1 December 2012

Whatever happened to CVG's $500-million held in Gazprombank?

London 01.12.12 - The image on the right is the first page, of what sources alleged to be a two-page fax, sent by Alejandro Betancourt to buyers of steelmaker Corporación Venezolana de Guayana (CVG). Its contents are quite self explanatory:  date (Sep 04 09), time (06:36pm), name of sender (Alejandro Betancourt), fax number from where it was sent (58-212-9777399), and instructions to buyers to pay / transfer into a Gazprombank  account.

El Universal journalist, Joseph Poliszuk, reported on both the fax and a request for a penal investigation filed with Bolivar state Attorney's Office, questioning former head of CVG Rodolfo Sanz's propriety in dealing with millions of public funds. Venezuela's Attorney General's Office admitted the request, and appointed Public Prosecutor Pedro Buitrago to investigate the issue. Journalist Cesar Batiz, from Ultimas Noticias, went further, and was able to establish in his expose about Derwick Associates that the same fax number was used by "Javier Andres Alvarado Pardi, son of the former president of the EDC and former vice minister of Electricity Development."

The allegation that Sanz, on behalf on CVG, has been mismanaging public funds held in a Gazprombank account in Lebanon does not seem to be supported by the evidence provided, in my opinion. Central to the allegations, is the fax above. Do note, however, that it instructs buyers to pay into an account (30 111 840 900 0000 05861) belonging to Gazprombank Invest (Lebanon) SAL in Moscow, not in Lebanon, as has been argued in nearly all reports about this issue. The swift code provided, GAZPRUMM, belongs to Gazprombank in Moscow. Therefore any investigation into the alleged disappearance of $500 million worth of CVG funds should start in Putin's fiefdom.

But then I found an annual report from Gazprombank, from 2009, with an entry (page 68) about a $200-million "Pre-export financing for product delivery" line of credit to CVG. It corresponds with statements to the effect made by Sanz, about a $200-million line of credit with the "market's lowest interest" at 8.8%. 

So the questions are: 
  1. did Sanz settle with Gazprombank the $200-million + interest debt?
  2. If yes, how much was finally paid?
  3. If not, why it hasn't, considering allegations that about $500-million were allegedly paid into designated account by buyers?
  4. How much is left in the account?
  5. Why was that document sent from Alejandro Betancourt's fax, is it because he was / is Gazprombank's representative in Venezuela, as claimed by Sanz, and by Betancourt?
  6. What does Sanz & Betancourt have to say about it?
  7. Have Sanz & Betancourt been summoned by the Prosecutor to explain their  actions & involvement?
  8. Given that Gazprombank is now, officially, a partner of the Venezuelan State in a joint venture, what's it take in all this?
  9. In light of point 8, is Derwick's Alejandro Betancourt still Gazprom's and Gazprombank's representative for the "Andean region"?
  10. What's the status of the investigation?

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