Venezuelan Central Bank Files Complaint Against Dolar Today In The US

October 24, 2015
View this document on Scribd

Thanks to the generosity of my readers, three of which sent me last night the document above, I managed to read the suit that the Venezuelan Central Bank filed against Dolar Today LLC, a Delaware company which supposedly owns the homonymous website and its related apps and channels.

I am no lawyer, but I did find this document remarkable in many ways. Perhaps the most ironic thing to me is that the Venezuelan Government via its puppet Central Bank (which the complaint says is independent), wants to use the US Justice system, daily criticized as unfair and manipulated by them, as a way to exert pressure on this webpage and even more audaciously, to seek “damages” from them.

But I am sure my followers will certainly enjoy the reading of this document full of the same crap that the Government spews out on a daily basis, this time translated into English and presented in legalese. And I am sure that the only intent of the complaint is or was to intimidate those involved with the website and its activities. Here I will refer to what I found ironic, hilarious, stupid, and enjoyable, without intending to be comprehensive. I invite my readers to add their own in the comments for everyone’s enjoyment.

To begin with, the only possible objective of this suit is to harass, intimidate and otherwise distract the owners of the Dolar Today webpages with the complaint. They will have to hire lawyers, spend money, go to deposition and the like.

The second interesting thing, to avoid saying laughable, is that says that Dolar Today is violating Article 1185 of Venezuela’s Commercial Code. That may well be, but the Judges in Delaware could care less about this violation, given that that is the law of the land in Venezuela, but certainly not in the US nor Delaware.

But it has to be laughable to argue that a webpage has created a form of cyber terrorism that has “wreaked, economic and reputational harm on the Venezuelan Central Bank by impeding its ability to manage the Republic’s economy and foreign exchange system.” by “Creating the false impression that the Central Bank and the Republic are incapable of managing Venezuela’s economy.”

Jeez, if a simple quote of a rate can do that and the Government and the Central Bank can do nothing about it, it would seem to me that the problem is not what the webpage did, but how clueless were the Government’s actions in trying to stop it. In fact, most Venezuelans remember multiple announcements suggesting that the Government was ready to “pulverize” the black market rate, but none of the plans were successful and in many cases people wondered what happened to them.

And you have to laugh at statements such as “Much of the world, including numerous members of the International Monetary Fund (“IMF”), engage in something that is both literally and figuratively quite foreign to the United States: the multiple exchange rate system.”

I would love to hear Nelson Merentes tell me the names of these “numerous” countries, assuming that given that he is a Mathematician, he will not argue that numerous means two or three countries. In fact the word numerous means “many” or “great in number”, which is simply false.

And you really have to be a cynic to suggest that the inflation rate in Venezuela is high simply because “it is an expected consequence of the Republic’s policies to promote social inclusion of the poor and economic growth”, when inflation is the worst possible indirect tax on the poor and those not included socially.

And since I am nitpicking, let me take advantage of it by noting that it is not true, as it says in numeral #26 and #43 of the complaint, that Venezuelans trade at the parallel or black rate via exchange houses. Such trades are not allowed at exchange houses and Venezuelans only can do these transactions privately.

Additionally, in the second graph of the complaint, the lawyers show a graph in which the parallel rate closely follows the implicit rate and only starting in October 2014 did the two diverge. In fact, had the Government made a long term plot of that, including the period before the “swap” market was shut down in May 2010, it would have shown that factors of two differences between the two have occurred before. Curiously, this widening of the difference between the two began taking place when oil prices began to drop and the Government no longer had “excess” funds to feed the black market, as an article in this week’s Wall Street Journal suggested was done via PDVSA in order to enrich a few individuals.

But the bottom line is, that the BCV and its lawyers will have to “prove” first, that Dolar Today actually manipulated the rate it published and second, that it used that information to benefit financially, something that I find extremely difficult to show. In the US, in the process of discovery, you have to support your accusations and if what you have is flimsy, the Judge is likely to throw at the case at the earliest stages of the process.

Simply put, how can they prove there was “wire fraud” or that the rate was set in order to to obtain a profit? A profit with respect to what?

