Claim: Firm Hired by BuzzFeed to Verify Steele Dossier Has Checkered Past in Venezuela
A Venezuelan journalist who was targeted and smeared by Fusion GPS says he was also targeted by FTI Consulting, the firm BuzzFeed has hired to verify allegations in the anti-Trump Steele dossier.
FTI Consulting is a large multinational business advisory firm headquartered in Washington, D.C., that specializes in "corporate finance and restructuring, economic consulting, forensic and litigation consulting, strategic communications and technology."
Anthony Ferrante, a former FBI and NSA cybersecurity official, has been leading the investigation for months, Foreign Policy reported last month, citing four sources. According to The Hill, Ferrante's team has been "tracking down documents and conducting interviews in an effort to verify certain claims" in the salacious and unverified dossier.
Alek Boyd, a London-based investigative journalist who covers large-scale corruption in Venezuela, claims that FTI Consulting has worked for many thuggish organizations in the South American kleptocracy. When he found out that FTI was working to corroborate British spy Christopher Steele's findings in the "dodgy dossier," he predicted that "no corroboration will be forthcoming."
Boyd told PJ Media that FTI has worked for some of the "worst scum of Venezuela. We’re talking kingpins, thugs behind assassinations attempts, and corruption of billions of dollars."
He told Fox News in January that Fusion GPS labeled him a “pedophile,” “extortionist” and “drug trafficker” after he criticized Derwick Associates, a crooked power company with close ties to the Venezuelan government. Derwick Associates allegedly sold faulty electric plants in Venezuela, and skimmed nearly a billion dollars from corrupt contracts with the late Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez.
According to Boyd, his flat in London was broken into and his laptops stolen. "Pictures of my children were left along with threatening messages of sexual abuse," Boyd said, adding that he believed that Fusion GPS "had a hand in doing all that." British police records confirm that Boyd reported a break-in with two laptops stolen from his London apartment in November 2014.
Boyd said that "a lot of information and a lot of evidence about corruption and scandals in Venezuela that I’ve been compiling throughout the years” were on those computers.
The journalist also has a history with FTI Consulting, which he says was also retained by Derwick.
In October of 2012, Boyd says he "received a phone call from Maria Jose Tobar, Director / Global Risk and Investigations Practice at FTI Consulting in Miami."
Tobar, posing as a potential client, asked me a few questions about my day job -an online wine retailer- and wanted to know my address, so that she could send me stuff. What Tobar couldn't have known is that her disingenuous phone call would trigger an investigation on my part, which exposed her and her rather amateurish tactics. To this day it remains unknown to me just why Tobar -probably acting on orders from an FTI Consulting client in Venezuela now embroiled in a powerplant scandal involving bribery - wanted my address. But it piqued my interest, which prompted me to do even more research about her firm.
Boyd discovered that FTI Consulting’s Latin American Office has taken on some very "shady" Venezuelan clients over the years, including a government official who was designated a FARC narco-terrorist by the U.S. Dept. of the Treasury in 2008.
FTI Consulting’s Latin America division has done work for Rafael Sarria [see here and here], Moris Beracha [see here], Alejandro Andrade [see here and here], Ricardo Fernandez Barrueco [see here and here], Derwick Associates [see here] and Hugo Carvajal [see here]. These names may appear as innocuous Hispanic businessmen. In reality they include a man designated as a “Drug Kingpin” by the U.S. Department of Justice; a former “treasurer” of the government of Venezuela (who magically surfaced in South Florida spending hundreds of millions of dollars); a former parking lot attendant who claims to have made billions of dollars fishing for tuna in 6 years, and a number of financiers with dubious reputations. All of them have retained FTI Consulting for “due diligence.” In essence to clean up their reputations and discredit anyone who poses a threat to their storybook rags to riches tales. Their target lists include journalists, politicians, and whistleblowers.
Boyd dscribed FTI Consulting's Venezuelan clients as a "who's who of that country's most corrupt Boligarchs."
Not one of the names mentioned above would pass a rudimentary KYC [know your client] process. And open source links, or even basic googling reveals none of them pass the smell test. The reported activities of some of Holder’s Venezuelan clients go beyond mere money laundering of misappropriation of public funds: they include drug trafficking, assassinations, and aiding and abetting terrorism.
Now we can add BuzzFeed to FTI Consulting's list of shady clientele.
"How can an alleged business intelligence firm, managed by former intelligence experts, work for such clients, and try to censor / silence work like mine?" Boyd asked in a comment to PJ Media.
Boyd asked BuzzFeed for comment on Twitter, but so far, it has not responded.