31 October 2017

Meet Steve Levine Fusion GPS apologist

Meet Steve Levine, according to Axios.com "eager to hear from you at steve@axios.com."

Not so eager though, when it comes to explaining the kind of work his mates at Fusion GPS have done in Venezuela. In a recent article, LeVine paints a rosy picture of Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch, two of the three 'reporters' con artists behind bespoke, and highly lucrative, smear campaigns.

It was this bit of LeVine's hagiography about Fusion GPS that caught my attention:

"They are seriously savvy at finding extremely hard-to-locate — and even more difficult to understand and contextualize — documents and other intelligence on globally powerful people and organizations."

Seriously savy people know that Venezuela is, easily, America's most corrupt country. Seriously savy people know who Hugo Chavez is, and who his succesor (Nicolas Maduro) is. Seriously savy people know the kind of mess Venezuela is in as a result of chavismo's policies. Seriously savy people also know that in Venezuela millions of dollars worth of procurement contracts are, as a matter of course, granted to whoever offers contracting bodies the biggest bribe.

Seriouly savy people, those who know how to use PACER, also know this thing called Google. It is, for seriously, and not so seriously, savy people, the first port of call nowadays when it comes to establishing bona fides.

So what to say about involvement of LeVine's "seriously savy" Fusion GPS friends with Venezuela's Derwick Associates? Mind you, when Fusion GPS started working for Derwick, a simple Google search would have returned results about rampant corruption related to a multibillion dollar swindle in procurement of power plants in Venezuela.

So I confronted LeVine's cretinous arguments on Twitter, to which he replied "Link to evidence that Fusion carried out what you describe."

I must pause here, and explain the evidence I provided. Fusion's Peter Fritsch travelled to Caracas, in July 2014, with Adam Kaufmann. The purpose of the trip was to block further reporting from the Wall Street Journal into Derwick's corruption in Venezuela.

I was told by sources present at the Caracas meeting that Derwick, assisted by Fritsch and Kaufmann, spent an inordinate amount of time smearing me, and my work. Why my work? Because of my investigations into Derwick Associates.

When they could a word in, Derwick Associates were asked by Wall Street Journal reporters whether they would go on record with their allegations against me. Derwick refused. Derwick execs were also asked to provide official evidence proving procurement contracts granted resulted after open, fair and competitive bidding. Derwick failed to do so. It failed then, in July 2014, and it has done ever since whenever questions about their corrupt ways are asked. Since that encounter in Caracas, I have published official evidence of corruption in procurement contracts granted to Derwick.

My apartment, in London, was broken into in November 2014. Coincidence? Fusion GPS knew the kind of information I had about them in August 2014:
From: Thomas Catan <tcatan@fusiongps.com>
Subject: Re: Peter Fritsch
Date: 26 August 2014 at 14:30:31 BST
To: alek boyd <alek.boyd@gmail.com>

This is really creepy, Alek. You conducting surveillance these days or wtf?

On Aug 26, 2014, at 8:25 AM, Alek Boyd <alek.boyd@gmail.com> wrote:

Hi Tom,

further to my recent email about possible work that your company could be doing in Venezuela, have a look below at what I have just received. It would be a surprise that a colleague of yours is working for the type of thugs I have been exposing for many years now, and I would hate to think that you were economical with the truth with me about your company's involvement with such people, to the point of denying involvement.

As you know very well, I have been chronicling chavismo for nearly 12 years now. You know me, you know what I stand for. You also know well that there are no secrets in Venezuela and that in the last decade or so I have developed an extensive network of contacts that keep me up to speed on things. I had heard from different people that Derwick Associates had hired your company for some sort of white wash operation. And now I have gotten evidence that places Peter Fritsch in Caracas just over a month ago.

Needless to say to I am planning to expose this, as I did previously when Al Cardenas and FTI were hired to cleanse the bolichicos "reputation" (perhaps you guys should ask Cardenas how did it go for him). I have already found some rather interesting reports about Glen Simpson, your CEO, that will make for very interesting reading when linked to chavistas.

I would appreciate your frankness in this respect. As I understand, you're a senior partner there and the firm is not that big.

Best,
Alek
Corrupt operatives involved in Derwick's schemes were arrested last week in Spain on U.S. arrest warrants. Furthermore, I happen to have evidence that links Derwick directly with one of the arrested.


 When I confronted LeVine with Fritsch's trip to Caracas he blocked me on Twitter. That's OK. But his reputation, as that of the thugs he apologises for, will suffer for it. I had a number of further questions for LeVine in store, given that he claims ignorance on how much Fusion GPS charges for their 'work'. Fritsch, for instance, purchased a $2.3 million house in 2016. His partner, Tom Catan, paid in full a $508,000 mortgage on his residence in 2015, and purchased another house, in Lusby, in 2017 for $660,500. Simpson in turn, took a $500,000 mortgage on his house in 2014. Evidently smearing investigative journalists and human rights defenders is a lucrative business.

Fusion GPS' Fritsch record of stay in Caracas, July 2014.

LeVine won't be explaining Fritsch's trip to Caracas or Fusion GPS' involvement with Venezuelan criminals in Georgetown University anytime soon. Flat earth syndrome...

LeVine, though, is a fine example of what's rotten with today's mediocre journalism. "Seriously savy" folks, incapable of exercising a modicum of critical thinking, incapable of running cursory due diligence, unwilling to check claims before risking reputations. These are not "extremely" able professionals uniquely equipped to "understand and contextualize... hard to locate" information. These are wholy amoral people driven by money. It is unthinkable that these "seriously savy" fellows did not know what they were getting into when they decided to service the likes of Derwick Associates. I know Catan, personally. He never struck me as an idiot.

In the criminal underworld, what Fusion GPS has done is called swatting. Fusion GPS basically took money from the Democrats to produce fiction that was then shopped to all and sundry with the intention of criminalising, or swatting, Donald Trump. The FBI, also "seriously savy" I suppose, decided to swallow the whole thing, as did other equally clever folks up and down the American government. No one checked. No one scrutinised sources, nor was the 'intel' questioned. But that's not LeVine you see. He vouches for Fusion GPS 'reporters'. Also a 'reporter', and a 'professor,' LeVine thinks he is equally infallible.

Justice Departments in the U.S., Spain, Andorra, and Switzerland are closing in on Derwick. Facilitators of their corruption are already behind bars. Officials that approved payments of hundreds of millions of dollars to Derwick have already been indicted and have pleaded guilty. Unless they move to Venezuela, or to Russia, is going to be difficult for Fusion GPS to come out of this unscathed.

28 July 2017

Fusion GPS a victim?

"What is clear is that the president and his allies are desperately trying to smear Fusion GPS..."

So these thugs are the victims now, aren't they?

How curious, isn't it, that Fusion GPS would basically resort to the same strategy (victimhood) of its utterly corrupt Venezuelan client (Derwick Associates) when their inexcusable business practises come to light?

When I started reporting about Derwick Associates' corruption nearly five years ago, Donald Trump was a mere American citizen spewing bile about Barack Obama, and Derwick was a totally obscure and unknown shell company.

Between 2012 and Trump's election in 2016, I wrote a great deal about Derwick. In August 2014, I exposed Fusion GPS connections to Derwick. Fusion GPS' involvement with the worst scum of chavista Venezuela happened exactly along the lines of their involvement with the Trump dossier. In their words "it is a matter of public record that Fusion GPS worked for and under the supervision of an American law firm providing support for civil litigation in New York."

Indeed, Fusion GPS' founder Peter Fritsch flew to Caracas in July 2014 with Adam Kaufmann, former New York's District Attorney Chief Prosecutor, also in Derwick's employ. The civil litigation Fusion GPS and Kaufmann were involved in was a lawsuit against Derwick initiated by Otto Reich, former Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs. Derwick, lawyered up to their eyeballs, managed to have the case thrown out for lack of jurisdiction, despite having subcontracted all the work to an American company, despite having used American stream of commerce, banks and currency to carry out their corrupt enterprise, despite having used American courts to falsely prosecute perceived critics, and despite having assets worth millions of dollars in America.

Derwick, and its American employees "pulled out all the stops, including... false allegation[s]" to derail Reich's RICO case against Derwick.

