14 March 2013

ACU Chairman Al Cardenas & FTI Consulting strike gold with Hugo Chavez's Cronies

29-year old, billionaire (?), Pedro Trebbau-Lopez. 
London - ACU Chairman Al Cardenas’s web of relationships with Hugo Chavez’s cronies goes back for years and extends to defence of individuals involved in fraud, theft, and money laundering. The day before yesterday, prior to posting an article further exposing the connections between Cardenas and some of Venezuela's most corrupt  Boligarchs, I emailed Cardenas and his PR person at the ACU (Laura Rigas) requesting comments. They both read my emails but chose not to reply. As a blogger trying to report objectively, I felt I had to give them the chance to defend their professional relationship with the men behind Derwick Associates. Next I sent a request for comment to Joseph DeMaria, attorney at Tew Cardenas law firm, representing Pedro Trebbau-Lopez and Alejandro Betancourt-Lopez in the $300-million lawsuit against Banco Venezolano de Credito, and freemarket think tank CEDICE-Libertad's Oscar Garcia Mendoza and Rafael Alfonzo.

DeMaria did reply, saying:

Mr Boyd. I will refer to the public record.

I, and not Mr. Cardenas,am the attorney who was hired as litigation counsel for Mr. Betancourt and Mr. Trebbau. My firm has never represented Derwick in this litigation. When I was hired earlier this year, I was hired to represent these two individuals. And that is who I have appeared for in this case.

Further despite your constant reference to Mr. Cardenas in connection with this litigation, he does not provide any litigation services in this matter. The litigation is handled exclusively by me and my litigation team.

I hope this clears up any confusion you may have had about how this litigation is being handled.

So, I stand corrected. Mr. Cardenas’s firm isn’t representing Derwick Associates, it is instead representing the two listed owners of Derwick Associates: recently-minted billionaires (?) Messrs. Trebbau-Lopez and Betancourt-Lopez. Cardenas’s firm represents the owners of Derwick Associates, not Derwick Associates itself.

The Tew Cardenas law firm has 23 attorneys in total. It isn’t some 500-attorney firm. It is a boutique. Cardenas is founder and principal of Tew Cardenas. Mr. DeMaria's claim, that Mr. Cardenas has nothing to do with either Derwick Associates and/or its principals, as far as litigation is strictly concerned, may be true. But how many of the firm’s clients does he actually ever represent? He is the rainmaker and chief salesman. Who got the contract, Mr. DeMaria? My sources in Venezuela state that Cardenas himself made the sale, that Cardenas was fully aware of the provenance of Derwick's fortune, and he saw an opportunity to make a killing in fees, and possibly get a lobbying contract. Can Cardenas actually say he has never met anyone from Derwick Associates before? In fact, the Derwick boys’ choice of venue in Florida (an odd choice if you consider the anti-Chavez sentiment of any Florida jury) had a lot to do with the phrase purportedly used by Cardenas during the sale: “I don’t lose cases in my own back yard.”

Al Cardenas (right) with R. Fernandez
Barrueco (left).
But let’s discuss a different white collar criminal from Chavez’s circle: Ricardo Fernandez Barrueco, another Boligarch billionaire who went from parking cars as a valet to being a major Chavez contractor and money launderer. He is another Venezuelan previously represented by Tew Cardenas in a tussle with the Drug Enforcement Agency. DeMaria was Fernandez Barrueco's counsel then. So, again, is this another person unknown to Cardenas? Can anyone buy DeMaria's argument that Cardenas -founder and principal of Tew Cardenas- is completely unaware and removed from what his junior partners are doing in representation of his law firm? Mr. DeMaria's argument flies in the face of photo ops where the ACU Chairman appears all chummy with this criminal (see picture). But it does not end there. In the same soiree when Cardenas was posing for pictures with Fernandez Barrueco, FTI Consulting's top dogs -Neal Hochberg, Matias Mora Simoes, Jack Dunn IV, Frank Holder and Erik Miller- were also present, which would suggest that both Cardenas and FTI Consulting have been pitching, and getting, substantial business contracts from Venezuela’s worst for a few years now. And guess who the Derwick boys hired to do their “image consulting”? You guessed it: FTI Consulting.

