Countless words have been printed in the last few days about Angela Merkel's reaction to the news that the US government bugged her phone, and President Obama having even been briefed about in 2010 and doing nothing to "halt the operation" by the NSA. In this post Wikileaks and Snowden era we live in, that ever so defining and most useful of politicians' treats -hypocrisy- no longer cuts mustard. For Merkel's "outrage" is just that: utter hypocrisy. To illustrate the point, I shall provide an example that may have escaped Frau Merkel's "public indignation" radar.
The German state owns a company called Bundesdruckerei, which has a long history as a "manufacturer for banknotes, stamps, identity cards, passports, visas, driving licences, and vehicle registration certificates." The company has been both private and state owned throughout its history. Since 2009 it has been owned by the German state. Frau Merkel has been in office since 2005, and has been the leader of one of Germany's largest political parties since 2000. That is, Frau Merkel has had plenty of time to learn about Bundesdruckerei's activities, both locally and around the world. Please bear with me here.
In his infinite wisdom, Hugo Chavez decided one day that Venezuela was to cede to Cuba -a communist regime whose dictators are entirely unaccountable- research, development, provision, control and implementation of a new electronic ID system. The pact signed between Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro was called "CONVENIO INTEGRAL DE COOPERACIÓN CUBA – VENEZUELA" and the legal framework that would govern the agreement for the new ID system ("CONTRATO PARA DESARROLLO DE SOLUCION TECNOLOGICA INTEGRAL") had, as ultimate authority that could resolve arising issues/disputes, Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro:
14.1 Cualquier disputa, controversia o reclamo que se derive de este Contrato o esté relacionado con el mismo, será resuelto primeramente, mediante acuerdo amigable entre los Representantes de Las Partes. En caso de que estos no puedan llegar a acuerdo amistoso, someterán la controversia a los Presidentes de la Comisión Mixta, entendiéndose por tales, el Ministro del Poder Popular para la Energía y Petróleo (MENPET) de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela y la Ministra para la Inversión Extranjera y la Colaboración Económica (MINVEC) de la República de Cuba. Si aún en este caso, dichos Presidentes no pueden llegar a un arreglo, se someterá la controversia a la decisión de los Presidentes de las respectivas Repúblicas, siendo esta la última instancia de decisión.
Cuba designated something called ALBET ("Sociedad Mercantil ALBET Ingeniería y Sistemas" incorporated 7th November 2005), as its representative in the deal. ALBET is not much more than a Cuban-regime front of some IT institute in Cuba. Most certainly not a recognised party in anything to do with the latest developments in electronic ID technology. And so ALBET, lacking the know how, expertise, track record, and capacity to carry out the project, went to market -armed with the $172 million that Venezuela had destined to the project- and requested Bundesdruckerei -at the time a private company- to submit bids for the provision of new electronic IDs, passports (diplomatic and otherwise), and special printers. Bundesdruckerei duly complied with the request, but its representative, a chap called Jörg Baumgartl (a.k.a. Joerg Baumgartl), set up a rather elaborate scheme of proxies that would eventually execute winning bids.
Baumgartl is Bundesdruckerei's Managing Director as well as responsible for international sales. Bundesdruckerei had done deals directly with the Venezuelan government in the past, though in this new iteration, Baumgartl would deal through Billingsley Global Corp. a Panamanian proxy he set up for the purpose. Just why Baumgartl did that is anyone's guess, however it could have well been to spare Bundesdruckerei of any potential issues with US government-imposed trade sanctions with Cuba.
As stated above, in 2009 Bundesdruckerei was acquired by the German state. Despite police raids and scandals about alleged embezzlement of millions by a Panamanian entity, Baumgartl has managed to keep his job. But what's truly shocking -considering new ownership- is Baumgartl's choice of representative for Venezuela.
Readers of this site may remember frequent references to Rafael Nuñez (aka "RaFa"), identified as the man behind the online reputation campaigns of the worst white collar thugs in Venezuela. As shown in communication dated 1 March 2012, Baumgartl has appointed BV Estrategia Reputacional and its subsidiary, Clean Perception, as Bundesdruckerei's commercial representative in Venezuela. That is to say, Frau Merkel's representative in Venezuela is a known and notorious criminal.
But who is this Rafael Nuñez and what credentials has he got for the job? Citing fellow blogger Setty "Núñez used to be known as “RaFa,” a notorious hacker. He was arrested in the US in 2005 for having hacked an Air Force computer four years earlier. He pleaded guilty, was sentenced to time served and deported. His arrest report if you want it."
So this is a convicted felon, imprisoned in the U.S. and subsequently deported with extreme prejudice. Nuñez opened a firm (Clean Perception in association with Ivan Hernandez Vila) that scrubs the reputation of a number of criminals in Venezuela. These range from convicted murderer and terrorist, like Ramiro Helmeyer, to the group accused in a U.S. court of bribery and overbilling for Venezuela's powerplants. His "work" has been the subject of various explosive reports here and at Setty's blog. This hacker is the proverbial fox guarding the hen house. Consider the implications of a man that is actively working for Venezuelan drug traffickers, assassins, utterly corrupt bankers, former government ministers, and dirty contractors, doing business with the Venezuelan state, on Frau Merkel's behalf. In this new capacity Nuñez would have already been given access to critical identification information related to all 29 million Venezuelans.
Despite having been appointed as Venezuela's representative of Bundesdruckerei on 1 March 2012, BV Estrategia Reputacional was incorporated in Curaçao on 9 March 2012 according to registry documents. Nuñez does not hide his association with Bundesdruckerei, in fact he boasts about it.
So next time Frau Merkel is waxing indignant about spying, wiretapping, and hacking, perhaps she should be reminded about "RaFa" Nuñez, her criminal commercial representative in Venezuela.