PDVSA, South America’s second-biggest oil company by sales, has changed insurers to an international consortium of Swiss Brokers, FAC, and a Lebanese company called Etoile Properties Assurances that belongs to a French company, Etoile Properties Assurance, Business News Americas reports.
I don’t know about Swiss Brokers or FAC, both of which are names of legit companies (though not, from what I can tell, in industrial insurance). But a moment’s googling shows Etoile Properties Assurance doesn’t exist.
Its website says it is “one of the largest providers of insurance, brokerage and associated services.” It doesn’t give a client list. The internet domain was just registered in June.
The associated e-mail, basel.halawi at Gmail, also controls scores of other domains. They include BarentsRiskManagement.us, SelectRiskAdvisers.com, and many more, all but one of them registered since last June. The only older domain dates to 1995, which is downright Bronze Age by Internet standards. RiskManagement.com. The site itself is fairly Bronze Age, as well.
I called the phone number listed on the domain record and a person identifying himself as Maher took the call. He said it was his mobile phone. He declined to comment on the PDVSA deal and refused to give any information about Etoile, saying he wanted to check my website and ensure he was talking to a serious person. He asked me to text him the links and said to call back in a couple hours. I sent the links.
Four subsequent calls failed to connect. UPDATE2 (1 is below): I reached him once more and he said the message hadn’t arrived. He said he wouldn’t speak to me until I texted him with information about my website. When I told him I had already published an article, he said, “I don’t care about your article” and refused to give an e-mail address where I could send him information. (Though to be fair, this kind of crap is about par for the course for Latin American corporate PR offices — it could well be a major company! Who knows?) /end Update2/
It doesn’t matter, it’s not about him. It’s about PDVSA. I don’t know if BNA’s story is accurate. But if PDVSA is really paying this “company” for insurance, it’s a sign that these guys aren’t even trying anymore. Ovarb was much more convincing. Also, if anyone is counting on PDVSA’s insurance, yikes. Now I understand why InsuranceInsider.com said PDVSA is now uninsured. (If you pay the £2,000 for a subscription, feel free to forward me that full story.)
UPDATE1: I found a Spanish-language version of the Insurance Insider story here. Again, I can’t vouch for any of this, but it says, among other things:
La empresa rusa intermediaria Swiss Brokers fue seleccionada sin licitación alguna, al igual que la empresa de bajo perfil France Assurance Consultants y la corredora libanesa Etoile Properties Assurance…
France Assurance Consultants no parece tener una página web, ni tampoco una presencia notable en internet. Nada se pudo establecer sobre los Swiss Brokers.
That is, “The Russian intermediary company Swiss Brokers was chosen without any bidding, the same as the low-profile company France Assurance Consultants and the Lebanese broker Etoile Properties Assurance… France Assurance Consultants doesn’t appear to have a web page, nor any notable Internet presence. Nothing could be found regarding Swiss Brokers.”
But that’s ok, it’s not like the company has had any property losses in the past few days.