The false allegations fabricated by Derwick / Fusion GPS had nothing to do with Russia, or Trump. It was about me. It was about my family. Given that most of the stuff posted in the public domain about their corruption was done by me, it was about their belief that I was instrumental in "bringing disrepute" to their otherwise very kosher company. It was about their sheer conviction, that I was a "hired pen", in the employ of a Venezuelan banker, to tarnish their "hard earned" reputation.

Derwick / Fusion GPS' strategy was to completely destroy my credibility. Derwick / Fusion GPS tried to do so by producing fake warrants, in which I was accused of committing a crime that's not even part of Venezuela's Penal Code ("Tráfico de Estufepacientes"). So inept, not even the spelling was right.

Derwick / Fusion GPS then resurrected my mother: having died of cancer, in 1983, in a Basque town, she was placed "in charge" of a drug trafficking ring in 2006 with operations in Venezuela, the USA and Spain. Fake ID numbers, migration logs and pictures were posted online linking me to my mother's alleged cartel.

Derwick / Fusion GPS "accused" me of being a homosexual, irresponsibly spreading AIDS in Caracas.

Derwick / Fusion GPS then invented that I was a partner of a Colombian narco terrorist organization (FARC). One of FARC top commanders even "complained" about me, for an alleged theft of some "500 kilos of cocaine".

Allegedly I am also a "car thief" and an "extortionist".

My sister's Spanish passport details were posted online during this smearing campaign. My sister's "love affair with Hugo Chavez" was "exposed" on one of the websites.

I was "accused" of being a pedophile. A fake Spanish Police report was posted online as "evidence". My father's second wife was also accused of being a pedophile.

Derwick / Fusion GPS creativity did not stop there: as part of my alleged "drug trafficking operation" I was involved in "submarine constructions", to carry the cocaine to international markets. I was "presented" as an associate of known drug traffickers (some of them killed) from Colombia and Venezuela.

And then, three thugs broke into my flat, in London.

Pictures of my daughters, obtained through illegal surveillance ops that lasted months in the city of London, were posted online. Some of them were modified -with photoshop- carried out in Caracas and in India.

Hand written threats of sexual abuse against my daughters were sent to me via recorded delivery from Tbilisi.

Details of my home address and telephone number were posted online.

Notorious member of Venezuela's "democratic opposition" Henry Ramos Allup, was enlisted in the smearing campaign.

My blogs and websites were censored in Venezuela, despite the fact that I publish nearly everything in English.

The above was spread online in English, Spanish, French and Italian, through dozens of anonymous blogs, social media profiles, and websites operated in jurisdictions where the rule of law is non existent. To their eternal shame, some American based platforms, like Wordpress, Ripoff Report, Tumblr, and Blogger refused to remove fake information / illegaly obtained photographs about me and my family.

While the above was taking place in the public domain, Fusion GPS was busy "briefing" reputed news outlets / journalists against considering any of my documented investigations into Derwick Associates rampant corruption. I used to collaborate -for free- with Spain's El País, whose America editor Hector Schamis refused publication of news of break into my apartment, and decided right after it to sever any further collaborations. Schamis participates in panel talks with Fusion GPS' Tom Catan's wife, just a coincidence I'm sure.

Derwick, as Fusion GPS claims for itself now, was a "victim" of a "family feud". All of Derwick's procurement contracts -which netted them nearly one billion dollars- were done "legitimately, above board, and were the product of open bidding processes".

Derwick / Fusion GPS promised the WSJ official evidence to prove legitimate origin of their contracts, which they have failed to do to this day.
Derwick is being probed by the Southern District of New York and several federal agencies. Crucially, criminal actors involved in exactly the same modus operandi employed by Derwick, with the same Venezuelan institutions and corrupt officials and at the same time, have been found guilty of FCPA violations and charged. Is this a case of some criminals being more equal than others?

Derwick is being investigated in Spain.

Derwick is being investigated in Andorra, whose prosecutors have sent legal assistance requests to French counterparts.

Derwick's lawyers are fighting a request for information and legal assistance sent by the Justice Department to Switzerland, which will reveal money movements in dozens of Swiss banks.

The mother of one of Derwick's top execs (Francisco Convit) has had nearly a million dollars seized in Italy, upon beliefs of involvement in money laundering.

Francisco Convit claims to have a personal net worth of over $200 million (2013).

Alejandro Betancourt claims to have a personal net worth of over $600 million (2013).

Officials behind granting of contracts to Derwick are under investigation in Spain and Andorra.

Any rational person would conclude that a freelance, independent blogger with a very limited audience, does not have the capacity to trigger all those criminal investigations in mentioned jurisdictions.

But what of Fusion GPS' client relations? Their Venezuelan clients happen to also be in business with Gazprom, a sanctioned Russian State-owned entity that has -as all others- a Putin stench. Just who goes into business with Putin these days? Just who goes into business with Venezuelan 'entrepreneurs' these days?

Considering the state of chavista Venezuela, how could anyone believe that shells like Derwick have made billions legitimately? More to the point, how can anyone service and profit from the likes of Derwick, in view of the near absolute destitution they've left behind?

Considering that before 2009 Derwick did not even exist, who makes that kind of money in little over three years in a place like Venezuela?

None of these questions were ever part of Fusion GPS considerations. They were employed to smear, to seed sufficient doubt among journalists, politicians interested in Venezuela, to completely annihilate any form of genuine criticism toward public expenditure. Their faithful association with the likes of Derwick speaks volumes about the kind of outfit they run, basically, apologists and spin doctors for criminals.

And this has nothing to do with Trump. Or with the Democrats. Fusion GPS' amorality predates Trump by many years. They are -as all others- swamp creatures. In their extremely deluded worldview, they claim victimhood now, not realising that extreme political antagonism between Republicans and Democrats is fueled in large part by their own actions.

9 June 2017

Victor Sierra, Torino Capital y la nueva Venezuela

Van muchos muertos. Muchos heridos. Sufrimiento generalizado. Protestas. La vida de la sociedad venezolana, en lo que a las grandes ciudades respecta, está en perenne caos. La anarquía impera. Y el peligro de ese rio revuelto, es que hay mucho espabilao negociando posiciones, tratando de insertarse, de colearse por la puerta trasera. Mientras nuestros jóvenes pierden la vida a razón de uno por día, los operadores de oficio continúan en lo suyo, tratando de oxigenar al chavismo, de "negociar una salida". Me refiero, por supuesto, a quienes contemplan la Constituyente como solución, a quienes quieren dar garantías a los criminales que han destruído Venezuela. Me refiero, particularmente, a Victor Sierra, a Torino Capital, a Francisco Rodriguez, y a la posibilidad, real, de que ese tipo de individuos tengan roles preponderantes en la nueva Venezuela.

Hace apenas unos días, se conoció el guiso de Dinosaur Group y Goldman Sachs, comprando bonos de deuda venezolana por un valor mucho menor al actual. Muchos expresaron su repudio ante tal guiso. Comenté entonces que la arrechera no debía, en mi opinión, ser dirigida a Goldman Sachs, sino a los venezolanos que se prestan, permiten y colaboran en tales guisos. Victor Sierra, de Torino Capital, se sintió aludido por mi comentario y me contactó para explicarme, off the record, que ni él ni su firma tienen nada que ver en dichas actividades. Me dijo que ni él ni su firma han hecho un negocio con PDVSA o Venezuela. En su mensaje, afirmó que auditorías a su firma han "salido... con 5 estrellas...". Luego equiparó su trabajo con el de los bancos y fondos "más grandes del mundo", intento excusar actos criminales, y mintió descaradamente sobre su trabajo y empleados.

Por insistencia suya prometí que nuestro intercambio iba a ser "off the record", mas como mi primera lealtad, como venezolano, es para con mi país, estimo necesario publicar aqui mi intercambio con Sierra. Es crucial que la sociedad venezolana sepa cómo piensa esta gente, cómo argumenta, racionaliza y excusa sus actos. Pero, sobre todo, es imperante exponer el profundo desprecio que sienten hacia quien quiera que los cuestiona. Convencidos están de su infalibilidad. 

