Derwick Associates aircraft: The limits of secrecy

This is a post about how hard it is to keep a secret when you’re throwing millions of dollars around. But I’ll get to that.

Yesterday, the intrepid Cesar Batiz ran a couple stories about Derwick Associates, a Venezuelan electricity industry contractor with an uncanny ability to win large contracts. There was this short one, which cited data that blogger Alek Boyd and I provided to César showing that US authorities have been poking around on our websites. I am the first to admit that this doesn’t mean there is a formal investigation underway of any of my companies-of-interest, but I think his headline is fair: FBI casts an eye over Venezuelan company.

And then there was a long article, looking in great detail at how Derwick Associates portrays itself in its Florida defamation case against a Venezuelan bank, and comparing that self-portrayal with the documentary record. César: CHAPEAU. Seriously good work on this one. Unfortunately Últimas Noticias has already taken down the story, who knows why. On the recommendation of Alek Boyd, who wrote a nice update on things Derwickian yesterday, I rescued the story from Yahoo’s cache server and am posting it here for my usual reason: Memory holes aid no one. If there is an error in this story, please tell me and I’ll post a note right on it to set the record straight. But to hide this story would be to toss out the baby with his diaper.

Yahoo Cache on La historia íntima de De…idad | Últimas Noticias

One datum in the story that I had never noticed — even though it has been sitting in an Excel file on my computer for months — is that Derwick is the apparent owner of a Falcon 2000 business jet with tail number N229DA. The registrant in the US FAA database is “CSC TRUST CO OF DELAWARE TRUSTEE,” one of these companies that exist for no reason other than to hide the real ownership of US-registered planes. (The FAA should really put these companies out of business by requiring the to post publicly the ultimate beneficial owner of the jets, by the way.) But there’s another FAA database, (the list of planes approved for reduced vertical separation minima, if you must know) that shows Derwick Associates de Venezuela under “OpName” (I think that means operator name) for the plane N229DA. So I think César has that right.

There’s another plane, too: I have a copy of that same FAA database from June that shows Derwick Associates de Venezuela under “OpName” of a Cessna 550 jet with US tail number N300CS. The plane was reregistered to CSC Trust Co of Delaware and then deregistered in the US after export to Venezuela. This page shows it in Venezuela with an unknown tail number. Something to try to find out more about, I suppose.