Tag Archives: derwick associates

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:

Screen Shot 2014-11-25 at 4.08.17 PM

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?

Leak of Venezuela contractor documents raises questions (Updated)


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.”*

Continue reading

The problem with collaborators (Galt’s Gulch Chile, Argentine dictators, and Derwick Associates, oh my)

Ken Johnson, head of Galt's Gulch Chile, looks at proposed subdivision map at Curacaví city hall.

Ken Johnson, head of Galt’s Gulch Chile, looks at proposed subdivision map at Curacaví city hall.

I’ve been thinking about collaborators: people who go along with situations where they aren’t comfortable. Resisting or opposing would be hard, or cause legal inconveniences, or burn bridges, or ruin the chance of making big bucks. Some are just afraid. Collaborating with misbehavior, from a petty lie up to a major human rights violation, is normal and human. I probably go along to get along 99% of the time. But anyone who counts on reluctant collaborators is taking chances.

One example is Galt’s Gulch Chile (GGC). This is a proposed real estate development in the suburbs of Santiago, Chile, marketed toward libertarians and others who think the US, Canada and Western Europe are likely to collapse. Among its problems are that its managing partner, Ken Johnson, alienated a lot of workers, investors and buyers. By last November, when I visited the place for a Spring Celebration, some of the big names that were promoting the project were already feuding with Johnson over money and employment conditions. I sensed there were some odd personal dynamics but I figured they were the usual things one would get between a bunch of lone wolves trying to work together. Turns out it was worse. A few people have privately complained about Johnson; then a couple weeks ago, an early buyer went public alleging financial malfeasance. That broke the dam.

Suddenly, the interpipes were flooded with people who had been suspicious, those who claim to have warned buyers against the project, and even promoter-in-chief Jeff Berwick, saying that he was hoodwinked. He now claims he was already disillusioned with the project last August but chose to keep going along to get along so as not to cause other people any problems. Lawyer Erin Gallagly (who has never returned my calls seeking comment), in a now-deleted comment on Facebook, said she “witnessed a plethora of horror” in three months at GGC: failure to pay vendors, withholding pay from employees, threatening employees, financial mismanagement, and demanding that salespeople not share information.  Continue reading

WSJ says Proenergy, Derwick Associates face corruption investigation

The Wall Street Journal says US authorities are pursuing a preliminary investigation of Derwick Associates and Proenergy Services for possible banking and overseas corruption violations. No charges have been brought and Derwick denies everything.

Derwick is an exceptionally lucky electricity industry middleman in Venezuela and Proenergy Services is the ultimate recipient of its contracts. Derwick has in the past claimed that I am part of a defamation campaign against it. I’m not. The WSJ story starts thus. I am quoting at greater length than usual, sorry:

NEW YORK—Federal and New York City prosecutors have opened preliminary investigations into a Venezuelan company that became one of that country’s leading builders of power plants during the administration of President Hugo Chávez, as well as into a Missouri-based company which played a key role in its success, people familiar with the matter say.

The U.S. Department of Justice and the Manhattan District Attorneys’ office are probing Derwick Associates, a Venezuelan company that was awarded hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts in little more than a year to build power plants in Venezuela shortly after the country’s power grid began to sputter in 2009, the people familiar with the matter said.

ProEnergy Services, a Sedalia, Mo.-based engineering, procurement and construction company which sold dozens of turbines to Derwick and helped build the plants, is also under investigation, these people say.

The probes are in their initial phases, these people say, and it is possible that both investigations could be closed without criminal charges being brought. Continue reading

Chavista Freddy Bernal calls for investigation of Derwick Associates

Original, with full context, here. Short version: TV host Vladimir Villegas is pressing Venezuelan pro-government deputy Freddy Bernal for specific examples of companies or people who may have stolen from the country.


Freddy Bernal: En esta concierto para delinquir, hay empresas por ejemplo una empresa denominada Derwick. No sé quien será el dueño. Derwick. Esa empresa contratada con el estado.

