19.6.15

Pacific Rubiales wakes up to O'Hara / Derwick Associates money laundering scam

O'Hara Administration Co., S.A. ("O'Hara") calls upon its fellow minority shareholders of Pacific Rubiales Energy Corp. ("Pacific Rubiales") to VOTE AGAINST the special resolution (the "Arrangement Resolution") to approve an arrangement whereby ALFA S.A.B. de C.V. ("ALFA") and Harbour Energy Ltd. ("Harbour") are proposing to acquire all of the issued and outstanding common shares ("Common Shares") of Pacific Rubiales for C$6.50 per share (the "Proposed Arrangement"). O'Hara believes that the Proposed Arrangement undervalues the Common Shares, is opportunistic given current market volatility, inappropriately incentivizes management at the expense of the minority shareholders and is not in the best interests of the minority shareholders.
You got to give it to these thugs. Boldness isn't something they lack. For here we have, a "group of investors", with no verifiable track record in oil & gas, anywhere on earth, represented by none other than Orlando Alvarado (Derwick Associates CFO), that mere days before Pacific was to announce ALFA's offer just happened to take an interest in Pacific, and in quick succession acquired nearly 20% of its shares. Opportunistic? Nooooo, just take Alvarado's word for it.

Pacific was caught napping, no doubt. It remains to be seen who leaked what, or how did Derwick find out about ALFA's impending announcement. What is unobjectionable is that once it did, Derwick reacted very quickly AND did the utmost to maintain its connection to O'Hara hidden. That is, of course, until I got information from Barbados registrar of companies about IPC Investments, one of the vehicles used by O'Hara and controlled by Alejandro Betancourt, Derwick's CEO. Then another shell controlled by Betancourt popped up in Pacific's shares purchase: Agency Partners, a vehicle used by Betancourt to buy a flat in Miami's Jade Ocean. It was then reported that Volbor Trading, O'Hara Administration, and Telmaven Overseas were three other shells controlled by Betancourt through Alvarado.

Pacific seems to have realised the dangers of allowing itself to be used by Betancourt & co for what amounts to a naked money laundering attempt. It announced some counter actions yesterday:
Pacific Rubiales Energy Corp. (TSX: PRE) (BVC: PREC) today announced that, after receiving approval from the Independent Committee of the Board of Directors, the Company is filing an application (the "Application") before the Supreme Court of British Columbia (the "Court") in connection with the proposed arrangement involving the Company, ALFA, S.A.B. de C.V. ("ALFA"), Harbour Energy, L.P., Harbour Energy Ltd. ("Harbour Energy") and 1035815 B.C. Ltd. (the "Purchaser"), pursuant to which the Purchaser would acquire all of the outstanding common shares of the Company ("Common Shares") not already owned by ALFA or held by the Company in treasury for cash consideration of C$6.50 per share (the "Arrangement"). The Application is being filed in response to significant concerns raised by Pacific Rubiales shareholders about how members of a group of Shareholders acting jointly and in concert led by O'Hara Administration Co., S.A. ("O'Hara") and Alejandro Betancourt (collectively, the "O'Hara Group") acquired their Common Shares.
In its release, Pacific asks a number of pertinent questions:
  1. Who is O'Hara?
  2. What is their investment track record in oil and gas?
  3. What is their history of corporate governance?
  4. How long have they owned their Common Shares?
  5. What is the O'Hara Group's relationship with Derwick Associates?
  6. Why is their circular lacking disclosure on these material issues? What are they trying to hide?
I feel like I can answer that.
  1. O'Hara is but a vehicle chosen by Alejandro Betancourt and his partners to "diversify", given the irremovable corruption stench that the Derwick brand has.
  2. None. As in non existent. Beyond attempts to flog oil and gas, or concessions in Venezuela, via some corrupt deal with PDVSA, nothing to write home about. Anywhere.
  3. Please refer to the recently leaked 14,000 files related to Derwick Associates dealings with Venezuela and ProEnergy Services, to learn about its "corporate governance".
  4. Indeed, how long, before Pacific made public its negotiation with ALFA? One month?
  5. The O'Hara Group has tried, repeatedly if news reports are to be used as benchmark, to obscure its relation with Derwick Associates. Bloomberg, for instance, first reported that O'Hara's main man, Orlando Alvarado, was "a Caracas-based financial consultant", without mentioning a) that Alvarado was Derwick Associates CFO; b) that IPC Investments was controlled by Betancourt (Derwick's CEO); c) that he represented "private-sector businessmen with no ties to the government" when Derwick's relations with high chavista officials, and bribe payments are a matter of huge interest and official probes in at least two countries. Alvarado hails from ABN Amro. When he left, he founded with a group of colleagues something called White Bridge Capital, where yet another employee of Derwick (Hans Hertell), works. Please note that Derwick Oil and Gas and Betancourt's IPC Investments share Trident Corporate Services as companies' Secretary, as per Barbados register records. But then Alvarado, who may be contacted at oalvardo@derwick.com, has been as recently as April 2015 discussing with Betancourt, Pedro Trebbau (Derwick's no 2), and American lawyers legal matters pertaining to pending lawsuits, issues that a person unrelated to Derwick would not be privy of.
  6. Why indeed? Could it be because they don't want Pacific and its shareholders to realise that this is nothing but an attempt to launder hundreds of millions of dollars stolen from Venezuela?
I sent an email to Alvarado, to ask questions about Derwick's true intentions with Pacific, its associations with Argentinean thugs,  and so on. Let's hope he replies...

