Tag Archives: usa

PetroTiger CEO pleads guilty to FCPA violation in Colombia

PolitickerNJ has the story.

The former co-chief executive officer (CEO) of PetroTiger Ltd. – a British Virgin Islands oil and gas company with operations in Colombia and formerly with an office in New Jersey – pleaded guilty today to conspiring to pay bribes to a foreign government official in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA)…

Sigelman admitted to conspiring with co-CEO Knut Hammarskjold, PetroTiger’s former general counsel Gregory Weisman, and others to make illegal payments of $333,500 to David Duran, an employee of the Colombian national oil company, Ecopetrol…

Colombia … announced in March of this year the arrests of Duran, his wife, a former employee of PetroTiger, and several other officials from Ecopetrol…

Go read it all

And here, yours at no extra charge, is the superseding indictment.

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Important crime news

That’s right, very important, right here.

Nice-Pak Products, Inc., a manufacturer of wet wipes, will stop advertising moist toilet tissue as flushable unless it can substantiate that the product is safe to flush.

That’s under a settlement between the company and the Federal Trade Commission.

nicepak

Nice-Pak was represented by Trenton Norris of Arnold & Porter in Washington, D.C.

Nice-Pak will no longer claim that its moist toilet tissue is safe for sewer and septic tanks unless it has substantiation for those claims.

Nice-Pak will also stop providing trade customers, such as retailers, with information to make such unsubstantiated claims.

Oh wait, no. That’s not the important one. This is.

Y en español también.

h/t quico

UPDATE. But seriously. Can you all please take your triumphalist “ooh la la here comes the collapse of el rrregimen” and just shut up and think for a minute?

This all is not especially good news. Find me an example of a country where the US has taken out top members of the government and things got significantly better within a decade. If this is really the way things are going, then it’s where things are going. But please don’t pretend that this is good news. This is horrible news. If the US moves on Cabello and/or other top members of the Venezuelan state, we are probably looking at a long period of extreme instability. Not fun.

And forget about Diosdado and friends. What about all these scumballs who are turning state’s witness? You think these are some sorts of charmers? Why do you suppose that the US has never brought charges against the many people whose criminal activity has been decently described on this website, and even more on those of Alek Boyd or Caracas Gringo? These are not nice people. These are assholes who have stolen, quite often, hundreds of millions of dollars from the people of Venezuela. And since they are able to give a bit of chisme on Diosdado Cabello, they get to live out their days in fancy suburban homes and send their kids to fancy universities and live happily ever after, while Venezuela falls ever deeper into a pit.

It’s a disaster, it’s a mess, and the people who should be doing something about it are the people of Venezuela, especially the relatively well off, literate and networked expatriates. But the extent of their organizing is to retweet Nelson Bocaranda once a day and then go back to the pool.

ANOTHER UPDATE: What the Devil says.

Derwick Associates has a very good day

Derwick-300x225

As they portray themselves

Yesterday was a good day for the guys in charge of Derwick Associates.

Last week, a group of three companies, two in Panama and one in Barbados, disclosed they had bought a bit more than 10% of Pacific Rubiales Corp. The Panama companies were well anonymized, but the Barbados one less so. Alek Boyd said on Twitter April 28 that he got the paperwork for the Barbados company. It belongs, he says, to Alejandro Betancourt, chairman of Derwick Associates. This was a surprise, given as I’ve covered each of those companies extensively and the last we heard, a top Pacific Rubiales executive was saying he didn’t know the Derwick guys. Continue reading

Deadlines are for little people

It being April, the ancient Roman “Tax season” that for some reason remains “tax season” in both the US and Canada, I am quite aware of deadlines right now. So it came as a bit of a shock to check out the SEDI page for NioCorp. SEDI shows insider stock, bond, option and warrant trades by insiders of Canadian listed companies. NioCorp is a junior miner trying to build a niobium mine in the US. As Otto has harped on a bit this week, Tommy Humphreys’s CEO.ca site was or maybe still is a paid promoter of Niocorp. (Not that Tommy hid that. Check out the 1,827 words of disclaimers and cautionary notes on this page, where the main article is just a video and 118 words of text.)

James “Casey” Forward (not to be confused with football player James Casey, or Louis James of Casey Research) was CFO of the company until a couple weeks ago, when there was one of those cryptic separation statements: Continue reading

US offers actually helpful energy aid for Caribbean

The US is offering to pick up where Venezuela’s PetroCaribe has left off, by offering financial aid for Caribbean nations that want clean energy. Solar and wind resources in the Caribbean are huge, and unlike cheap oil, they are likely to last for the next few million years.

Here’s a note just posted by the White House (hat tip to Boz, who tweeted it and is probably writing a more insightful note on the topic at this moment):

Today, President Obama met with Caribbean leaders in a U.S.-CARICOM Summit in Kingston, Jamaica… Discussion focused on the importance of improving energy security, reducing energy costs, and fighting climate change… Initiatives:

Clean Energy Finance Facility for the Caribbean and Central American (CEFF-CCA): The United States will launch a $20 million facility to encourage investment in clean energy projects…

Clean Energy Finance: In January, OPIC formed a dedicated financing and insurance team to advance development of the Caribbean renewable energy sector. OPIC is in advanced talks to finance a 20 MW solar farm in Jamaica, and has already committed financing to Jamaica’s largest private-sector wind farm, a 36 MW facility in Malvern, St. Elizabeth Parish. OPIC is actively looking for opportunities to support solar and wind energy projects in Jamaica and throughout the broader Caribbean region…

Clean Energy Economy Transition: The Department of Energy assembled U.S. and Caribbean stakeholder working groups to look at opportunities ranging from clean energy, efficiency, diversifying electricity generation, clean transportation and energy education, at the Caribbean Clean Energy Technology Symposium, held in St. Thomas in March…

Greening Tourism: … Caribbean Hotel Energy Efficiency and Renewables (CHEER) initiative, which supports projects to improve energy and water efficiency as well as the exchange of best practices in the hotel and tourism industry. USAID is launching a complementary project focused on the Eastern Caribbean that will develop new financing tools for energy efficiency and renewables.

