez brothers (owners of Horamar), who became rich by providing cargo services to Petropar, Paraguay's oil company. Guzman also worked with American Commercial Barge Line (ACBL, now ACL).

ABC Color also has him as one of the main financial backers of Fernando Lugo in 2008, before winning Paraguay's presidency. What is clear is that Guzman managed to get a few sweet deals from Lugo once in office. His Argentinean companies, Fluviomar / Conosur, displaced that of the Lopez brothers (Horamar) and all other Paraguayan companies, and was awarded, in an illegal non-bidding process, rights to transport most of Petropar's oil and oil derivatives cargo. So far so normal, but it soon ran into trouble: another article has it that New York-based Provident Group attempted to seize $30 millions worth of Petropar payments to Fluviomar, due to its failure to pay a loan (earlier acquisitions). ABC Color added that Fluviomar had pending debts with Cargill Finance, $80 million; Medley Found, $50 million; Merril Lynch, $20 million; and MMX, $10 million; and it was sued by Ocean Bulker in the U.S. for another $25 million.

The deal with Petropar is believed to have been worth $550 million per year, alas it was not meant to last long: Paraguay's Commissioner of Procurement ruled against the deal, and was removed from the post as a consequence. But Guzman managed to win over Argentina's President Cristina Kirchner and her Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chavez, getting his company in other lucrative deals:

  • his Fluviomar company became an associate of Argentina-controlled TANDANOR for the construction of 50 barges and 15 river ships for PDVSA; 
  • Fluviomar became partner in Fluvialba, a Venezuela – Argentina binational joint venture to give Venezuela access to MERCOSUR; 
  • Fluviomar was to transport -through joint venture Fluvialba- all iron, soy, beef and other PDVSA/Venezuela-related purchases and cargo in the Southern Cone's Plata-Parana waterway; 
  • part of the PDVSA / Petropar deal, whereby PDVSA delivered oil, gasoil, and other derivatives on Delivered Ex Ship (DES) conditions in Villa Elisa, named Fluviomar as partner of choice.

One of his companies (Fluviomar) is mentioned in three separate agreements between Venezuela and Argentina. He was invited by Hugo Chavez to consult on how Venezuela could further develop the Orinoco waterway. He travelled to Venezuela with Cristina Kirchner to ink some questionable deals. In addition, Guzman appears to have been involved with Palmat, an intermediary company suspected to have charged 15% commission to all Argentinean companies that sold products or services to Venezuela as part of another binational agreement. Judge Julian Ercolini requested from Argentina's Foreign Ministry copy of bilateral agreement (worth $500 million) signed between PDVSA and Fluviomar, and sent another request, to the General Inspector of Justice, to provide registry documents related to Palmat S.A., Palmat USA, ACBL Hidrovías S.A., Fluviomar and Fluvialba, after it was alleged that said companies shared directors (Paloma Lowenthal and Juan de Dios Santucchi).

ACBL Hidrovias S.A., Fluviomar and Palmat share the same address, and with respect to directors evidence is as damning: Paloma Lowenthal was Fluviomar's Manager of Institutional Relations in 2007. ACBL and Fluviomar also share the same CEO in Venezuela, Exeario Enrique Gil Rivas [see here and here], and both companies have been stricken off the registry (Registro Nacional de Contratistas). Gil Rivas is also quoted as Manager of ACBL in the Dominican Republic, which registry records show as dissolved. Guzman appears as partner/manager of Fluviomar Venezuela in another government site.

Interestingly, there is no record of Fluviomar in Argentina's Unique Taxpayer Code (CUIT) database. There are, however, two separate records related to Fluvialba: the first since September 1994; and the second (related to FLUVIALBA - UNION TRANSITORIA DE EMPRESAS) from end of July 2009.

