Monthly Archives: May 2011

Venezuela suspends driver’s licence, headlines follow

Gosh.

(Reuters) – Car-friendly Venezuela, where gasoline is almost free and troublesome highway rules rarely imposed, has suspended a bus driver from the roads for a year in the first case of a suspended license in the OPEC nation.

Police stopped Ramon Parra, 41, for driving at excessive speed in a large, overladen passenger bus that was missing one of its rear wheels.

The bus was packed with more passengers than legally permitted and one of its six wheels was wedged in an aisle inside, national police chief Luis Fernandez told reporters.

Continues here.

Venezuela oil output faces crime risk

People get busted from time to time stealing copper from Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA (see here, for example). And there was an oil spill in Lake Maracaibo last year when someone allegedly tried to haul away a 21-inch steel pipe that turned out to be an active underwater pipeline (I expressed doubts about that version of events at the time). Now, in the last two days, there are a couple new stories along the same lines, both from Venezuela Interior and Justice Ministry (my translation). Honestly, I feel a bit lazy just posting Venezuela stuff all the time, because it’s so easy. There’s always a strange story there. But what the heck, here are the articles:

Subject detained while trying to steal drilling rig from PDVSA company Continue reading

PDVSA Pension Ponzi: Who, me? Responsible for the money of others?

Devil’s Excrement has a take-down of Eudomario Carruyo, the CFO of Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA. He is looking slimier and slimier, and is epically refusing to take responsibility.

To refresh, the SEC is suing a Connecticut hedge-fund manager, Francisco Illarramendi, and various funds, for having run a Ponzi scheme, largely using PDVSA pension money. Illarramendi and two accomplices have already pleaded guilty to criminal charges in relation to the case. The SEC’s current complaint, filed last week, includes this tidbit that jumped out at me for being especially bizarre.

If you’re not a bond geek, you may find the following a bit opaque, and feel free to skip to the end. If you are a bond geek, well, enjoy. Continue reading

Citgo turns into cash cow, Fitch says

Bond rating agency Fitch put out a report on Citgo, saying that its first-quarter earnings (EBITDA) were almost as much as full-year earnings in 2010. The company is about to have all sorts of free cash flow, Fitch says.

As usual, there are several ways to see this:
- The Venezuelan state is going to be happy to have another cash generator on its hands, along with the $100-a-barrel prices it’s getting at PDVSA
- US drivers can go back to scapegoating Hugo Chavez for their $4 a gallon gasoline
- People looking for investment opportunities have all the more reason to storm over to other US refiners
- Lawyers for Exxon Mobil and ConocoPhillips are likely drafting up liens on that cash, and probably on the properties themselves

(add your own)

The literally open veins of Latin America

This is one of the most horrible and sad news stories I have ever read. It’s about a new commodity being taken from Latin America. Just go read it.

And while you do, maybe wonder a little bit: Why didn’t poor Peruvians vote for the status quo in the presidential election? And why do business reporters spend 90% of their time writing meaningless market stories about crack spreads and treasury bills, when they could be writing stories like this one? And no matter how bad my life may feel at times, am I lucky, or what?

OK, enough. Go read. Really.