Tag Archives: ovarb

Who protects reputation for the Bolibourgeoisie?

Update: This post had some effect in the world, including the disappearance of a bunch of websites. Sorry for dead links. More follow-up here.

Screen Shot 2013-08-21 at 2.23.22 PMDerwick Associates is a Bahamas Bermuda*-based electricity contractor that has had great success selling power plants to Venezuelan state-owned enterprises. Those efforts have attracted attention from the press and, most recently, from former US ambassador to Venezuela Otto Reich, who sued two principals of Derwick for alleged interference with business and racketeering, also accusing them of bribery in Venezuela.

Derwick is the beneficiary of an aggressive on-line reputation management campaign. If you search the internet for terms associated with the company, such as the names of the two principals Reich accused, “Pedro Trebbau Lopez” and “Leopoldo Alejandro Betancourt Lopez,” you will find very few news articles about them. Some search engines, including¬†Bing¬†and DuckDuckGo, give an entire first page of spurious results (see image in upper left). Most of the results are for pages obviously designed to obfuscate, throwing banal dust into the eyes of the search engine and leaving a casual searcher with the incorrect impression that there’s nothing to see here. On Google, the first six results are such fluff. Ironically, one of the first serious articles to appear in these searches is an expos√© by blogger Alek Boyd about Derwick’s reputation management.

Everyone has a right to protect reputation online. And I don’t much care if someone wants to spend time and money filling websites with celebrity gossip, sex advice or technology news interspersed with the names of Derwick’s newsmakers. Sure, I could join in the existential pondering about the future of knowledge and the internet itself (and that is a very good article!), but the 3,000 words in this post need no padding. Instead, I invite you to follow me down a maze of on-line clues that for the first time connect a host of Venezuela corruption scandals and hint at the possibility that a highly regarded Venezuelan security consultant may be connected to an online defamation campaign and even to a pair of denial-of-service attacks on blogs. Continue reading

Will Rolls Royce scandal touch Venezuela?

A few months ago, Rolls Royce said its sales team may have gotten a bit too enthusiastic in sealing deals in Indonesia and China. Reuters reported at the time:

Aerospace and defence group Rolls-Royce (RR.L) may face prosecution after Britain’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) ordered it to hand over details of possible bribery and corruption in China and elsewhere, the company said on Thursday.

The world’s second-largest maker of aircraft engines said the SFO had asked it to conduct an internal inquiry into dealings involving intermediaries in China, Indonesia and other overseas markets, which it did not name, and report the results.

“It is too early to predict the outcomes, but these could include the prosecution of individuals and of the company. We will cooperate fully,” Chief Executive John Rishton said.

This story doesn’t mention it, but Rolls Royce has also sent equipment to Venezuela, via some unusual intermediaries. Here’s an article in Spanish. It would be interesting to know why exactly Rolls was willing to sell turbines to middle-men rather than selling for possibly twice as much money directly to PDVSA.

Keeping track of website updates (Arevenca/Madasi, Derwick, Ovarb)

One fun thing I like to do is watch when web pages are changed or removed. As I look into possibly untoward behaviour in the oil industry, I keep coming across situations where information disappears from the Internet. I give you three recent examples. Each one is minor, and I don’t want to speculate on people’s motives. I have no problem with privacy. I just don’t like memory holes, where information of public value was public and then disappears. So I am preserving and pointing out a few tidbits. Continue reading