El tiempo que me tomo escribir Torino Capital FINRA en Google, bastó para chequear si las actividades de Torino son "5 estrellas"... En cuanto al resto de sus argumentos, mejor leen el intercambio, comenzando desde abajo:

Begin forwarded message:
From: alek boyd <alek.boyd@gmail.com>
Subject: Re: Saludo
Date: 8 June 2017 14:15:12 BST
To: Victor Sierra <victorsierrab@yahoo.com>
Gracias por tomarte el tiempo de responder Victor.
Uno de los grandes males de nuestro tiempo, es la pretensión que la responsabilidad -sea personal, colectiva o en cualquiera otra forma- puede evadirse con el argumento de la complejidad. Todos los herederos de un patriarca tienen los mismos derechos ante la ley, aquí y en China, salvo que exista un testamento que defina los derechos específicos de cada individuo en cuestión, o haya mediado en vida algún tipo de arreglo entre las partes (como en este caso). No obstante, los hechos demuestran que dos de los herederos legales del patrimonio de Capriles Ayala fueron ilegalmente despojados de su parte, en abierta colusión entre una parte de la familia, abogados y cortes. Como es natural por lazos consanguíneos, tu vas a defender hasta el ultimo de tus días las acciones de tu padre. Desde mi punto de vista, tu padre es un hampón, el Michu otro, y todos los que de alguna manera coadyuvaron con la consecución del robo multimillonario a los Capriles Cannizaro pertenecen a la misma ralea. Esa colectividad de gente amoral es la que, ultimadamente, ha causado que Venezuela esté en la penosa situación en la que está.
For the record, he enviado solicitudes de comentarios a Michu en el pasado, pero nunca ha enviado respuesta.
Pero, insisto, los hijos no deben ser culpados de las acciones de los padres, a menos que, consciente y activamente, en edad legal y plena facultad de condiciones, hayan participado en dicho accionar. No creo que ese haya sido tu caso, y por ello mi disposición en éste intercambio.
Pasando a tus aclaratorias, debo decir que encuentro tus argumentos inadmisibles.
Por lo único que se conoce tu firma, es por su defensa de la capacidad de pago del regimen chavista. Una y otra vez, en cada oportunidad y foro, publica y privadamente, no se conoce un argumento de ustedes que indique una posición balanceada, o dicho de otro modo, de Torino no se conoce otra cosa que la afirmación de que invertir en el chavismo es buen negocio. Si ésta conversación fuese entre chinos, rusos, ingleses o austriacos, pues uno podría obviar, como es el caso, el aspecto moral de tal actitud. Pero tu eres venezolano, Rodriguez es venezolano, y ambos derivan ingreso y ganancias de lo que considero una forma de apología del chavismo. Ustedes han demostrado una capacidad despreciable de poder abstraerse del drama y la miseria que el chavismo ha impuesto en Venezuela, con el objetivo de lucrarse transando instrumentos financieros. Que los transan en el mercado secundario? Que llevan inversionistas a Venezuela, o les acomodan reuniones, conferencias, etc., con el oficialismo y la oposición? Tu de verdad crees que ello te exime de crítica? Tus clientes, esos que pagan por los servicios de Torino, no terminan también transando en los mercados instrumentos financieros emitidos por instituciones chavistas y embolsillándose los dividendos producidos por tales instrumentos? Te has preguntado, alguna vez, a quién beneficia eso, aparte de a los inversionistas y a quien recibe comisiones por dichas transacciones?
Desde luego que a mi no me beneficia. A mi familia tampoco. A los que mueren de mengua y escarban la basura, a los que tienen que hacer cola para comprar comida de quinta categoría, tu trabajo no los beneficia, en lo absoluto. El referirse a lo que hacen todos bancos del mundo tampoco es escudo. El mundo ya conoce lo que hacen los bancos. El privatizar las ganancias pero socializar las perdidas es archiconocido, y sus consecuencias se han sentido en todos los rincones del planeta. El derivar un beneficio, sea de primera, segunda o quinta mano, de una emisión hecha con la corrupción como único propósito, te hace partícipe de la misma. El problema es que ustedes no lo hacen de forma sigilosa, no. Lo cacarean a los cuatro vientos. Se vanaglorian de su acceso, de ser citados en prensa, de que sus opiniones sean consideradas. Sin la deuda venezolana, es muy probable que Francisco Rodriguez fuese un personaje totalmente desconocido, un economista de esos sin pena ni gloria que pululan por el mundo pretendiendo ser relevantes. Tu firma no produciría muchos dividendos, pues en el mercado financiero internacional donde hay que competir con tiburones estilo GS, JP Morgan, etc., un tarantín de tres desconocidos cuya experiencia se reduce, casi exclusivamente, a una república bananera como Venezuela, probablemente no tendría mucha longevidad como negocio rentable.
Dices que la relación de tu firma con el chavismo es la misma que con la oposición. Fíjate, por ejemplo, que yo jamás he logrado que un servidor publico chavista responda mis solicitudes de información. Será por que mi padre no se echaba palos con miembros del Cartel de Damasco? Será por que no fui chavista, como Rodriguez? Desde luego que el hombre puede, y tiene el derecho de, tener sus opiniones por muy nauseabundas que sean. Pero tu argumento, que cuando él habla sobre la capacidad de pago del chavismo, lo hace a título personal, y no en representación de Torino, es risible, aparte de falso. Tu argumento, de que debido a su “posición muy senior” en Torino, básicamente actúa sin supervisión y con plena libertad, es ridícula. Empleado es empleado, senior o no.
En suma Victor, reitero mi agradecimiento por tu aclaratoria. La guardaré por el resto de mis días como ejemplo de la amoralidad que prevalece en la sociedad de cómplices venezolana.
Atentamente,
Alek Boyd
On 6 Jun 2017, at 21:16, Victor Sierra <victorsierrab@yahoo.com> wrote:
Hola Alek,
Gracias por tu respuesta. Continuemos nuestra conversación off the record y privada.
Mi padre fue mano derecha y abogado de la Cadena Capriles por más de 30 años. Mi padre actuó como asesor legal de una de las partes como bien sabes durante el proceso de litigio de la fortuna. En este tema difiero de tu opinión y pienso es un tema más complejo del que describes pero como tú mismo lo dices yo no estuve involucrado y estuve 100% desligado de todo este proceso. No estaba en Venezuela (estoy en estados unidos viviendo desde el año 1994). Tengo 23 años en la Banca siempre en New York y todo lo que tengo me lo he ganado con duro trabajo.
Si te comento que mi papa me dijo que él se envolvió en este debacle porque quería que los dos lados se beneficiaran justamente. Al principio los Capriles Canizaro tenían el upperhand. Es una historia compleja y lo mejor es que obtengas las dos versiones antes del veredicto. Yo mismo no tengo respuestas porque no estuve envuelto. También recuerda que mi padre se desligo de este proceso desde el año 1998 y la mayoría de las decisiones que se fueron tomando a partir de esta fecha se hicieron sin él y entre los herederos. La pelea continuo desde ese punto por más de 14 años. Si te comento que después de esta fecha (1998) mi papa no tuvo nada más que ver con este caso.
 No dispares al mensajero pero cheque a Michu por ti y me dice que no ha sabido de ningún intento de tu lado de oír su parte de la Historia. Si es algo que te interesa le puedo decir pero a pesar de que Michu es cercano y le tengo aprecio tanto a él como a Miguelito porque me crie con ellos te puedo decir que él no me considera un amigo por el hecho que me fui muy joven y no hubo tiempo de relacionarnos a ese nivel.
Respondo a tus comentarios que me pertenecen. Me parece que no me explique bien cuando te dije que no he hecho un solo negocio con Venezuela o PDVSA. Cuando digo esto me refiero a una operación financiera directamente con ellos. Queriendo decir alguna operación de Banca de Inversión o de compra y venta de bonos con ellos. En estas operaciones puedes ayudar al país o PDVSA a financiarse directamente a través de emisiones de bono, prestamos, canje, trading etc. A eso le llamamos hacer negocio en nuestra industria.
Que si opero deuda internacional Venezolana y de PDVSA en los mercados extranjeros (deuda externa) si claro hace más de 23 años que lo hago desde las multinacionales más grandes del planeta en su momento. Al igual que opero Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Rusia, Asia, Europa, etc. A esto no se le llama hacer negocio con el país. Esto es trading en los mercados internacionales. Alguna de esta deuda esta emitida durante la cuarta república y otra durante la quinta. Esto lo hacen todas las instituciones financieras del mundo y lo continúan haciendo. Te hablo de todos los Bancos más grandes del Mundo, los fondos más grandes del mundo etc. Compañías como por ejemplo JP Morgan, HSBC, BOFA Merrill, DB, Wells Fargo, Citibank, PIMCO, Black Rock, etc. Esta deuda ya está emitida queriendo decir que al comprarla o venderla no estas financiando al País. El país no recibe beneficio directo de financiamiento con estas operaciones. Estos bonos fueron emitidos hace tiempo y el financiamiento ya tuvo lugar en su momento. El caso de Goldman fue diferente ya que los bonos estaban en las manos del gobierno. Los bonos que yo opero están en el mercado internacional y en manos de inversionistas internacionales en mercado secundario.
El caso de que los inversionistas aquí afuera quieren que Venezuela siga pagando no es correcto. Unos si quieren que pague y otros quieren el default. Te explico esto si te interesa en otro mensaje.