From left: Amado Boudou, Cristina Kirchner, Oscar 
A. Thomas and Julio de Vido (courtesy of Yaciretá)
According to leaked emails, Guzman communicates with Julio de Vido through Oscar Alfredo Thomas. Check the picture on the left. Jose Maria Olazagasti is Julio de Vido's minion. The partner of Jose Maria Olazagasti's sister is Juan Zabaleta, Secretary of Argentine's Senate and right hand man of Amado Boudou, Argentina's Vice President. Therefore, Guzman doesn't lack connections in Buenos Aires. The fact that as soon as Lugo won Paraguay's Presidency share of Petropar shipments undertaken by Guzman companies increased dramatically indicates that claims of his close connections to Lugo are credible. While bilateral agreements between Cristina Kirchner and Hugo Chavez have been called “the fraud of the century”, the name of Guzman keeps popping. Guzman maintains that criticism of his contracts and relations are a media campaign “promoted by those who lost deals when Lugo was elected.”

How come a company that does not seem to have paid taxes ever benefited from all these contracts? Who in Paraguay, Argentina and Venezuela failed to do due diligence on it? How come a man nearing bankrupcy is allowed into binational deals worth hundreds of millions? How come his speaking on behalf of MERCOSUR countries without holding public office anywhere, in communications to Kirchner's Ambassador in Caracas, did not raise alarms? What was Julio de Vido's part in this? Did he get commissions from Guzman's deals with Chavez? How about Olazagasti? And Kirchner, what does she have to say? Guzman partnered with TANDANOR, in a barge-building deal with Venezuela, did she get a kickback from that, or was she burned after exposure of the $800,000 that Chavez's emissary Guido Antonini failed to give her for re-election?

Guzman is purchasing bankrupt companies in Venezuela nowadays. His accounts with U.S. companies  are still pending. So long as chavistas are in power, his businesses will probably mushroom. Ditto in Argentina, where his utterly corrupt allies are either in office or running for it. The small nation of Paraguay though, by kicking out Lugo and Guzman, may have well set a precedent among thuggish administrations of MERCOSUR countries on how to deal with such specimens.



The "Who Is?" series is a new type of article I shall be posting on a regular basis.  Given that this blog has become a source for journalists, bankers performing KYC, prosecutors, immigration authorities, public policy analysts, intelligence agencies, and concerned citizens, I have decided to publish research in a simpler and more comprehensive way.  The "Who Is" series is an attempt to provide accurate, factual snapshots of some of the more "colorful" members of the fauna inside corrupt governments and enabling societies. Readers' suggestions for a "Who Is?" profile can email me at alek dot boyd at gmail dot com.

15.1.13

Who is Pedro Delgado Campaña?

Pedro Delgado Campaña,
picture courtesy of Ecuador's
Central Bank website.
Su experiencia profesional también incluye haber sido Intendente Nacional de Supervisión en Ecuador y Gerente de Riesgos de la Corporación Financiera Nacional del Ecuador. El señor Delgado obtuvo una maestría en Economía Empresarial y un post grado en Administración Bancaria en el INCAE (Costa Rica).”

London, 15.01.2013 - The paragraph above has been taken from a profile of Pedro Delgado, still visible (as of January 15, 2013) on the Central Bank of Ecuador's website..

Mr Delgado has resigned from his post as head of the Central Bank of Ecuador upon discovery that his academic credentials were false. Mr Delgado never finished any of the degrees he claimed to have obtained. What is true, however, is that Mr Delgado is cousin of Ecuador's President Rafael Correa, and enjoys his support.

In the context of the paragraph above, the term “obtuvo” means having gained or completed, an Master's Degree in Business Finance, and post graduate studies in Banking Administration at Costa Rica's INCAE. How could Mr Delgado dupe Ecuador's Central Bank? How could President Rafael Correa not know that Mr Delgado, his cousin, never really obtained any of the academic degrees he claimed to have finished? How come no one from President Correa's government or entourage took the trouble of making sure that Mr Delgado's claimed academic credentials were legitimate?

Mr Delgado is a good exhibit of the way in which political appointments are made across Latin America, where credentials for the job are totally irrelevant and often sacrificed at the altar of political expediency.