And you have to love the fact that a Government that has shut down any possibility of a market for the parallel rate of exchange wold argue that “the DT Rate does not reflect any actual exchange market”. Of course, there are none allowed in Venezuela! The only “market” that exists is the border market in Colombia, which Dolar Today claims to use to set its rate.

In fact, between 2003 and 2010 the “swap” market existed and was legal and one could argue that it gave the rate transparency and liquidity, but it was the actions by the Government to shut it down that created the distortions that the BCV wants now to blame Dolar Today for.

I am also not so sure that you can prove a rate is “fraudulent” as the complaint charges. Even if the BCV could prove there was a transaction, it would prove that someone was willing to pay a particular rate and thus it would be hard to argue it was fraudulent. That is precisely what I tell people that say that the rate is being manipulated: Find me someone that sells them cheaper than that…or you sell it to me, since you can find it cheaper.

I have found no one that wold take me up on it.

I will stop at this, enjoy the reading. But if I could, I would suggest this to the Government: Allow a legal market to function for the parallel rate, I would bet that in time that market would find an equilibrium rate not too far or higher from where it is today. Because in the end that rate reflects the same lack of foreign currency which is causing causing lines, shortages and inflation. And it is the stubbornness of the Government to adjust and use economic theory that has created the distortions, including the anguish, pain and deaths of the thousands of people who can not get medicines or adequate medical care.

But the irresponsible regime of Nicolas Maduro wants to blame a web page…

(Maybe the complaint should be turned around and some Venezuelans should sue the Central Bank for the same reasons, but saying that by not following its Constitutional mandate of independence and monetary stability, it has caused harm on the Venezuelan people)


58 Responses to “Venezuelan Central Bank Files Complaint Against Dolar Today In The US”

  1. Roy Says:

    The whole lawsuit is nothing more than a propaganda ploy. A month from now, you will be asking “Whatever happened with that lawsuit against DT?”, and all the answer you will get will be shrugs.

    • Tony Tan Keng Yam Says:

      Correct. But I would counter-sue the crap out of banco central next year. For International legal reasons many have specified here.

    • Roy Says:

      I just re-thought what I said above. It is a propaganda ploy, but with a deeper goal than just the initial publicity. What they are expecting is a motion to dismiss, which will be quickly granted. Then, they will use that to claim that the U.S. courts are not independent and that their decisions are ordered by the executive branch. Then, every time the U.S. or someone else criticizes Venezuela for the lack of judiciary independence, they will throw out the U.S. Court’s quick decision to dismiss their case as evidence that “You are accusing us of that which you are guilty.”, thus deflecting the criticism against themselves. Note that this action was taken shortly after the Franklin Nieves defection.

      • ira Says:

        I really doubt there’s any connection, especially since it’s such a weak one.

        Also, I think the lawsuit was pre-Nieves anyway, but I’m just going on memory.

        • Roy Says:

          Perhaps I am overthinking it, but I do recall that the threat of the lawsuit came right after Nieves’ defection.

  2. Not Criminally Responsible Says:

    Anything further on the 20,000 Syrian refugees?

  3. Ira Says:

    Come on, Miguel! The last few days have warranted a ton of new articles here!

    Maduro claiming he won’t hand over revolution, lawsuit against U.S. because of sanctioned VZ officials, Brazil pulling out of election monitoring, and the one most interesting to me:


    Is this guy just full of shit and trying to save his own skin…or putting Leopoldo’s trial aside, does the totality of his Chavismo career show him to NOT be goose-stepping Chavista?

    A Miami exile group is claiming the former, but so far, I haven’t found shit about what this guy did throughout his legal career, except for Leopoldo.

    • Well, I was in Caracas too busy to write, but I really have little to add. Maduros threats are not new, the lawsuiit is noise and Nieves, I have been waiting to see if he has any documents to prove what he says, until then, little I can say

    • rr Says:

      Ira, things will get heated due to the economy and future U.S. sanctions and unsealing of additional narcotics indictments. However, nobody is going anwhere. These folks are playing for keeps. If they want a fight, they will get it.