But why stop there? Tew Cardenas is currently representing none other than David Osio of Davos International Bank. This is a household name when discussing the Chavez government corruption and fraud. And once more, it turns out Mr. DeMaria has been retained as the legal counsel for David Osio, in a lawsuit initiated by former partners Rodrigo Fernandez and Andres Sotillo. Is DeMaria going to argue now that Cardenas has nothing to do with this either? Venezuelan financial bloggers claimed in the past that Osio was FTI Consulting's “representative” in Caracas, so a bit of context is in order, for those unaware of "banker" David Osio.

David Osio.
David Osio is one of a handful financial operators that have defrauded the Venezuelan people in the hundreds of millions. He is involved in the ponzi scheme set up by Francisco Illarramendi, in which approximately $550 million worth of pension money belonging to Venezuela’s oil workers disappeared (with the help of David Osio’s banks). In that case in particular, Moris Beracha, another former client of FTI Consulting, paid bribes to a PDVSA official using Osio's financial network. But that is not Osío first financial faux pas. Back in the day, his time at Banco Latino International during the Venezuelan banking crisis in the 1990s was questioned, as well as his actions at Global Bank and Dollar Savings Bank, for which the Office of Thrift Supervision ruled his activities as illegal. In association with others he forged documents to steal “considerable amounts” of money -belonging to Enrique Delfino- whose heirs, expecting funds to be part of their estate, realised that funds trusted to Osio had vanished and took him to court. Osio helped Gonzalo Tirado get chavista clients for Allen Stanford's ponzi scheme. Osio has also been involved in countless illegal transactions to help PDVSA officials, chavista ministers and members of the Bolibourgeoisie --Derwick Associates purportedly among them-- siphon and launder billions. For said operations, Osio would have made millions in commissions and is believed  to have used Goldman Sachs, Bank Bauer, JP Morgan, UBS, CF Monaco, HSBC, Deutsche Bank and other financial institutions as part of his laundering operation. Osio also appears to have run into trouble in Switzerland, in relation to operations of D Société Financière Suisse S.A., another vehicle he used to move PDVSA's millions. Osio used to operate in Miami, with Mauro Nannini, but due to the lawsuit Tew Cardenas is handling he decided to close shop and move north, to New York City, where Andres Coles is looking after his interests. Osio’s financial network spans Venezuela, Panama, Mexico, Brazil, Portugal, the U.S., Switzerland, Antigua & Barbuda, even New Zealand. Fernandez and Sotillo, his former partners, claim that Osio even used his own mother to allegedly perpetrate a multi-million dollar fraud.

Andres Coles, Osio's man in NY
There is enough here for a book about corruption in Venezuela, one of the legacies of Hugo Chavez we will have to deal with for years to come. I post this as yet another example of the kind of Venezuelan clients Tew Cardenas is taking on, regularly. I risk sounding like a broken record here, but the United States' authorities would do well investigating the activities of David Osio, its relations to FTI Consulting and Tew Cardenas, and how Venezuelan crooks like Fernandez Barrueco, Beracha, Trebbau-Lopez, Betancourt-Lopez and Osio are abusing the system -with FTI's and Cardenas's help, and using stream of commerce and financial markets to launder their ill gotten fortunes. Despite what Mr. DeMaria claims, Al Cardenas seems to be up to his neck in all this. It is his prerogative to do so, of course, but the moral position of his ACU-GOP leader public persona is untenable.


nicacat56 said...

Another good one, Alek. BTW, see if you can find the Derwick Associates condolences in this picture: http://caracaschronicles.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/img-20130314-00428.jpg
I thought you'd appreciate it!

Boli-Nica said...

Town Caller is funded by one of the billionaires who presents a big award at CPAC

"CPAC Chairman Al Cardenas came out to announce that he and Santorum were going to hand out a brand-new award for conservative philanthropy. The recipient, it turned out, was Foster Friess, the conservative billionaire who almost single-handily financed Santorum’s presidential campaign with his own private super PAC.

Thus, there was an odd scene on the main stage here where Friess received an award from Santorum in honor of his donations to Santorum. Friess funds other conservative causes as well, including a reportedly sizable investment in the Daily Caller website."


OnlyGodSees said...

Office of Thrift Supervision ruled his activities as illegal.... link is dead/obsolete. I could only find a report about Dollar Savings engaging in suspicious mortgage loans on the new website for OTS. No mention directly of Osio. Is there a direct mention of him in any of the official docs or is it just institutional reference to Dollar Savings Bank, etc?

AB said...

Google is your friend...