Pedro Delgado Campaña's career has been controversial, and did not start with cousin Rafael Correa's assumption of Ecuador's presidency. In 1999, in the middle of Ecuador's banking crisis, Mr Delgado was Credit Risk Manager of Ecuador's National Finance Corporation (CFN). In a report commissioned in 2007 by President Correa, entitled “CFN's Financial Crisis”, published by La Vanguardia, it is claimed that Mr Delgado redacted a memo (dated March 19, 1998, ref. RI 0003736) that modified banks's credit-risk assessment criteria. The said reform allowed for “increased flexibility in acceptable credit terms and guarantees”, with the resulting effect of CFN granting funds to financial institutions that were in dire shape. The report states that Mr. Delgado's reform undermined CFN's supervision and credit recovery mechanisms. Following Mr Delgado's memo, credit limits for troubled financial institutions were also lifted. This resulted in CFN granting “more than $1 billion worth of credits.” CFN's total losses were estimated at $1.178 billion [p. 15 or report].

After his position at CFN, Mr Delgado was Manager of Financial Institutions of Ecuador's Superintendency of Banks (Superintendencia de Bancos). Mr Delgado is believed to have also been one of the key figures behind the fusion of banks Filanbanco and La Previsora, which ended up costing millions of dollars in losses to thousands of Ecuadorians. Mr Delgado also fabricated evidence, and authored at the time biased financial reports regarding Filanbanco, Banco Popular and Banco Progreso, which prompted intervention, assets confiscation and expropriation by the Ecuadorian State.

Nicolas Landes, owner of Banco Popular, subsequently sued Mr Delgado for falsification of public documents. A judge from Quito ordered the arrest of Mr Delgado in September 2000, after which he escaped to Miami, where he lived in self-imposed exile for a number of years.

Then in 2007, his cousin Rafael Correa won Ecuador's presidency on a platform of sweeping reforms, including promises in the financial sector. Amazingly, despite the huge cost of previous actions, illegal activities and his association to Jamil Mahuad's administration (object of much criticism by Correa), Pedro Delgado became President Correa's trusted advisor in financial matters. So much for a break with the corrupt past...

As previously mentioned, a report about financial irregularities in which Mr Delgado had been involved, sent to the office of President Correa and to the Attorney General's Office, appeared in the Ecuadorian press. President Correa decided to ignore the findings, though, and rewarded the Delgado family with a series of important appointments. Mrs Delgado was made Ecuador's Consul in Miami, and her brother, Francisco Endara, was first appointed as Manager of Bank Deposits Guarantee Agency (AGD) and then as Secretary of CFN-AGD's No Más Impunidad Trust. Mr Delgado himself, while in exile in Miami, first coordinated Ecuador's Bank Commission (Junta Bancaria), before going on to have a meteoric ascent in Correa's administration.

In 2008, Carl Wolf, at the time President and CEO of Miami's Pacific National Bank (PNB), wholly owned by Banco del Pacifico, which is in turn controlled by the Ecuadorian government through Ecuador’s Central Bank (BCE), sued PNB for unfair dismissal. The terms of the lawsuit revolved around Mr Wolf's refusal to: 
  1. make illegal payments to Andres Baquerizo (PNB's board member and CEO of PNB's parent Banco del Pacifico); 
  2. hire through third parties “a known embezzler from Ecuador” (Luis Wilfrido Villacis Guillen, convicted felon involved in misappropriation of public funds related to Filanbanco); 
  3. reopen bank accounts that had been closed in observance to U.S. Bank Secrecy Act, Patriot Act and other federal and anti money laundering directives;
  4. ignore U.S. Banking and anti money laundering regulations.
Although Mr Wolf's lawsuit may seem unrelated, it also leads back to Mr Delgado, who, as Director of BCE, instructed Wolf to “reconstitute trade financing and lending operations”. According to the lawsuit this was “in contravention to the agreed upon risk profile that PNB was obligated to follow pursuant to an applicable Consent Order entered into the United States Office of the Comptroller of Currency (OCC) and PNB.” Mr Delgado basically threatened to fire Wolf immediately should he refuse to implement instructions.

