21 August 2015

Steal over a billion > Bloomberg'll call it 'family feud'

The message from the Bloomberg reporter read:
"Hi, I'm a reporter doing something on Derwick. Can I give you a call to ask a couple of questions?"
By this time, it's evident emails and calls are standard procedure of journalists / researchers reporting Venezuela, just to cover their backs and say "yeah, we called the guy, he gave us the usual about Mr Betancourt and his Derwick co..."

While I admit it is utterly unprofessional to be posting emails sent privately without the other party's consent, I just can't honor convention with reporters that epitomise unprofessionalism. After receiving the message above I called the reporter, and answered the "couple of questions" and more. But this is precisely the problem of editorial desks and journalists around the world: to think that a meaningful story can be produced by asking "a couple of questions". Invariably, initial niceties are followed by "I don't know anything about Venezuela..." or "this story is well beyond my area of expertise..."

When one asks clueless reporters what would happen in their countries should a Derwick-like scandal take place, all of them, without failure, say "yeah, I guess you're right, it would be a scandal, heads would roll..."

So why the difference? Why is it that reporting corruption-related issues in America and Europe gain lots of traction, catapult to stardom whoever brings them to light, official probes ensue, but doing same about under-developed countries gets spun into 'family feuds'?

Venezuelans can only feel envy at what's happening in Brazil, with Petrobras, Odebrecht, etc. That however, as dramatic as it may seem, is children's play next to what goes on in our country. Corruption in PDVSA and Venezuela is orders of magnitude larger that whatever's been done in Brazil, and yet, Venezuela's most notorious gang of corrupt businessmen are presented as entrepreneurial mavericks. This is beyond sickening, and not the first time that Bloomberg misrepresents Venezuelan thugs.

Once upon a time, Forbes was made to retract an attempt at whitewashing Derwick, but they seem to have a soft spot for Bolichoros. Same goes with Bloomberg and its reporting of Derwick. Money laundering of the multimillion dollar kind is called "growth plan". Corruption, bribes, no-bid contracting and misappropriation of public funds through massive overcharges by Derwick execs is called "a family divided over his business dealings with Chavez’s government." Probes by U.S. Federal agencies, Manhattan's DA, and Spain's anti money laundering authorities, and investigative reports exposing lack of credentials get summarised as "certain relatives who weren’t happy". Doublespeak that would make Goebbels, or chavismo, proud.

Bloomberg's hacks are yet to awake to the realities of Venezuelan corruption. Producing copy, without asking any proper questions, seem to be their sole remit. And that would be fine, if it weren't a business-oriented publication. As it is, failing to establish clear and evident links between shell companies and proxies of thugs being investigated in at least two jurisdictions is inexcusable, hard to take it as mere unprofessionalism. Failing to mention forays into business areas unrelated to Derwick's alleged expertise is equally concerning, for it is now common knowledge that Derwick has a hand in Petrodelta -through Francisco D'Agostino- and in Petrozamora -through Orlando Alvarado, in association with PDVSA and Russian interests (Gazprom). Why is this not mentioned?

When did Derwick become an oil-focused company and what credentials, aside the stolen millions that allowed for such, have their execs? What track record -in oil- do they bring to the table? Why is Bloomberg regurgitating Derwick's BS instead of asking questions pertinent to shareholders and interested parties?

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Thanks, Alek. Very good article.

One of the scenarios projected by VenEconomy in its Economic and Political Outlook for the period 2015-2020 is called "Road to Hell". A road that shows a Venezuela struck by anomie, consumed by poverty, dismantled by a political and social breakdown and that tragically ends up transforming the nation into a living hell.

VenEconomy wishes to be wrong about these projections and that the country will rather take the path to return to normality, the other scenario proposed in the study, one that even though is neither easy nor short, it would save Venezuelans from chaos and destruction.

See VenEconomy: Venezuela on the Road to Hell (Latin American Herald Tribune, August 20, 2015),
at http://laht.com/article.asp?ArticleId=2394868&CategoryId=10717

From http://www.oarval.org/avalencia/VLinken.htm