Vladimir Villegas: Empresa venezolana.

Bernal: Sí, empresa venezolana. Y esa empresa compro, nada más y nada menos, que en Nueva York, el apartamento de Aristóteles Onassis. Bueno, yo creo que, creo que vale la pena investigar un caso de esas características.


Freddy Bernal: In this symphony of crime, there are companies like, for example, a company called Derwick. I don’t know who would be the owner. Derwick. A company with state contracts.

Vladimir Villegas: A Venezuelan company.

Bernal: Yeah, a Venezuelan company. And this company bought, in New York, nothing less than the apartment of Aristotle Onassis. Well I think, I think it’s worth the trouble to investigate a case with these characteristics.

Next time that Derwick Associates deigns to accuse me and other reporters of being “agents” in a “defamation campaign,” I hope they also include Mr. Bernal. Just for consistency.

The irony here is really thick. Bernal is citing information first posted on Alek Boyd’s Infodio website. In case you haven’t noticed, Boyd is a passionate anti-Chavista, while Bernal — one-time head of the Caracas police, mayor of Caracas, defense minister of Venezuela, and resident of the US’s drug kingpin list — is one of the most recognized Chavistas. Strange bedfellows. (Corrected: I had the guy confused with a different alleged drug kingpin. Bernal wasn’t defense minister.)

Reich vs the Derwick guys: A huge wait-and-see

Three alleged leaders of Derwick Associates, a company that won several procurement and construction contracts from Venezuela’s state oil company in 2009-2010 are being sued in US district court in New York by former ambassador Otto Reich. Reich alleges that the Derwick paid kickbacks to powerful Venezuelans including Oil Ministers Rafael Ramírez, and also spread lies to interfere with Reich’s business. The lawsuit names Leopoldo Alejandro Betancourt Lopez, Pedro Jose Trebbau Lopez, and Francisco D’Agostino Casado† as defendants. The first two have long been associated with Derwick in news articles. D’Agostino is better known to the society pages; he is a finance guy with an office in Panama. I had no idea he was linked to Derwick, and the complaint doesn’t provide proof. (Alek Boyd has a bit more on him here.)

Reich was a US diplomat to Latin America during the Reagan-Bush years, including a stint as ambassador to Venezuela, and was the Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs under George W Bush.

Derwick Associates is a small company that gets electricity industry construction contracts in Venezuela and then outsources the work, largely to ProEnergy Services of Sedalia, Missouri. It also works with General Electric and Pratt & Whitney, according to the complaint. I’ve written herehere and here about Derwick. The company has been the subject of investigative reports by César Batiz in Venezuela, alleging overcharging and possibly  and the company’s ham-handed reputation management got the attention of blogger Alek Boyd. I also wrote about the company when its lawyers sent me a note demanding I take down a blog post. I didn’t remove it and I never heard back from them.

The lawsuit starts with its biggest claim: that Derwick paid bribes, via intermediaries to Venezuelan Oil Minister Rafael Ramírez, former Basic Industries Minister Rodolfo Sanz, and a relative of an executive at state electricity company Corpoelec. One of the intermediaries was allegedly Nervis Villalobos, who previously appeared in Batiz’s article about Derwick’s planes, as having possibly traveled alone on a plane owned by Derwick.

Quoting from the suit itself: Continue reading

Otto Reich sues Derwick Associates execs, alleging racketeering

I have an unconfirmed lawsuit in which Otto Reich appears to be is suing three people allegedly connected to Derwick Associates, for racketeering. Will be posting much more on it bright and early. Here’s the suit, in case you’re wondering.


Also yes, if you are on my e-mail subscription list, you received a teaser of what I’ll be publishing. Sorry for taking it down for now — no sense running a whole analysis of a suit if I’m not 100% sure it’s real. Sure looks real, though, don’t it?

(Updated 31 July 2 pm EDT after confirming suit was really filed in NY.)

Much more detail & analysis here.