4.6.15

Robert Hanson shows how to vanish Venezuela's largest newspaper conglomerate from books

Here's the background. In short, a London socialite called Robert Hanson (pictured), son of Margaret Thatcher's "favourite tycoon", purportedly "bought" in late 2013 Cadena Capriles, Venezuela's largest newspaper conglomerate.

The operation was, of course, a sham intended to hide Cadena Capriles ultimate controlling party. Through special purpose vehicles created solely to keep chavista names hidden from view, Hanson set up a shell in Curaçao called Latam Media Holding N.V., dispatched to Caracas his associate Patrick Teroerde, who "paid" over 90 million USD, and got hold, along with chavista banker Victor Vargas of Banco Occidental de Descuento, of Cadena Capriles. The Curaçao shell is managed by TMF Curaçao N.V. although Venezuelan reports claimed that London-based Hanson Asset Management (HAM) owned Latam Media Holding.  HAM returns are freely available in Companies House beta website.

There are some interesting bits in Hanson Asset Management accounts made up to 31 March 2014. For instance this:


Could Hanson Holdings Lux SARL have been used to purchase Cadena Capriles, to then be given to somebody else for a profit of £3,611? We'll have to check Luxembourg's records...

But then, there's this other bit:


Net assets amounting to £1,437,409 at 31 March 2014? So if Cadena Capriles is not hidden in Luxembourg (a jurisdiction favoured by media-loving chavistas), where is it?

Hanson Investment Holdings Limited, interestingly incorporated in December 2013, has not filed accounts as yet. Teroerde has got one share in it and Hanson Capital Limited -with a declared capital of £50,000- has another.

What happened then to that asset bought in Venezuela for over 90 million USD? A look into the purchase of Spanish magazine Cambio16 exposed a few dodgy connections between high ranking chavistas, boligarchs, PDVSA, Bell Pottinger and French investment firm Lazard. Both Lazard and Hanson are acquainted with Bell Pottinger, and all three have been engaged in illegal deals in Venezuela recently. While no investigation in a country described as a narcostate will flush out Hanson's partners, UK authorities should perhaps follow the American example and launch proper investigations into massive corruption rackets taking place in London. For one thing is to front for Venezuelan white collar thugs, but for drug dealers? Quite another...

19.5.15

#carae'piñadiosdado


Not everyday the WSJ graces its front page with news about TQNLQNSPM* stock, though surprisingly it did yesterday. Jose De Córdoba and Juan Forero brought it home with an extensive account on how several U.S. Federal Agencies, including the DEA, are basically closing in on Diosdado Cabello (pictured sporting a chic red beret), for turning the country into a narco-state. As one of Venezuela's foremost authorities on corruption, I am glad that a major U.S. news outlet finally exposed what's been vox populi for quite some time now.

Those who haven't been paying attention will find the piece interesting, specially claims from authoritative sources about Cabello's role in the Sun's Cartel (Cartel de los Soles: so named for it is run by Venezuela's top brass, i.e. those who have suns insignia in their epaulettes):
A leading target, according to a Justice Department official and other American authorities, is National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello, considered the country’s second most-powerful man. “There is extensive evidence to justify that he is one of the heads, if not the head, of the cartel,” said the Justice Department official, speaking of a group of military officers and top officials suspected of being involved in the drug trade. “He certainly is a main target.”
De Córdoba and Forero cite a "Justice Department Official" who said that Venezuela is run by a "criminal organization". That much we also knew. Some key figures were left out however. No mention to Ramon Rodríguez Chacín, or Antonio José Morales Rodríguez (aka "el catre"), who, according to exiled Supreme Court Justice Eladio Aponte Aponte, called him to order the release of Pedro Maggino (from 21:18 in video). The archive comes handy:
"... a trusted reader informs us that Majed Khalil is the bagman of General Francisco Rangel Gomez, former president of aluminium and mining giant Corporacion Venezolana de Guayana (CVG), current Governor of Bolivar state. Hence his deals with CVG. Majed Khalil is also a partner -and best man- of Lieutenant Antonio José Morales Rodríguez (aka "el catre"), godson and aide-de-camp of Hugo Chavez and one of his most trusted men. Morales is currently director of the office of the Secretary of Venezuela's Presidency. Morales has recently been fingered by former Supreme Court Judge Eladio Aponte Aponte as one of the men who ordered him to free an army drug trafficker (Pedro Maggino) caught with 2 tonnes of cocaine in Venezuela.
So it is not only Leamsy Salazar, Cabello's former bodyguard featured throughout, who's witnessed involvement in drug trafficking at the very highest levels, Chavez's very own is also ear-deep in it, despite Oliver Stone's willingness to take a drug trafficker at face value.