One of the accounts at PNB that Wolf ordered closed belonged Cassia Delgado, Secretary of President Correa, and cousin of both President Correa and Mr Delgado. Mrs Delgado failed to disclose the source of thousands of U.S. dollars paid into her account.

By this time, though, Mr Delgado had well and truly established himself as a power broker in the nepotistic regime of Rafael Correa. Assets worth billions of dollars that belonged to the banks that had been intervened and expropriated in the early noughties -in great part owing to Mr Delgado's decisions- were now back in his hands, as he became Director of CFN-AGD No Más Impunidad, a vehicle created to administer and dispose of said assets.

Mr Delgado enlisted his brother in law, Francisco Endara, who was identified as responsible for a $800,000 credit -without collateral- given to Argentinian Gastón Duzac, via a financial institution (COFIEC) under Mr Delgado's and Mr Endara's control. Shortly after disbursement to Duzac, Mr Delgado made a $200,000 payment for a house in Miami. Media and journalists covering these issues received death threats.

As Head of Ecuador's Central Bank Mr Delgado was also in charge of establishing triangulation mechanisms that -using Ecuador's banking system and USD-denominated currency market- would have allowed Iran to circumvent OFAC and other international sanctions. Press reports indicate that Mr Delgado “arrived on April 3 to the Khomeini airport in Tehran, with a delegation which included his brother-in-law Francisco Endara, who was coordinator of the Technical Secretariat of the Trust and now adviser of COFIEC bank (currently a fugitive due to the irregular loan granted to DUZAC).”

The purpose of the trip is believed to have been to sell to Iran companies and assets seized by the government of Ecuador.

The press further reports that “Seven months after his visit to Iran, Delgado intervened to facilitate the deposit of the Iranian Embassy, of USD 1.8 million in cash in COFIEC. On November 15 and 24, 2011, the deposits were made in a savings account of the Iranian Embassy, USD 112,834, 500,000 and 1’360.000.”

In another trip, Mr Delgado met with representatives of Pasargad Bank, Export Development Bank (EDBI), Saman Bank and Parsian Bank, to discuss the sale of COFIEC. Mr Delgado also met with OFAC-sanctioned representatives of Iran's Bank Melli in Moscow. Reports claim that, while in Moscow, Mr Delgado stashed $500,000 in cash in a security box.

All these revelations have had consequences back in Ecuador. While President Correa had no initial qualms at strongly supporting his cousins [Pedro and Cassia], evidence kept mounting and finally his nepotism was exposed. Spurred by a Congressman's denunciations, Ecuador's Attorney General's Office has launched four investigations into Mr Delgado for:
  1. illegal expropriation of companies and money transfers to Switzerland, 
  2. doubts about his estate, 
  3. responsibility in banking crisis during his tenure at CFN, 
  4. and illegal purchase of a house in Quito.
In addition, Ecuador requested the United States to revoke Mr Delgado's visa, which was promptly granted. Statements from Ecuador's Foreign Secretary, Ricardo Patiño, referring to Mr Delgado as a traitor may well be simple posturing.

Whatever the future holds for Mr Delgado though, it remains troubling that a fully aware President Rafael Correa, put Delgado at the helm of Ecuador's Central Bank, and then protected him, even after he was publicly revealed to be a fraudster, a money launderer. Mr Delgado is a man who has abused the law and his positions to steal private property. He is an individual whose entire life and record is based on lies and fabrications, and accordingly has such a dysfunctional moral compass that he deals with Islamic fundamentalists and terrorists. But, perhaps most importantly, he is an individual whose actions in public office have caused billions of dollars in losses to thousands of Ecuador's citizens.



The "Who Is?" series is a new type of article I shall be posting on a regular basis.  Given that this blog has become a source for journalists, bankers performing KYC, prosecutors, immigration authorities, public policy analysts, intelligence agencies, and concerned citizens, I have decided to publish research in a simpler and more comprehensive way.  The "Who Is" series is an attempt to provide accurate, factual snapshots of some of the more "colorful" members of the fauna inside corrupt governments and enabling societies. Readers' suggestions for a "Who Is?" profile can email me at alek dot boyd at gmail dot com.