      • Ira Says:

        The narcotics indictments, as valid as they may be, is going to be perceived as a smokescreen and validation of anti-gringoism by many,

        Just an excuse to attack Chavismo, and they will point to Panama and Noriega as “evidence.” It’s a PR game, and although of course indictments have to go through, what’s it going to accomplish?

        There are enough other reasons to hang these scumbags from lampposts.

  4. […] a la vez “hilaridad e indignación” (el documento puede consultarse en esta dirección, entre otras cosas porque en el mismo se […]

  5. Coriolis Effect Says:

    All I can say are 3 words – Freedom of Speech. Ok, I can add 4 more – Freedom of the Press. 7 words Maduro’s ilk do not understand.

  6. […] e indignación” (el documento puede consultarse en esta dirección, entre otras cosas porque en el mismo se […]

  7. […] a la vez “hilaridad e indignación” (el documento puede consultarse en esta dirección, entre otras cosas porque en el mismo se […]

  8. M Rubio Says:

    So Maduro & Co has hired that famous law firm, Duey, Cheatum & Howe. It’s impossible to parody these assclowns.

  9. Paul Says:

    Interesting but has DT stopped reporting current rate information? Looks like it has not moved from 820 since report of the lawsuit.

    • IslandCanuck Says:

      It finally changed yesterday but very strange results.

      It went up in the late afternoon & then down again last night.

  10. Salesman Says:

    “wants to blame a web page…”

    Hillary tried to blame a Youtube video for a terrorist attack.

    It appears to be a common mental illness among leaders of a certain political persuasion.

  11. Autobot Says:

    This was like that time when I read that gonorrea was asking people to pay them in dollars to help them “circumvent the media censorship”

    The laughable stupidity of chaburrismo in action.

  12. Tony Tan Keng Yam Says:

    Many here seem to be unaware of the fundamental differences between LLC Companies and various types of US Corporations. Crucial, huge differences, in this case.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if a couple big law firms jumped at the opportunity to counter-sue the hell out of SPB.. Beyond ridiculous, almost laughable, this is clearly frivolous and defamatory, and should end up in a huge undercover “settlement” for the present defendants.

  13. Drunk Says:

    The first thing dolratoday needs to do is get lawyers to request that the ownership and management of the website have their identifications protected to protect their families from retaliation in Venezuela.

    That is the purpose of this lawsuit.
    Venezuela simply wants to threaten their families.
    That may require the help of the US state department to convince a judge that these identities should remain anonymous.

    • I think a simple motion to dismiss by Dolar Today LLC should do.

    • Steven/Setty Says:

      Their names are on the case. Vivas’s name was on the US PTO application. There’s no anonymity now.

      • Mike Says:

        Vivas’s name in the US PTO application proves NOTHING. Anyone can e-file an application and hell even use Barack Obama as the contact name.

        The ONLY way they can prove they OWN DolarToday is by the process of discovery, which (if the DolarToday owners move quickly) can be prevented by discussing the case with the US Department of state to protect their real identities and have the judge consider that in a motion to dismiss.

        To me, this is just DolarToday trolling the Venezuelan goverment in the most incredible clever and imaginative way EVER, they basically planted the evidence for the government and two dumb journalists to follow AND THEY DID!!

        Get ready for the show, because SPB will get their asses sued as this is clearly frivolous and defamatory, this is going to backfire just before elections making the entire venezuelan government look stupid!

        • Steven/Setty Says:

          Oh ok, you can type in all capital letters, I guess that means you’re right. Never mind me.

          • Drunk Says:

            Lets let the legal document itself tell you what they are after:

            They are claiming dolartoday is in violation of the RICO Act.

            5. with the active participation of as yet unknown co-conspirators

            33. With funding from unnamed co-

            35 they agreed and conspired to
            deliberately manipulate the DT Rate
            : Armed with advance knowledge of what the DT Rate would be (because they were setting it
            Defendants are deliberately
            and effectively
            a market

            38 The Central Bank is informed and believes and therefore alleges that on any given day, the average exchange rate charged by Cúcuta exchange houses is magnitudes less

            45 Defendants have engaged in wire fraud as a component of a racketeering enterprise to effectuate a fraudulent scheme

            The RICO Persons
            46. The Individual Defendants, together with the active participation of as yet unknown co-
            conspirators (collectively the “RICO Persons”


            It seems Venezuela wishes a criminal investigation in the US (if you believe their court filings).
            At the very least, they wish to know who the unnamed persons are.