U.S. authorities could most certainly tap, at a moment's notice, on a vast network of Bolivarian thugs that have made the U.S. their playground. I'm thinking Francisco D'Agostino, Victor Vargas, Victor Gill, Roberto Rincón, José Zambrano, Rafael Sarria, Pedro Torres Ciliberto and his son Pedro Torres Picón, David Osío, Andrés Coles, Alejandro Andrade, Danilo Díaz Granados, Luis Oberto and his gang... Mind you there's no shortage of Venezuelans -whose ill gotten wealth came from deals with / sanctioned by Cabello- that could reveal the extent of his links to criminal activity. But then again, perhaps those mentioned, and then some, are part of the 56 Bolichoros whose visas have been withdrawn by the U.S. Government and are now singing in a desperate attempt to keep laundered proceeds.

Sources have told me that numerous federal investigations are taking place in New York, Florida, and Texas, where chavista "businessmen" tend to concentrate. Bolivarian "financiers" took to money laundering with such gusto that once public money started drying they thought "maybe we could lend our services to Diosdado's other businesses..."

It does take a while for Uncle Sam to get going, once it does though there aren't many places to hide. In the meanwhile, Cabello must be feeling a bit like Manuel "cara e' piña" Noriega. The U.S. is not about to send the Marines to Venezuela. Nowadays they count on Cuba's G2, Dilma, Juan Manuel Santos and Tom Shannon, to name a few, to do its bidding. Trouble for Cabello, a true TQNLQNSPM if there ever was one, is that outside his sphere of influence (dysfuntional and drug trafficking Venezuelan army) he's got no friends. He hates the Cubans. He has never been bothered with cultivating international allies. He has no charisma. No popular support. He's probably the most hated politico in Venezuela, and it is unlikely that FARC narcoterrorists are going to risk it for him.

Time will tell, of course. But before we see the end of this some spectacular fireworks are likely to take place.

*Tipo Que No Lo Quiere Ni Su Puta Madre.

1.5.15

Derwick Associates claims another victory against Otto Reich in NY bribery lawsuit

United States District Judge, J. Paul Oetken, dismissed former Western Hemisphere Affairs Secretary, Otto Reich, jurisdictional claims presented in a bribery lawsuit against Derwick Associates filed by the former diplomat in New York. In a stinging decision, Judge Oetken derides some of Reich's arguments about Derwick's executive Pedro Trebbau, stating:
Plaintiffs offer essentially the same set of facts in support of jurisdiction over Trebbau, with one important exception: Trebbau neither owns nor rents any real estate in New York at all. Instead, Plaintiffs contend, his New York residence is the home of his friend and banker, Eduardo Travieso. Plaintiffs argue that “given Defendants’ wealth and stature, it is simply implausible that they could maintain their extravagant lifestyles in Venezuela—a violent, third- world country beset by rampant blackouts, food shortages and gross poverty.” (Plaintiffs’ Memorandum of Law in Opposition to Betancourt’s and Trebbau’s Motions to Dismiss, at 10 [Plaintiffs’ Memorandum].) And yet Plaintiffs would have the Court believe that a man of Trebbau’s estimable “wealth and stature” permanently intends to crash on his friend’s couch. (bold added)
Judge Oetken's decision is a thing of beauty. It demonstrates, for one, that due process, when functioning as intended, is never encumbered with tangential stuff that has no direct bearing on the issue at hand, which is determining jurisdiction on the basis of facts presented in this particular instance.

Having property, bank accounts, mortgages, visiting, and spending money in a place does not amount, in Judge Oetken's view, to being domiciled in that place. Ed Miliband would disagree though. So while Alejandro Betancourt -Derwick's CEO / $PRE.to third largest shareholder- admits to have just 35% of his total net worth in New York -Reich claims Betancourt keeps $68 million in NY banks- he is not domiciled in New York, and therefore New York courts have no jurisdiction over his affairs, as pertaining to bribery claims against Derwick Associates in the context of this lawsuit.

Reich basically failed to demonstrate that Betancourt and Trebbau were domiciled in New York. That's what it came down to. The lawsuit never got to the juicy part: bribery allegations that could have shed light on the manner in which Derwick got over a billion dollars in 12 no-bid contracts from the Venezuelan State.

In the meantime, US Federal Agencies and the Manhattan District Attorney's Office continue probing Derwick and its commercial activities. I have been told that there's a particular interest in exploring connections to Diosdado Cabello, who appears to have become target no 1 for US law enforcement interested in Venezuela.

29.4.15

Derwick CEO Alejandro Betancourt acquires 10.29% of Pacific Rubiales

Background from Reuters.
Update: Bloomberg sort of confirms what I exposed, but lacks the integrity of describing Derwick's CFO (Orlando Alvarado) as Derwick CFO, claiming instead that Alvarado and his "partner" (boss Betancourt) are "private-sector businessmen with no ties to the government and prefer to remain anonymous"...