13.1.13

Diego Arria, radicalismo y justicia.

Londres, 13.01.2013 - Pongo aqui el ultimo video de Diego Arria. Antes de expandir con mis opiniones, debo hacer algunas revelaciones, y aclarar, que fui contratado y trabaje con Diego durante la campaña presidencial del 2006. Desde entonces, he mantenido lo que se puede denominar como una cordial, si acaso lejana, relación con Diego. En Octubre de 2011, Diego estuvo por Londres y conversamos sobre su participación en las elecciones primarias. Desde un principio pensé, y recuerdo habérselo dicho, que veia su rol como el perfecto canciller, habida cuenta de su dilatada trayectoria diplomatica, que lo llevó a ser incluso asistente del entonces Secretario General de las Naciones Unidas, Kofi Annan. Cualquier persona minimamente versada sobre asuntos de diplomacia y geopolitica internacional sabe que llegar a ese tipo de cargos, en instituciones multilaterales como la ONU, requiere pero que mucha mano izquierda, mesura, y habilidad. Pensé, y recuerdo haberselo dicho, que su candidatura en las primarias no llegaria lejos. Y Diego me dijo algo interesante,  palabras mas o menos, me respondió "lo sé, pero alguien tiene que decir las cosas que la oposición establecida se ha negado a reclamarle a Chavez."

Dicho lo anterior, encuentro increíble que se califique a Diego Arria de radical. Encuentro inaceptable que se ose argumentar que exigir el cumplimiento de preceptos constitucionales es asumir una postura radical. Es un insulto a la inteligencia, y aquellos, tanto opositores como chavistas, que acusan de radicales a quienes, como Diego, exijen el respeto a la constitución deben ser expuestos al escarnio publico, y ridiculizados como lo que son, colaboracionistas del regimen. Venezuela no soporta ya actitudes maniqueas e irresponsables. Venezuela no soporta más el atajo de gorrones de todo tipo, de explotadores y parasitos pederastas, de narcotraficantes, de eunucos intelectuales, de pusilánimes, de lameculos rodilla-en-tierra, de apátridas, que mantienen el estatus quo, por intereses personales, en detrimento del bienestar nacional.

El que Chavez haya transferido la soberania a los dictadores cubanos, y asuntos de exclusivo interes y competencia de nuestra sociedad esten siendo decididos por esos malditos comunistas, es total y absolutamente inaceptable. Intolerable. Y no es resultado de acciones de la ultima semana, o el ultimo mes. Esa transferencia de soberania empezó el mismo dia que Chavez acudió al dizque "formalismo" de ser juramentado en enero de 1999. Desde entonces hemos devenido en colonia cubana. Me atrevo a decir que a ningún chavista, de esos ignorantes que todavia creen en el golpista apátrida, se le ha preguntado jamás si está de acuerdo en ceder a dictadores cubanos su derecho a decidir su futuro. Ello ha sido una decision personal y unica del Mussolini de Sabaneta. Y es, digamoslo abiertamente y con responsabilidad, una traición a la patria. Hugo Chavez es un traidor a Venezuela, a sus instituciones, a su pueblo, a sus costumbres republicanas, a su democracia, a su gesta independentista. Hugo Chavez es un traidor a Bolivar, de quien se podrá decir muchas cosas, buenas y malas, pero apátrida desde luego que nunca fue. Todo lo contrario.