Mis inversionistas son principalmente americanos. Te cuento más sobre esto. Como todos los Bancos de Inversión / Broker dealers llevamos a inversionistas a Venezuela y tenemos reuniones con ellos sobre Venezuela. La razón que ellos buscan nuestros servicios principalmente es para saber la situación del País. Quieren saber la situación de País para tomar decisiones si vender o comprar deuda existente Venezolana en los mercados internacionales. Si puede existir interés bajo las condiciones apropiadas de prestar al país pero como te dije al principio no hemos hecho ni una sola transacción de este tipo. No hemos financiado a PDVSA o Venezuela en la historia de la firma. Todos los bancos internacionales incluyéndonos estaríamos dispuestos a financiar a Venezuela/PDVSA bajo las condiciones adecuadas pero estamos claros que ahora no es el momento. Donde sí habría disposición es en operaciones externas de mercado secundario u operaciones bajo préstamos existentes que no sean nuevo financiamiento sino re venta o re alocación.
Hablas de comisiones. El mercado de deuda soberana internacional funciona igual que el mercado de acciones de cualquier país. Hay un centro de ejecución con precios donde se opera la deuda y todas nuestras instituciones ganan la comisión entre la compra y la venta internacional. Esto es la práctica del todas las instituciones financieras con todos los países del mundo y es un mercado donde Venezuela/PDVSA no tienen beneficio. Hay bonos de Irak, Irán, China, Rusia, Afganistán, Bolivia y todos los países del mundo operando como deuda externa.
Hablemos de relaciones de Torino con el Chavismo. La relación de Torino con el Chavismo son las mismas que con la oposición, es una relación informativa. Que significa informativa, quiero decir que los inversionistas internacionales están buscando información de la situación del país. Esta información la dan los dos sectores no solo un lado. Con esta información ellos toman decisiones de inversión en el mercado secundario o primario si existe una oportunidad bajo las condiciones adecuadas. Esto es nuestro trabajo y es el mismo de todos los bancos que están envueltos en mercados emergentes que son muchos como JPM, HSBC, Barclays, Citi, etc. Con este análisis informativo, Torino también hace reportes analíticos.
Hablemos de Francisco Rodriguez. La función de Francisco dentro de Torino es facilitar la información a través de un proceso de investigación y comunicarse y conversar con los inversionistas aquí afuera. Así que sus relaciones de los dos lados son parte de su trabajo. Por su posición muy senior dentro de la empresa está encargado y es responsable de lo que escribe y por eso decimos que lo que el escribe y su equipo no representa la opinión de la empresa necesariamente. Esto es así en todos Bancos. Si me pongo a revisarle todo lo que escribe y decirle que escribir el hombre me renuncia. Él es suficientemente senior y está encargado de las decisiones dentro de su departamento de investigación. Así que sus relaciones en su gran mayoría son parte de su trabajo. Por ejemplo para ser justo, el último evento que organizamos en New York sobre Venezuela era solo miembros de la oposición los invitados. Ahora bien, Francisco tienes sus tendencias y creencias del proceso político y económico en Venezuela a nivel personal. Esto es algo que esta fuera de mi jurisdicción como pienso estarías de acuerdo. Su posición personal es algo para hablarlo directamente con él.
Torino jamás ha donado a la campana de ningún político en Venezuela o en cualquier otra parte ya que está prohibido por los organismos regulatorios.
 Espero esto ayude a aclarar algunos de tus puntos y déjame saber si necesitas más información de este u otro tipo.
Abrazo
Victor
On Thursday, June 1, 2017 1:26 PM, alek boyd <alek.boyd@gmail.com> wrote:
Hola Victor,
empecemos por el principio, que fue tu email inicial en Octubre de 2013.
Mi conocimiento del rol de tu padre en el manejo, gerencia y consecución de apropiación final ilegal del control absoluto de la Cadena Capriles es, debo admitir, subjetiva. Sólo he escuchado a una parte. Mis intentos de conocer la otra parte de la historia, es decir la de Michu, ha sido infructuosa. No obstante, de lo que he sido informado, y he podido corroborar, es que el Michu, con la ayuda de tu padre, básicamente se robó cientos de millones de dólares, no sólo del patrimonio de su hermanastro y madrastra -cuya existencia ni siquiera mencionaste en tu email, sino de su propia madre y hermanas. Sin duda, uno de los mayores casos de corrupción de la historia de Venezuela que he estudiado, en el cual tu padre tuvo un rol crucial.
Pero esa historia no viene al caso, y uno nunca debe culpar a los hijos por las acciones de los padres. Hice mención a tu persona, y a tu empleado Francisco Rodriguez en mi pequeño escrito sobre Goldman Sachs, por cuanto tengo entendido que el caballito de batalla de Torino Capital, el producto que lo mantiene a flote, es, precisamente, la deuda venezolana, o mejor dicho, la asesoría sobre la deuda venezolana por la cual los clientes de Torino están dispuestos a pagar comisiones.
Desde mi punto de vista, hablar bondades del narco régimen chavista -lease aseverar hasta la saciedad su capacidad de pago, que es finalmente lo que Torino hace en lo que respecta a Venezuela, es inadmisible, pues comporta un beneficio económico que resulta de convencer a los inversores de las ventajas de invertir en el chavismo. Encuentro, por tanto, inverosímil tu argumento “Ni yo ni Torino hemos hecho un solo negocio con Venezuela o PDVSA…” De hecho es un insulto a mi inteligencia que digas tal cosa, habida cuenta de la relación -digamos peculiar- que Torino tiene con el chavismo, y que ha sido reportada públicamente no necesariamente en cadenitas de WhatsApp, como uno de los apólogos de Rodriguez afirmara públicamente.
Así las cosas Victor, te invito a que me saques de lo que consideras mi posición errada. El no tener “cuentas de un solo politico venezolano” no exime de oprobio las notorias actuaciones de tu firma y de tus empleados, en lo que considero la perpetuación de la miseria en nuestro país.
Coloco al final de esta respuesta tu mensaje íntegro a través de FB messenger. Siéntete con plena libertad de aclarar cuanto desees, cuan extenso lo consideres, ya que no tengo pensado viajar a Nueva York en el futuro inmediato.
"Hola Alek, te quiero decir algo "off the record". Vi que me mencionaste en tu artículo de Goldman como banquero que hace negocios sin escrúpulos en Venezuela. Eso no puede estar más fuera de la verdad. Aplaudo tu coraje y te lo dije hace varios años atrás en un email personal pero para hacer justicia hay que ser justo y tener pruebas antes de exponer la reputación de una persona. Ni yo ni Torino hemos hecho un solo negocio con Venezuela o PDVSA de ningún tipo,eso son calumnias de grupos de interés. No tenemos cuentas de un solo político venezolano o de cualquier otro en el mundo ni estamos bajo ningún tipo de investigación. Somos altamente regulados por el SEC y FINRA y como parte de ese proceso nos han aauditado varias veces como lo hacen con todos los Bancos de Inversión en Estados Unidos y hemos salido de la auditoría con 5 estrellas. Nuestro negocio es principalmente con empresas norteamericanas. Te invito a almorzar y a que pases por nuestras oficinas y te explico bien nuestro negocio a detalle y con toda la transparencia si pasas por Nueva York. Somos un equipo integró de veteranos de Wall Street de todas las nacionalidades pero principalmente en su mayoría norteamericanos.
Tengo la mayoría de mi vida viviendo en los Estados Unidos que son ya 30 años. Nunca e trabajado en otro lugar que no sea en Nueva York y tengo una integra carrera en la industria en los Bancos más grades multinacionales. Ya son 23 años en la Banca.
Te invito a que me llames cuando necesites cualquier aclaratoria y en confianza. Mi número de Oficina es 212-661-2400 y también me puedes escribir a mi email personal victorsierrab@yahoo.com.
Voy más haya de lo que te escribo en decirte que puedo jurar sobre una Biblia que en mi carrera no me he robado un centavo ni enriquecido ilegítimamente. Decirte esto me llena de satisfacción porque mis amigos y mi familia conocen mis valores y principios y tengo mi conciencia limpia.
Si buscas justicia y eres amigo de la verdad deberíamos ser aliados y no enemigos. Yo como tú aborrezco a los corruptos.
Saludo! V”
————————————
Saludos,
Alek
On 22 Oct 2013, at 18:39, Victor Sierra <victorsierrab@yahoo.com> wrote:
Hola Alex,
Estuve la semana pasada con Miguel Octavio pasando unos días de vacación y me hablo de ti. Justo también me hablaron de tu página una amistad hace poco. Te escribo para felicitarte. Necesitamos más personas como tú en Venezuela. Eres muy valiente al publicar y dar tus opiniones de personas que han estado masacrando el país por años. Muchos de ellos vienen de familias de dinero bien y mal ávido.
Si necesitas mi ayuda en verificar u obtener información estoy a tus ordenes siempre y cuando sea en absoluta confidencialidad.
Tengo 26 años en USA. Estudie parte del colegio y luego en la Universidad de Boston (1991 -1994). Consecuentemente me vine a trabajar a New York donde la mayoría de mi carrera fue en ABN AMRO Bank pero estuve en otros bancos también. Estoy muy allegado al periodismo y comprendo intrínsecamente en parte su dinámica. Mi padre fue vice-presidente ejecutivo y mano derecha de Miguel Angel Capriles Ayala fundador de la Cadena Capriles por mas de 40 años. A su muerte mi padre pasa a ser presidente de las empresas por tres años. Después de tres años entrego la presidencia a el hijo heredero de Capriles senior, Michu. Corrientemente mi padre esta en retiro pero sigue como Director principal del Banco Mercantil. Podrás imaginar que crecí entre periódicos y revistas. Pero no estoy casado hablando de intereses con ninguna empresa, institución, o persona en Venezuela así que mis opiniones son parciales.
Soy fundador y Chairman de Torino Capital un Investment Bank americano que reside en New York.
Tu nombre me suena conocido. Si no te importa me cuentas un poco de tu bio.
Si te encuentras en New York me encantaría poder conversar contigo personalmente.
Muchos periodistas en Venezuela y offshore por miedo no publican mucha información y por eso tienes mi respeto. Continua valientemente tan importante trabajo
Saludo,
Victor