I am skeptical of PetroCaribe because I don’t like anything that encourages poor people or countries to increase their fossil fuel dependence. Oil is likely to get more expensive over time and even if it doesn’t, burning oil and gas contributes to climate change and increase dependence on global trade, both of which are especially risky for small island countries.

I know the US is doing this out of self-interest, both trying to get brownie points with small countries that have votes at the UN, OAS, etc. and also trying to expand markets for big solar and wind companies. I’m sure there will be criticism of the program because it’s not altruistic, while PetroCaribe arguably is/was. But if that’s the best criticism of this project, bring it on. A world full of that sort of problems would be a world I’d be happy to live in.

In a way, this is the best possible result of PetroCaribe. I can’t prove this, but I suspect that if it weren’t for competition for regional loyalty from energy-rich Venezuela, I doubt the US would be doing this right now. But the competition is there, and this relatively interesting program is born.

This is part of why it is so sad that the Venezuelan revolution was so laden with hypocrisy and corruption. The basic idea of a “mundo pluripolar” is sound.

Bolichico biographic info (partially) unsealed

For those coming late to the party: Washington insider/anti-Communist crusader Otto Reich has been pursuing a lawsuit against a group of young men from Venezuela who are associated (exactly how associated is a matter of debate) with Derwick Associates. Derwick is a middleman company that got some sweetheart deals in the Venezuelan electricity industry around 2010 (just how sweet is a matter of debate). Reich claims that these guys messed with his reputation and income, and he sued them not just for defamation but also for racketeering, fraud, foreign corrupt practices and conspiracy. The court tossed the racketeering and conspiracy charges, while the rest of the case has moved ahead.

The issue currently at hand is whether the court has “personal jurisdiction” over two of the defendants, Leopoldo Alejandro Betancourt Lopez andPedro Jose Trebbau Lopez. Both sides are presenting heaps of evidence to show that these guys were or weren’t connected in legally binding ways to New York. The defendants are trying to show that they have so little connection to New York that a New York court has no right to judge them. The other side, meanwhile, has to share all sorts of facts about these guys in order to show that indeed they are connected to New York. As a result, the court gets to see what the Derwick guys do in New York.

For the past four-plus months, most of the substantive filings were under seal. This was annoying. It was annoying enough that when Reich moved to unseal some documents, I wrote a letter to support that measure. It went into the record March 24. It was probably just a coincidence, but less than three hours later, the judge ordered the sides to convene March 26 to talk about unsealing the docket, and on that date the judge ordered the parties to prepare redacted versions of their filings so that they could appear in the public record rather than being kept under seal.

The redacted documents were released Friday. They lack much of the financial info that some people would like to see. Instead, most of what’s in there is a pretty detailed level of stuff that only a real geek would care about, like:

Continue reading

Illarramendi in his own words: He was a pawn

Francisco Illarramendi, who is currently appealing his 13-year sentence for securities fraud related to the pension fund of Venezuelan state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA, filed this interesting document into the federal court docket back in January. I missed it, but if you were interested in his case, it’s worth reading. It’s basically his version of events, laid out in very long form. Among other details, he basically claims to have invented Venezuela’s permuta Bs./$ bond sales system:

Prior to the instant offense, Mr. Illarramendi worked in the securities industry with Credit Suisse from 1994 to 2004, conducting extensive work in Latin American countries, including Venezuela (“BROV”). PSR, at 23. While at Credit Suisse, Mr. Illarramendi was the leader of a team that developed a bolivar to U.S. dollar (“BVD/USD”) arbitrage mechanism that spawned the BROV’s ability to fund itself at significantly discounted interest rates. In 2004, he took a sabbatical from Credit Suisse, and began a special assignment as an advisor to Venezuela’s national oil company “Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A.” (PDVSA). PSR, at 22-23. During this assignment Mr. Illarramendi generated approximately $1.6 billion in savings, when based on his advice, PDVSA was able to repurchase $2.0 billion in outstanding bonds, utilizing Mr. Illarraendi’s arbitrage innovation. Thereafter, the BROV began issuing profitable bonds. PSR, at 22. Specifically, Mr. Illarramendi advised the Venezuelan government to issue bonds denominated in U.S. dollars, which were purchased using bolivars (“BVD”) at the official exchange rate. This allowed the financing of currency exchanges, and lower yields than would otherwise be available in the international markets. PSR, at 5. Ultimately, Mr. Illarramendi’s instruction and advice paid dividends well into the future, to the tune of billions of dollars for the BROV and PDVSA.

He then describes what his fund, Highview Point, did to make money. If you are keen on finance, go read it. He then describes how he ended up stuck in a bad deal: Continue reading