Monthly Archives: November 2014

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar ($PRE.to, Derwick Associates)

This week I noticed this curious securities filing from US Oil Sands Inc from 2012. It includes the following tidbit:

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There’s nothing unusual about these two investment companies buying shares of an oil company. Ice Rose Holdings is controlled by Serafino Iacono, co-chairman of Pacific Rubiales Energy Corp., ID Introduction Ltd. is controlled by Jose Francisco Arata, as shown here. Arata is president of Pacific Rubiales. Oil guys, buying shares in an oil company.

What caught my eye was the address of Arata’s company. Torre Kyra PH-1, where have I heard that address before? That’s right: Derwick Associates. Having spent too many hours studying both Pacific Rubiales and Derwick Associates, without the vaguest sense that they overlapped*, I had to wipe up the shrapnel from my exploding head.

A Pacific Rubiales executive using Derwick’s address in 2012. That would have been pretty interesting.

But as I always like to do, I gave Pacific Rubiales a chance to comment. And in a rare departure, the company responded. A gracious note, too (even though they apparently have me confused with another blogger). Here’s what they say:

As to Derwick Associates, Mr. Arata does not know the company or the people running it and has no relationship with that company.  The address in question was the address in Caracas for companies that Mr. Arata worked for, but the office was sold back in 2009 and has not been used by Mr. Arata since. The filing from 2012 is simply an error, resulting from a failure on our part to update ID Introduction’s corporate address when helping Mr. Arata file the notice of private placement you read.  The proper corporate address is actually in Panama.

Thanks for the heads’ up on this, as we are now checking all our filings to make sure that ID Introduction’s proper address is reflected in all current filings.

So now on to another person using the address of Torre Kyra, PH-1. Mr. Alvarado, I’d love to give you a chance to comment, too, but I can’t find any contact info. Be in touch, let me know how to reach you.

* Unless you count that they both have dealings with David Osio’s financial institutions. But who doesn’t, right?

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ConocoPhillips investigating possible Citgo sale

Reuters had the scoop yesterday:

Venezuela’s state-run oil company PDVSA is using the sale of its Citgo Petroleum Corp refining assets to hinder the ability of ConocoPhillips to collect an expected arbitration award, the U.S. oil company said in a Texas court filing.

Evidence indicates PDVSA is liquidating its Citgo interests “to remove the proceeds from the United States to Venezuela or elsewhere with the specific intent to hinder, delay or defraud its creditors,” Conoco said on Monday in a petition for court approval to investigate that claim.

But as is typical, the big wire service couldn’t be dicked to post the filing. So here you go, yours at no extra fee. The “donate” button is over there on the right if you want to support independent journalism that actually gives you original documents, rather than making you scrounge around for them.

Leak of Venezuela contractor documents raises questions (Updated)

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Tomás Lander

What appears to be a leak of internal documents from Missouri electricity industry contractor ProEnergy Services and Venezuelan contractor Derwick Associates adds to questions about how ProEnergy got deals to sell products made by General Electric, Pratt & Whitney and Rolls Royce to Venezuelan state industries starting in late 2009.

The documents, posted to the website Scribd Nov. 17 by a person using the name “Tomás Lander,” include a proposal dated June 2009 from ProEnergy to Venezuela offering power plants. At the time, Venezuela was suffering periodic blackouts because demand for electricity was growing, a drought was draining hydroelectric reservoirs and the 2008 commodities bust had left the country with limited cash to deal with the crisis.

I haven’t been able to confirm that the documents are genuine. I sent e-mails to Derwick Associates’ press line, ProEnergy CEO Jeff Cannon and ProEnergy chief counsel Scott Dieball, asking them to validate or refute the authenticity of the documents and requesting comment. I haven’t received any response. At a glance, nothing about the documents indicates that they are forgeries. As such, for the rest of this article I will treat them as genuine documents. If ProEnergy, Derwick or anyone else offers any commentary on the documents, I will update this post to reflect their response.

The documents don’t show what happened to that ProEnergy proposal. However, another document shows that two months later, ProEnergy and Derwick agreed to cooperate in seeking work in Venezuela. Their agreement forbids either company from revealing “any and all details regarding transactions between Derwick and ProEnergy, details regarding transactions between a party and third parties, and the payment of fees and commissions.”*

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The curious case of N9GY

Taken without permission from Photobucket. Click for original.

Taken without permission from Photobucket. Click for original.

Back in July, Venezuelan General Hugo “Pollo” Carvajal arrived in Aruba by plane to take up his new position as a diplomat on the Caribbean island nation. Instead of going to a plush office to stamp visas, he was sent to jail for potential extradition to the USA on a freshly unsealed indictment for drug charges. Over the next few days, Venezuela reportedly did whatever it could to get Carvajal back, including raising the threat of military action. Carvajal was eventually freed, made persona non grata in Aruba, and sent home.

As I wrote at the time, one of the oddest parts of the whole affair was the widespread rumor that the plane that ferried Carvajal to Aruba had tail number N9GY. That plane is registered to a Delaware company called Global Air Services Corp. According to a record filed with the Texas secretary of state, Global Air Services Corp. is ultimately part of the far-flung corporate empire of Venezuela-American oilfield supply impresario Roberto Rincón.

César Batiz wrote a long, fascinating profile of Rincón over the weekend in Armando.Info, a relatively new Venezuelan investigative reporting outfit. I helped with the story, mostly gathering information on Rincón’s Texas companies and planes. There is one very curious piece of this that you, dear reader, may be able to help explain.

Plane owners can keep their real-time flight records off of websites like FlightAware.com by filing a confidentiality request with the US Federal Aviation Administration. However, flight records are still public documents. We filed a Freedom of Information Act request to the FAA to get flight records for N9GY. Here’s what we got for the dates in question:

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As you can see, the records show the plane arriving at Orlando July 18 and not leaving again until August 5. But we have people around the Caribbean claiming to have seen that plane during that period. And then, on August 6, the plane got to Merritt Island, without ever registering a flight to get there.

So what happened? Can someone in the aviation world help explain this to me?