5 June 2017

#LondonBridge and Tory cuts to The Metropolitan Police

Let me just say that I am very upset and angry about the latest terrorist attack in #LondonBridge. Only days before, and at roughly the same time, we were walking those very streets near Borough Market and London Bridge. It could have been my dear friends, my wife... Then I ponder on the goals of those thugs: what can they possibly achieve with such stupid, backward and senseless attack? Do any of these deranged imbeciles really think that driving into a crowd, or stabbing people is going to bring Western civilisation and its tenets to a halt? If anything their actions are only increasing the world's resolve to eradicate them, and their nihilistic ideology from the face of the earth.

But today, the debate dominating the agenda is whether savage Tory cuts have diminished law enforcement capabilities:

I'm a serving firearms officer and the Government is wrong to claim police cuts have nothing to do with recent attacks

Despite her denials, Theresa May’s cuts to police numbers have made attacks like London and Manchester much more likely
From personal experience, I think I can provide an answer to whether the Conservatives' insane approach to balancing the budget -at the expense of core services- has had any impact.

As readers of this blog may remember, in November 2014 thugs -either sent or hired by Venezuelans- broke into our flat, stole my laptops, and left ominous threats of sexual abuse against my children. The reaction and actions of The Metropolitan Police in this particular case have been amateurish, unprofessional, deeply unsatisfactory and utterly inefficient.

A few things became evident since my first interaction with Metropolitan Police officers that arrived in our building, after calling 999, the most shocking being, of course, to hear the inspector assigned to the case tell me "you brought this upon yourself" due to my exposing corruption and white collar criminals. A great line to reassure a victim no doubt. But that claim came after the opening qualifier: "I'm dealing with over 20 cases at the minute and yours being just a regular break in to steal gadgets is not a priority."

Those words set what would follow. The Metropolitan Police officer in charge did not know how to take a screenshot of the CCTV video provided as evidence. The CCTV itself was only collected from our building a week after the incident. The mobile phone left in the flat didn't produce a single lead. My questions about access to public CCTV in buses, train and Tube stations to determine movements of suspects were dismissed with "we can't do that due to data protection." One unpleasant interaction after another led me to raise a complaint, which was dealt with an investigations supervisor who was equally clueless, and uncooperative, excusing lack of progress on jurisdictional grounds. While I was reassured that images of suspects and information had been shared within the Metropolitan Police with anti terrorism unit, and with other investigative departments, the fact is the thugs that came to terrorize my family got away with it.

Time and again I heard apologetic arguments from the Metropolitan Police, about being understaffed, underpaid and stretched far beyond its capabilities. And who is responsible for that situation? David Cameron, George Osborne, Theresa May and the rest of the nasty people at the top of the Tory party, for whom balancing a budget is prioritized over people's health, education and protection. And things have only gotten worse. As disgusting and unpalatable as Jeremy Corbyn is, he got one thing right when he said: "You can't protect people on the cheap."

Theresa May has been repeatedly warned about the consequences of police cuts. Does she care, or rather, what exactly has she done about it? Theresa May was very much part of Cameron / Osborne government. She can not, at this juncture, skirt her personal responsibility in the mess created by her and her predecessors. Instead of "accusing" Corbyn of "trying to sneak into Number 10" -which is precisely what she did- she must apply to herself some of the arguments she repeats like an automaton.

17 May 2017

Importadores de material de represión en Venezuela


Mi interés en el material de represión, que ha causado ya decenas de muertes en Venezuela, comenzó cuando recibí documentos de Zuma Seguros que evidencian una de las formas en las cuales estos guisos suceden. La investigación de los individuos y empresas involucradas (Zuma Seguros, Sinotrade, Gustavo Mendiri, Renny Calderin, Ciro Amesty, Gabriel Miño Mendoza, Giuseppe Yoffreda Yorio, Venezolana de Exportaciones e Importaciones) que publique en Twitter se ha regado como el gas lacrimógeno con el que reprimen a la población.

Y una de las consecuencias ha sido que me filtraron data de todos los importadores de material de represión en Venezuela. Desde 2009. Los montos no son muy altos: en total un poco más de 35 millones de dólares. Igualmente, analizando la data con el sistema armonizado de códigos (todas las importaciones están clasificadas en Capítulo 93 relativo a armas, municiones y sus repuestos y accesorios), he encontrado varias cosas extrañas, por decir lo menos.

Andres Mauricio Acuña Vargas, por ejemplo, aparece importando armas de caza o para uso deportivo. Ningún problema allí. Otros ejemplos:

  • Aerocamiones de Venezuela, importando pistolas y/o revólveres desde Puerto Rico.
  • Cemex de Venezuela, importando cartuchos desde EEUU.
  • Comercial Vasco Venezolana, importando munición e items clasificados como de aire comprimido (lacrimógenas?) desde España.
  • Complejo Siderurgico de Guayana, importando espadas, sables o bayonetas desde EEUU. 
  • DHL, importando todo tipo de armamento, municiones, etc. desde Panamá.
  • Zoom International, importando todo tipo de armamento, municiones, etc. desde EEUU.
  • Distribuidora Nacional Centurión, importando municiones, espadas..., e items clasificados como de aire comprimido desde España.
  • Maximo Olivieri, representante en Venezuela de Beretta, importando desde Italia.
  • Falken de Venezuela, debo agregar aqui, que Falken de Venezuela parece ser una subsidiaria de Falken S.A. de España. Esta empresa, relacionada con dirigentes del Partido Popular, es de la familia Bardisa Jorda, y vende casi exclusivamente material de represión (ver foto). Cabe mencionar que Falken comenzó a exportar sus productos a Venezuela en 2009, y su última importación fue en 2015. Es decir, le ha vendido tanto a Chavez como a Maduro, todas sus 37 operaciones -salvo tres- a cambio preferencial (2,15, 4,30 y 6,30).