Golpista, apátrida y traidor. Vaya adjetivos los que definen al lider de la mayoría de los venezolanos. Ojalá y se termine de morir bien pronto el mayor incitador de odio que nuestro pais ha tenido desde Boves, y ojalá que sufra un minimo del tomento y miseria que ha impuesto en Venezuela, antes de abandonar este mundo. La justicia divina existe, Chavez se puso en manos de sus "cuidadores", y de la dizque mejor medicina, y están acabando con su vida. Menos mal. Individuos como Chavez no merecen ni el respeto, ni la consideración de nadie. Por cuanto sus malas acciones anulan y con mucho las buenas, que las hay. Acción y reacción, what goes around comes around. No es radicalismo, es justicia. Y así como Chavez sólo es digno de desprecio, quienes colaboran con él, sean chavistas o de oposición, deben ser apartados de cualquier intento de formar una sociedad libre, soberana, y democratica. La auto determinación de un pueblo no puede fundarse con apátridas. 

11.1.13

How not to counter criticism: the Derwick Associates case

LONDON —. It has become standard in the Western world to expect to find information about everyone and everything via the internet. Individuals and corporations alike consult search engines to form an impression of potential friends, hires, business partners, or supported candidates. Prominent negative information can cost jobs, deals, marriages, and lawsuits. Some persons and firms invest in expensive online reputation management campaigns, as partial recognition of this fact.

Countering bad press has become so important that successful public relations firms and private spin doctors can name their price. The best of this bunch are the ones no one know about. However, public relations or spin, resuscitating public image ultimate relies on analysing claims against a client to determine veracity and undermining the credibility of a client’s critics. Broadly speaking, exposed companies and individuals are expected to take an active role in preserving their images. Some are discreet, some are very loud. Needless to say, the last thing a party trying to avoid public exposure should be doing is to draw more attention to itself, right?

Not in Venezuela. Consider the case of Derwick Associates, a company that appeared overnight, and won 12 thermoelectric contracts from high officials of the Chavez regime in the space of 14 months. Twelve contracts, arguably worth billions of dollars, in fourteen months. There is a journalist in Caracas, Cesar Batiz, who grew suspicious of Derwick’s business, partially due to the fact that he had previously worked in the electricity sector. Batiz started asking questions about Derwick Associates, questions that any competent journalist would ask: why was this company favoured over others? Why did the government grant so many contracts to a company without a track record? How come no calls for public tenders were made? Who decided what, where, when? How much public money was spent? Have the projects been completed? Who are the people behind Derwick? In sum, the sort of questioning to be expected by any company doing public deals in any democracy.

The trouble is that Venezuela is not a democracy, and Derwick Associates is not a regular company. All contracts granted to Derwick were necessarily decided by an unidentified high official, who, almost certainly, received a nice commission from the deal. The Venezuelan contract system is a revolving door of sorts, whereby those granting contracts condition their granting on the basis of percentage of commissions. And so Batiz started digging and found a few road blocks. His enquiries took him to public institutions that point blank refused to answer his legitimate questions. So he upped the ante, and took some of the parties to court, which refused point blank to force public servants to release public information about contracts paid for with public money. There is no such thing as the Freedom of Information Act in Chavez's socialist paradise. Batiz’s editor, Eleazar Diaz Rangel, took an interest in the story, and went himself to the Prosecutor's Office to formally request an investigation. Again, nothing came of it.

Derwick did not respond to Batiz, his articles, or his requests for information. Instead, it sued Oscar Garcia Mendoza, a banker, in a Florida court, for supposedly orchestrating a "defamation campaign". It did not sue Batiz. It did not sue his editor, Diaz Rangel. It did not sue the newspaper where Batiz works, Ultimas Noticias. No. Derwick rather sued a banker with no connection to either Batiz, Diaz Rangel, or Ultimas Noticias. It did not sue in Venezuela, but in the USA. It did not sue in Spanish, but in English, thus facilitating spread of information about its actions online. One can only ask: why?

Batiz's findings never received much publicity in Venezuela. Just another corruption scandal, during the most corrupt administration our utterly corrupt country has ever had. Very few eyebrows rose there. But then Derwick instructed its New York-based lawyers to sue Oscar Garcia Mendoza in Florida, and people started talking about it. Bloggers started questioning the move, and published more information about the affair. And so Derwick, a totally obscure company of two people, went from anonymity to the topic of research of US Federal Agencies. If there was ever a prize for how not to counter bad press, surely Derwick is a deserving winner. Their strategy, of suing, threatening, publishing communiqués, and harassing critics can only be termed as imbecilic in the disused psychological meaning, for, expectedly, it has produced the exact opposite results from those desired.

