Les fraudeurs

Monsieur Pigasse
Monsieur Pigasse

Yesterday we learned – via the increasingly indispensable Marianna Párraga – that PDVSA is selling the refinery it owns in the US Virgin Islands. This comes on the heels of the almost certain sale of Citgo, as well as other assets overseas.

Whether the reason for these privatizations is a lack of cash, a way of escaping from the claws of justice, or a little bit of both is not what’s important. The obscurity with which these transactions are being carried out is simply outrageous – no due process, no public discussion on the matter, no public tenders … nothing.

Remember, the people in charge now are the same people who tore their garments when CANTV and Viasa were privatized via an immaculate public tender process back in the early 90s.

As this latest scandal continues to unfold, and we are forced to learn about it via international news agencies, over and over again one name keeps propping up: the investment firm Lazard.

Who are these guys? Well, they are an investment bank. Apparently the connection to PDVSA is via one Matthieu Pigasse, high-end financial celebrity and a ranking member of the caviar gauche, the high society French left wing. Pigasse has been involved with both the Argentine and the Ecuadorean government debt negotiations, and is a frequent guest of both Presidents. His firm was also involved in making millions off of the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers.

This company is slimier than a plate of escargots, but you don’t have to trust me on that – you can read it in the tell-all book!

In all of the stories about Lazard’s involvement with PDVSA, not once has the term “public tender” come up. How did Lazard end up as the underwriters to the fleecing of Venezuela? How much commission are they charging? Who ever said they were the right firm for the job? Hell, not even chavistas like them! Even Jorge Giordani warned us about the mysterious “French” consultants.

As the old saying goes, if it walks like a duck, if it quacks like a duck, then it’s probably a French investment banking firm at the center of a massive web of corruption.

I have to hand it to the Lazard folks. Many people have gutted Venezuela in the last few years, and a few lucky ones continue gutting it, right to the last drop. But few are doing it so surreptitiously and so stylishly as you guys.