En cuanto a la procedencia y numero de importaciones: Alemania (40), Austria (6), Bélgica (13), Francia (3), Italia (70), Bielorrusia (1), Brasil (4), Chile (6), Argentina (2), China (4), Arabia Saudita (1), Emiratos Arabes (1), Mexico (5), Hong Kong (1), Panama (26), Puerto Rico (6), Peru (1), Corea del Sur (1), Taiwan (1), Turquia (6), Estados Unidos (120), y España (98).

Todas las importaciones hechas a través de DHL, FEDEX o Zoom carecen de información sobre identidad del remitente. 

Contacte a los representantes de Falken, en Venezuela y España. No he recibido respuesta. Contacte también a periodistas en España, ya que la familia que controla Falken es conocida hasta cierto punto. No ha habido respuesta... 

A continuación la lista de todos los importadores, cuyos detalles pueden buscarse rápidamente en el Registro Nacional de Contratistas, bajo este formato: 


  1. C.A Venezolana De Industrias Militares 
  2. Comercializadora Verotex C.A. 
  3. Inversiones Urmon 77, C.A 
  4. Ministerio De La Defensa 
  5. Omar Jose Gimenez Zabaleta 
  6. Representaciones Doral S.A. 
  7. Venezolana de Exportaciones e Importaciones
  8. Herrera Crespo Gerardo Jose 
  9. Comercial Vasco Venezolana, C.A. 
  10. Glock De Venezuela C.A. 
  11. Inversiones Guiama C.A. 
  12. Zoom Internacional Services C. A. 
  13. Moreno Guevara Ramon Antonio 
  14. Rodriguez Madera Jorge Javier 
  15. Importadora Yinphie 
  16. Inversiones Y Suministros A & A C. A.
  17. Martinez Juarez Cesar Rafael 
  18. Prendas Militares Fotoscreen C.A. 
  19. Vieira Rodriguez Luis Manuel
  20. Vivas Castellanos Jose Gregorio 
  21. Falken Venezuela, C.A 
  22. Armas Llano C. A. 
  23. C.A. Cartuchos JK 
  24. Cartuchos Victoria, C.A. 
  25. Casa Bianca, C.A. 
  26. Distrib. Nac. Centurion, C.A. 
  27. Inversiones Cabello S. A. 
  28. Inverca S. A. 
  29. Maximo Olivieri C.A. 
  30. Acuna Vargas Andres Mauricio 
  31. Aerocamiones De Venezuela, C.A. 
  32. Anchor Fasteners C.A 
  33. Armaragua C. A. 
  34. Banco Central de Venezuela 
  35. Carlos Manuel Fleitas Cruz 
  36. Cemex de Venezuela,
  37. Complejo Siderurgico de Guayana
  38. Da Silva De Freitas Juan Oswaldo
  39. DHL Fletes Aereos C. A. 
  40. Distrimport Carabobo C.A. 
  41. DLM Logistics Venezuela, C.A. 
  42. Dual Import Export, C.A. 
  43. Federacion Venezolana De Tiro 
  44. Federal Express Holdings S.A. 
  45. Gimeno P Pedro J 
  46. Hilti Venezuela, S. A. 
  47. Huerta Carlon Gregorio Rutil 
  48. Inversiones 1511, C.A. 
  49. Inversiones Ararauna 4x4, C.A. 
  50. Inversiones Iaseteca, C.A. 
  51. Representaciones Marcos Gonzalez 
  52. Ruy Part C.A. 
  53. Schlumberger Venezuela S.A. 
  54. Servicios Y Suministros De Oriente 
  55. Supermercado Los Diaz C.A 
  56. Tactical Sports, C.A. 
  57. Zoom Internacional Services C. A. 
  58. Fapco, C.A. 
  59. Gustavo Enrique Suarez Rodriguez 
  60. Maria Pellicane Lampasona 
  61. Emporio Del Fumador, C.A. 
  62. Benedetto Parziale 
  63. Cardeport Special C.A 
  64. Pescalo A Pulmon.Com 
  65. Scarlet Gabriela Azuaje Hernandez 
  66. Scrosoppi Mar, C.A. 
  67. Srt Consultores, C.A. 
  68. Boutique Del Cazador C. A. 
  69. El Bodegon De Las Armas C. A. 
  70. Administradora Los Cortijos Verdes 
  71. Exito, C.A. 
  72. Invermil S. A. 
  73. Mg Gun Sport Internacional, C.A. 
  74. Armeria Global Gl, C.A. 
  75. Letter Express International, C.A. 
  76. Representaciones Cobarca, C.A.

1 May 2017

Francisco Convit incriminates Derwick Associates

Last week Palomo Linares died in Spain. The bullfighter and paramour of Lilia Lopez (mother of Derwick Associates' head Alejandro Betancourt) was instrumental in providing bona fides and opening doors, which led to considerable money laundering by Derwick Associates in Spain.

From left: Francisco D'Agostino, Alejandro Betancourt, Pedro Trebbau, Edgar Romero Lazo and Francisco Convit.
I taunted the bolichicos by twitting my "condolences" to Betancourt's mum and sister, for the deceased bullfighter was also father to Betancourt's sister's boyfriend. I know, I know, typical Spanish real life tattle, where father and son just happen to be involved with mother and daughter.

My tweet must have rattled Derwick's cage. Francisco Convit, according to recently leaked documents owner of 50% of Derwick Associates (below), reacted by claiming I was a "dirty rat", and, unlike Palomo who was described as an all time great, no one would remember me when I die. To that I replied that, most certainly, that would be the case, for it wasn't me who stole over one billion dollars worth of public funds in Venezuela.


The ensuing Twitter debate was very boring. The usual chavista claims regarding my being a "hired pen" and my alleged inherited mental issues were wheeled out, almost immediately. From there, it took a moment to start referencing my father's suicide, over and over again, as cause of my "depression". In chavista Venezuela, mocking people's mental issues and family tragedies is common currency.

Convit claims to know a great deal about me and my mental issues. He claims, in fact, to know my thoughts. As the tweet on the left shows, Convit said "when your mind starts telling you that you're useless, to question why would (your) daddy do what he did, or your wanting to slit your wrists."

Freud would be proud at such preeminence.

But that's not what caught my attention, after all chavistas and associated thugs have been making impossible to prove claims about me for years now, from reviving my deceased mother, to turning my sister into Hugo Chavez's lover (despite her residing permanently in another continent), to my mental issues, when not my "AIDS-spreading" homosexual adventures. It's all part of the progressive repertoire.

Convit also said however, that the break into my flat, which happened on 17 November 2014, was my own doing: an act of self promotion aimed at drawing attention to myself.

Now this does interest me. For Convit spiced up his Twitter attack with repeated questions about my alleged "unemployed status", and my alleged "living like a wealthy person in London".

How exactly does Convit know my employment status?

How can Convit possibly claim knowledge of my living "like a king... in London, the world's most expensive city"?

When I saw these tweets, I immediately contacted London's Metropolitan Police's case investigator. The spurious arguments, of my alleged terrorising my own children and staging a break in, could almost be expected from such a deranged thug. But what to make of repeated unemployment status and life style mentions?

In that respect I have my own theory. Both my family and myself were subject of illegal surveillance, in and around London, that lasted months prior to assault to our flat. My wife, children and myself, were photographed, together and separately, in different locations. Pictures of our daily commute to school and work, at different day times, were posted by anonymous individuals across a variety of websites and social platforms. I have a catalogue of such pictures and have done a tremendous amount of investigation regarding metadata, time stamps of photoshopping, etc.

I know parties in Caracas, as well as in India, were involved. Threats of sexual abuse made against my children were written and sent, twice, from Tbilisi. Defamation tasks were likely assigned through micro tasking platforms. It is highly likely that at least one of the three assaulting men resides in Spain.

Convit has all these information. He knows at what time we leave in the morning and at what time we come back in the afternoon. He's privy to location of my children's school, in fact pictures of it were posted. Defamation campaigns launched a week after break in used Convit's very same arguments, regarding my life style and alleged unemployment.