A year ago, only a handful of people knew about Derwick. Now governments know about Derwick, banks know about Derwick, authorities know about Derwick, even Wikipedia has an entry on Derwick, and worse of all, Google and its ubiquitous archives have many more entries about Derwick.

So here is a piece of free, unsolicited advice for companies, like Derwick Associates or Smartmatic, trying to deal with perfectly valid criticism: be discreet, fly quietly into the horizon in your Falcon 2000 with your fraudulent fortune, knowing that the more you scream and attack, the more attention you will receive. As another blogger aptly put it: intimidating bloggers and journalists is never, ever, a good strategy.  

7.1.13

Muerto Hugo Chavez, que viva el chavismo!

Londres, 7.1.13 - Que si se juramenta el 10. Que si no. Que si el articulo x puede interpretarse de tal o cual forma. Que si asume el presidente de la asamblea, o "continua el poder" en manos del vicepresidente. Que si el "ala militar", dizque anti castrista, rechazará pactos e imposiciones desde la Habana orquestadas por el "ala civil" una vez el caudillo muera. Que si el vicepresidente encargado tiene chance contra Capriles. Que si Capriles es el ungido. Que si Henri Falcon. Que si los problemas económicos terminarán con el love affair entre el chavismo y el populacho. Que si el vicepresidente encargado dizque restablecerá relaciones con EEUU. Que si devaluarán. Que si modificaran políticas cambiarias. Que si falta temporal. Que si falta absoluta. Que si formalismos constitucionales...

Lo que se percibe, con absoluta claridad desde la sana y desapasionada distancia, es que el chavismo, que ya no Hugo Chavez, tiene todas las cartas. Todas. La oposición oficial, léase MUD, no tiene voto en el futuro inmediato de Venezuela, salvo el rol de adoptar nuevamente una postura colaboracionista, en una eventual elección no aun decidida. Si así lo hiciere, que lo hará, proveerá el necesario barniz legitimador a otro proceso apañado desde un principio. Por cuanto cualquiera que fuese el desenlace el régimen chavista ha perdido ya el derecho a reclamar con un mínimo de verosimilitud credenciales democráticas. Lo más sorprendente de esta lamentable situación, es que la oposición parece haber sido coaccionada a un pacto de silencio sobre asuntos de importancia crucial, como lo es el estado de salud del primer empleado publico, y su capacidad para ejercer el cargo para el cual fue electo.

Es un estado vergonzoso de cosas. Venezuela, y todo su bravo pueblo, no son sino una colonia cubana. Una amalgama de carteles criminales controla todo el poder y todo el dinero publico. Y ello, en un país sometido al chantaje de quienes controlan la renta petrolera, hace imposible abrigar esperanzas distintas a los designios de quien ejerce y ejecuta el poder, léase el chavismo.

Toda elucubración es fútil. Sucederá lo que quiera el chavismo que suceda. Ni mas ni menos. Y ninguno de los comentaristas de oficio tiene la más minima idea de lo que se está cocinando, pues ninguno tiene linea directa con la Habana, o con quienes deciden en el chavismo.

La desaparición fisica del golpista tendrá, sin duda, consecuencias profundas que afectaran a muchos, dentro y fuera de Venezuela. Ausente el elemento aglutinante es probable que las hienas que medran a la sombra del caudillo comiencen a medir fuerzas para repartirse el botín, a lo Reservoir Dogs. Otra interpretación es que el chavismo, entendido como la unión de criminales en torno a un caudillo que no sólo permitió sino que alentó acumulación de riqueza y poder, para luego poder controlar a placer, seguirá regentando y usufructuando el poder en Venezuela. Algunos serán devorados, y otros aparecerán, pero el estado general de cosas no va a cambiar sustancialmente con la muerte de Hugo Chavez.

El chavismo, como el peronismo, llegó para quedarse.