Tag Archives: $GE

Forbes gets it wrong, admits it, still needs pushback (Derwick, GE)

Hi friends! How would you like to not learn things? If that’s up your alley, go read this Forbes article (oops, they retracted it! but preserved for posterity at the Chicago Tribune) about Derwick Associates, your friendly neighbourhood electric industry middleman, offering Win-Win Solutions for big industry suppliers and corrupt state enterprises alike!

Stock analyst Hilary Kramer visited her old haunts in Venezuela. I’m guessing her trip included more than one visit to a rooftop bar with 400-bolivar cocktails, and very, very few visits to electricity plants. She picked up a tip (though she says not where) that Derwick Ass ociates is the New Big Thing saving her beloved Venezuela from its long night of blackouts and misery. Thanks, Kramer, for offering this delicious antidote to information.

Here’s the problem. Kramer writes about Derwick Ass ociates as though it were something new that had never before appeared in the press. She blissfully lauds the company and its efforts to build power plants.

That might have been excusable sometime in 2010. But in September 2011, César Batiz of Últimas Noticias ran a story that showed that Derwick and several other companies were unknowns who had received sole-source contracts, overcharged for the products they were selling, and then failed to deliver on time if at all. He wrote again about Derwick in 2012. His reporting has yet to be refuted by facts. Rather, time has showed that the Batiz version was basically right. What have we heard from Derwick? Well, there was this paid advertisement in El Nacional which remains viewable on the El Nacional website as though it were a news article. And there was this press release — oh sorry no, that’s actually a lawyer letter demanding that I take down a blog post. My bad!

Other than that, nothing. To my knowledge, they haven’t released publicly this audit report showing that they are clean of corruption (happy to be proved wrong if anyone wants to send me a copy). They very rarely respond to requests for comment from the press. Their website is barely informative. And most importantly for me, they have benefitted from (and possibly paid for) a massive online reputation management campaign to bury their bad reputation in a heap of banality and bullshit. My reward for exposing this unethical behaviour was that someone created slanderous websites about me with stolen photos of my family. (Hey thanks Google, nice of you to host that site, great way to thank me for cleaning up your search results.)

Enter Forbes.  Continue reading

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