How can someone who doesn't know me, has never met me, has no common acquaintances, and lives in Caracas, claim to know what I do and how I live in London? This is the best indication, as yet, of Derwick Associates' direct involvement in theft of my laptops, terrorising my family and break in. I have documentary proof demonstrating that their procurement to Venezuelan institutions was done through nepotism and rampant corruption. Now I have public admissions, an entire Twitter collection in fact, of knowledge of details about my life that only somebody who knows me really well can know.

Even someone of Convit's intellectual calibre would realise, sooner or later, that self incrimination is not a good business practice, much less considering Venezuela's current situation, and the fact that the entire country has come to know him and his partners as epitomes of all that went wrong under chavista rule. Remember that these folks travel the world pretending they're upstanding captains of industry and capital investors now. So Convit had his Twitter account deleted. In any case, I saved copies of incriminating tweets, and passed all details to London's Metropolitan Police and to Twitter.

Convit, or his community manager, sent me an email afterwards claiming he did not have a Twitter account. Almost simultaneously, his @franciscoconvi7 Twitter account was deleted.  Just a coincidence I'm sure... I have a very accurate X-ray of Derwick Associates' operations, investments, and assets around the world. Chavismo is not going to last forever, nor will Derwick's impunity.

24 March 2017

Ramiro Helmeyer & RaFa new reputation-cleaning online technique: DDoS & IoT


UPDATED 28/03/2017 - 15:42GMT* - In the latest chapter of new and creative forms of silencing / eliminating from view, accurate and relevant information about certain characters of Venezuela's underworld, this week I've been battling with yet another DDoS attack against my first, now inactive, website: vcrisis.com. This time round, thousands of smartphones are being used, presumably without owners consent, to direct traffic (POST and GET requests) to my site. But the more interesting aspect is that most traffic comes from a handful of Google Cloud's IP addresses.

You read that right, DoSers are using Google's power to crash my server. For public benefit and future reference, abused addresses are:

104.199.239.63
104.155.223.136
35.185.97.148
35.185.71.234
104.198.44.92
104.154.156.18

The requests being made, by the thousands, look like this:

www.vcrisis.com 35.185.71.234 - - [23/Mar/2017:00:01:13 -0400] "POST /index.php?content=archive HTTP/1.1" 200 498751 "-" "Mozilla/5.0 (BlackBerry; U; BlackBerry 9900; en)

www.vcrisis.com 35.187.34.71 - - [23/Mar/2017:00:01:11 -0400] "POST /index.php?content=archive HTTP/1.1" 200 498752 "-" "Mozilla/5.0 (Linux; U; Android 2.3.3; de-ch; HTC Desire Build/FRF91) AppleWebKit/533.1 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0 Mobile Safari/533.1"

www.vcrisis.com 104.155.223.136 - - [23/Mar/2017:00:01:11 -0400] "POST /index.php?content=archive HTTP/1.1" 200 498764 "-" "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 7.0; Windows Phone OS 7.0; Trident/3.1; IEMobile/7.0; Nokia;N70)"

www.vcrisis.com 104.155.223.136 - - [23/Mar/2017:00:01:07 -0400] "GET /? HTTP/1.1" 200 22781 "-" "Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.3; WOW64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/47.0.2526.111 Safari/537.36"

www.vcrisis.com 35.187.34.71 - - [23/Mar/2017:00:01:07 -0400] "POST /index.php?content=archive HTTP/1.1" 200 498759 "-" "Opera/9.80 (J2ME/MIDP; Opera Mini/9 (Compatible; MSIE:9.0; iPhone; BlackBerry9700; AppleWebKit/24.746; U; en) Presto/2.5.25 Version/10.54"

Logs show thousands of such requests, to the extent that the server has been shut down and special measures have been put in place by my web hosting provider. I have, of course, shared relevant data with Google's Project Shield, whose staff alerted me to increased traffic towards my vcrisis.com site the other day.

One of the benefits of this new association with Project Shield is that I get to see things that I couldn't / wasn't aware of before, such as the number of removal requests made on articles posted on my website. The one reprinted below, for instance, which is a post written by blog friend, financial crime consultant Ken Rijock, seems to be causing some discomfort to criminal Ramiro Helmeyer and his community manager, also convicted criminal, RaFa the hacker

My dashboard shows that since 27 September 2016, 54 removal requests have been made on stuff posted on vcrisis.com, almost all of them to have the article below removed. Checking on removal requests made on articles posted in my other site, infodio.com, I noticed that all 368 such requests, from the first one made also on 27 September 2016, are either articles on RaFa, or those exposing his who's who list of thuggish / criminal Venezuelan clients, from convicted Helmeyer, to more recently convicted Roberto Rincon...

Some time ago I alerted Matt Cutts about RaFa's astroturfing. I guess he's having to do all the criminals' white washing again. And he's succeeding at it I reckon. Google searches for Ramiro Helmeyer return these results these days: surely David Beckham, Alec Baldwin and Jesse Eisenberg wouldn't be proud of such usage of their images.



* An update: the good folks at Project Shield sent a message saying "It was a Layer 7 HTTP flood DDoS attack." Further investigation revealed that Project Shield own IP addresses were indeed used in the DDoS attack. What interests me is the level of sophistication Venezuelan crooks are employing to scrub their reputations. Considering the staggering amounts of money they've gotten through corruption, and the kind of services employed, is not difficult to foresee that their past misdeeds will be eliminated from public domain.

24 February 2017

[UPDATED] DDoS, DMZHOST, spam, Project Shield...


This post was intended to be posted in infodio.com. Evidently, my contentment about having defeated the DDoS attack was premature... Please see updates at bottom.

It's been a busy week. As I was chatting to a source in Caracas the other day, I noticed that this site was down. Asked my web host (shout out to the excellent folks at LeaseWeb), and was informed that -yet another- DDoS attack had been launched against us. This is the third time a DDoS attack has been directed to my websites: once at vcrisis.com and twice at infodio.com

This is how it looked this morning...

 I must wonder, of course, at the reasons. Why would anyone seek to prevent the general public from learning about the stuff I publish? Is it because we expose Venezuela's rampant corruption? For those who are yet to get acquainted with the situation, Venezuela is a Spanish speaking country, of some 30 million. It is, after 17 years of chavista rule, a failed nation in the fullest sense of the term. But this site does not cater for a Venezuelan readership. It seeks to inform the wider world about who's who in the Boliburgeoisie, a new extremely wealthy and, equally, extremely inept class of 'businessmen' that could only become minted under the shadow of Hugo Chavez's so called socialist revolution. We talk about the Alejandro Betancourts of this world, the Juan Carlos Escotets, the Victor Vargas, the Danilo Diazgranados, the Francisco D'Agostinos and Luis Obertos... we investigate the origin of their newly found riches, we track their operations across many different jurisdictions, we expose those who enable, aid and abet them, like Adam Kaufmann, Glenn Simpson, Al Cardenas, or even Baltazar Garzon, we uncover their deals, in Africa, Europe, Russia, Asia, in sum, we shed a glimmer of sunlight on their otherwise opaque underworld.

It is, therefore, to be expected that such work would attract the ire of nasty, criminal, yet extremely resourceful thugs (dirty money is welcomed by everyone everywhere nowadays). Dealing with this lot exposes us to very dangerous vendettas. They operate in a world without border / immigration barriers. They criss-cross the globe in their own private jets: one day they're having Heston Blumenthal cooking for them, the next they're in St. Barths hanging with Roman Abramovich, and the third meeting with ex-WSJ hacks, former Manhattan prosecutors and leaders from America's GOP, when not cavorting with the very best of Sloanes in London. Their reach knows no constraints either. A London raid can be easily organized from Caracas, without as much as a worry of ever getting caught. That's the kind this site deals with.

The latest comes from Russia, or more specifically, an IP address controlled from Russia (191.96.249.70). A vulnerability in the Wordpress blogging platform allows the pingback method to be used to launch DDoS attacks (explanation here). Basically, someone makes use of that vulnerability to ping a target website. Checking my server logs, I noticed the following pattern:

"GET / HTTP/1.1" 200 32295 "http://infodio.com/" "WordPress/4.7.2; https://www.customescaperoom.com; verifying pingback from 191.96.249.70"


"GET / HTTP/1.1" 200 32293 "http://infodio.com/" "WordPress/4.6.3; http://www.toptasting.com; verifying pingback from 191.96.249.70"


"GET / HTTP/1.0" 200 145833 "-" "WordPress/4.0.15; http://wisecleaner.online; verifying pingback from 191.96.249.70"


When that request is repeated many thousands of times per second servers tend to collapse due to increased traffic, as was the case with mine. Thousands of such requests, as well as POST and HEAD requests, were launched from servers around the world.

However, IP 191.96.249.70, as all others, is associated to a host provider, in this case DMZHOST.CO. Said domain, as all others, is in turn registered by a person, somewhere, in this case a Christian P, with an address in the Seychelles very similar to that of Mossack Fonseca (Oliaji Trade Centre, Francis Rachel Street, Victoria Mahe, Seychelles).


Every domain has to have a person or organization responsible. In the case of DMZHOST.CO it initially had Dmzhost Limited as responsible party, but seems to have passed control to JUPITER 25 LIMITEDA search for Jupiter brings us closer to home, to 35 Firs Avenue, N11 3NE, London, United Kingdom. Please do note, in the last link, that there's a chris@dmzhost.co as contact for Jupiter. Could this be the same person as Christian P in the Seychelles? 

There are hundreds of companies registered in 35 Firs Avenue. According to Companies House data, Darren Symes is Jupiter's director, Symes is associated with over 200 companies. Others folks investigating similar attacks have had this to say about DMZHOST in the recent past:


“Bulletproof hosting” providers like DMZHOST provide VPSs that advertise themselves as outside of the reach of Western law enforcement. DMZHOST offers its clients “offshore” VPSs in a “Secured Netherland datacenter privacy bunker” and “does not store any information / Log about user activity.” At the same time, DMZHOST’s terms of service are just as concise. “DMZHOST does not allow anything (related) to the following content: – DDos – Childporn – Bank Exploit – Terrorism – NO NTP – NO Email SPAM”. 

Further investigation of IP 191.96.249.70 and Jupiter 25 Limited indicate that its DNS servers are controlled by yet another London-based company: Host1Plus. This one in turn seems to be a trading name of Digital Energy Technologies Ltd.

Bitcoin payments, obscuring identity of ultimate culprits, are readily accepted by both DMZHOST and Host1Plus. I sent a tweet to Host1Plus' Vincentas Grinius, that was replied in the most ridiculous fashion to avoid dealing with the actual DDoS question. 

I also sent an email request to chris@dmzhost.co, and got an almost immediate reply, asking for logs. Chris sends emails from somewhere around Pavia in Italy (93-36-187-144.ip61.fastwebnet.it). He claims the server used for DDoS attack "has been shutdown", but refuses to say who used the server, who contracted server services with his company, how did he get paid, and refuses to provide his full identity or that of his client/s. If he ever identifies himself fully, and provides proper explanations as to use of his platform to DDoS this site*, I shall add his comments here, alas I have no hope: while asking him to reconsider, my inbox has been rendered almost dysfunctional in a matter of minutes by an avalanche of spam (see below), which started after my third email to Chris. So the server "has been shutdown" alright, but the attack has morphed...


Despite denials, queries per second peaked minutes after
confronting Chris@dmzhost.co as per Project Shield's data.
Not all has been bad though. Right after Brian Krebs suffered the largest ever DDoS attack I remember having read about how Google had come to the rescue. Through Twitter I got in touch with Nicholas Platt, Digital Media Producer of Jigsaw, a technology incubator of Alphabet (Google's parent co) and got an invite to join Project Shield, which is the Google platform that defeated Krebs attackers. I will be forever grateful for this. The folks from LeaseWeb, my web hosting provider, must also receive my public gratitude: rather than kicking me out -after all the attack caused a lot of disruption and man hours to solve, Tom, Reece and Bagata kept their Dutch cool and were tremendously helpful.


Virtual crooks are getting more brazen by the day, though I seriously doubt they will ever reach Google's levels of computing power. The silver lining is that due to the latest DDoS attack, no amount of stolen Venezuelan money will ever be able to knock this site offline again. It is yet to be determined which of the thugs normally exposed here is behind the latest attack, though we will carry on investigating, exposing, and shedding light upon corruption and the Boliburgeoisie. The latest findings put to rest the no-bid contracts given to Derwick, Diazgranados intentions to buy a sizeable portion of Compagnie Bancaire Helvetique, Charles Henry de Beaumont's dirty dealings with Oberto and other thugs in the Caribbean, the direct links between corrupt chavistas and their preferred contractors, etc.

* Right after confronting chris@dmzhost.co this afternoon, DDoS attack against infodio.com was relaunched, with the added bonus of a huge spam avalanche in my inbox. Chris claims that neither him nor his company were behind DDoS attack, and added that he "c­ould help you on miti­gating ALL attacks. W­e are experienced on ­mitigating attack sin­ce also us receice ma­ny attacks"... (sic)



Further investigations indicate that Chris' UK proxy, Darren Symes, has had a colourful past fronting for other scam artists grouped under Claremont Partnerships and Noble Rock Partners.

UPDATE 25.02.2017 13:38GMT: My server logs are providing more clues as per nature of attack. Project Shield's visits started yesterday morning:
104.196.28.249 - - [24/Feb/2017:10:26:29 +0100] "GET / HTTP/1.1" 200 146265 "-" "Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; ProjectShield-UrlCheck; +http://g.co/projectshield)"
This continued, more or less uninterruptedly, until early afternoon and was coupled with spidering by Google bots, etc.:
35.184.90.184 - - [24/Feb/2017:14:24:36 +0100] "GET / HTTP/1.1" 200 146265 "-" "Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; ProjectShield-UrlCheck; +http://g.co/projectshield)"
Then this happened:
104.155.70.96 - - [24/Feb/2017:14:26:09 +0100] "GET / HTTP/1.1" 200 145833 "-" "WordPress/4.4.2; http://jazzjackrabbit.org; verifying pingback from 191.96.249.54
104.199.6.69 - - [24/Feb/2017:14:26:09 +0100] "GET / HTTP/1.1" 200 32299 "http://infodio.com/" "WordPress/4.7.2; https://www.virtualsunburn.com; verifying pingback from 191.96.249.54
104.199.61.249 - - [24/Feb/2017:14:26:09 +0100] "GET / HTTP/1.1" 200 32299 "http://infodio.com/" "WordPress/4.6; http://pironsecurity.com; verifying pingback from 191.96.249.54"
At 14:24, chris@dmzhost.co sent an email saying:
"Do not threat since for be clear we are not who launch you the attack. And we have take immediate action suspending the server so lawfully speaking we are total ok." (sic)
About two minutes passed between his "lawfully speaking we are total ok" and the restart of DDoS and further spam avalanche. However the IP had been changed, from previous 191.96.249.70 to 191.96.249.54, both controlled by his DMZHOST company.

Email headers suggests that his email server (mail.ru) is located in a GMT +0300 time zone (Russia) and then routes it through Italy's Fastweb. His browser appears to be configured in Italian and he visited some of my sites from a Fastweb server at around same time:


I've sent an email to abuse@corp.mail.ru, however I have little expectation of ever getting a straightforward and appropriate reply (Added: mail.ru did reply, claiming chris@dmzhost.co is not a registered client despite email header evidence to the contrary). The spamming of my inbox continues in earnest: my last email was not replied, I guess Chris did not appreciate my confronting him and details in this post (Added: eventually a couple of emails made it into my inbox over the weekend, one from usual @dmzhost.co address and the other from dmzhosts@protonmail.com, whereby our DDoSer and spammer claims "IF YOU ARE RECEIVING THIS MAIL ITS BECAUSE WE CANNOT REACH YOU FROM OUR MAIN MAIL. Please provide another mail which is not being spammed.. or skype account").

DDoS Attacks directed to the site are still crippling functionality and access, with five outages in the last seven days.



UPDATE 01.03.2017 07:46GMT: infodio.com has been back online for over 48 hours, and is updated.

Looking at the latitude and longitude details of attacking IPs 191.96.249.70 and 191.96.249.54 in Google Maps, I noticed Rosneft HQ location. Further research reveals that Rosneft.ru has exactly the same latitude and longitude details that IPs from where DDoS attack against my site were launched. Considering chavismo's relations with Russian 'state' companies, isn't that just an extraordinary coincidence?