            • pitiyanqui Says:

              RICO is usually appended to a civil fraud claim to specifically snag the triple damages.

              The BCV faces a real serious problem here, however: proving that DT’s activity and publishing of the black market rate was a proximate cause to the BCV’s problems. As I noted above, the BCV has largely been a proximate cause of its own problems. Example: The BCV claims that its ability to profit from seigniorage has been undermined by DT; however, DT could reasonably argue that the increase in M2 by the BCV has had a greater impact than any activity on DTs part, particularly since DT cannot issue currency. This same reasoning could be used to undermine the BCV’s inflation claim. Pretty much any economist and most people of common sense would understand that, and I’m pretty sure a saavy jury would as well. The RICO is just a smoke screen.

              The government of Venezuela/BCV knows there isn’t a basis for a criminal case, otherwise they would be pushing in that direction.

              I think this is far more likely to snag the John Does, if any, that reside still in Venezuela, or have family there.

  14. Red Flowers Says:

    Telling the truth is always a threat to totalitarian societies. The Chavistas have left so much poop in the road that they just can’t cover it up with propaganda and scapegoating anymore. The poop pile is bigger than they are.

  15. Glenn Says:

    If the addresses of the DT owners is accurate, they certainly don’t live like anyone that has been financially enriched by anything. As a matter of fact, these residences are exceptionally modest.

  16. I’m not a lawyer but I have supported legal teams involved in large civil lawsuits. I think DT can follow two routes:

    1. File a motion to dismiss. This will probably be conceded because the law suit is baseless.

    2. They can take the case and file a motion for discovery, asking the court to order the Venezuelan Central Bank to release the information it has relevant to the case. This will include the financial data backing up the bank’s claim that DTs rate is bogus.

    Number 2 will lead to several years’ delay. I assume there will be law firms willing to take the case just for the exposure. The media coverage is battering the Maduro regime, this is a lose-lose move for them.

  17. Steven/Setty Says:

    I love to hear the BCV accusing people of making money off currency manipulation. I suppose it was DolarToday who front-ran the exchange-rate manipulations by BCV, PDVSA and Venezuela’s treasury? Yes, I’m sure that a retired general in Alabama knew exactly when Venezuela was going to sell dollar bonds and structured notes into the market. Oh wait…

  18. Ira Says:

    Come on:

    We have serious allegations into Ramirez and PDVSA improprieties and illegalities.

    Nieves defects.

    Brazil pulls out of monitoring the Dec. 6 elections, because they know they’re going to cheat by their non-cooperation to this point.

    Plus additional sanctions, and indictments, against other VZ officials.

    If this dolar website didn’t exist, they would indict the producers of Sesame Street for waging a war against the revolution.

    • .5mt Says:

      Cookie Monster has the numbers and your address..

      • Ira Says:

        I trust Cookie Monster’s integrity more than these chavista scumbags.

        And I’ve decided that these chavista scumbags don’t deserve a capital “c,” so this is how I will continue to write it.

  19. Morpheous Says:

    I don’t know about law and complaints but I imagine that the current authorities of the Banco Central de Venezuela (BCV) will loose the case. But of course, they don’t care too much because the BCV (not Nelson Merentes or Maduro) would have to actually pay for the lawyer’s fees of Dolartoday (am I correct?) in addition to the money (I wonder how much) that the BCV is already paying to Squire Patton Boggs.

    Notice that I am making a difference between the BCV (a 75 year old institution) and its current president and directors. Of course, not all people see it that way, and the BCV’s reputation and credibility will continue to fall further. So, not only the complaint is a huge disgrace for Venezuela and will cost a lot of hard currency from public funds (in a moment where people need it most), but it also causes a lot of damage to the BCV as an extremely important institution of the country.

    I wonder whether some day Maduro, Diosdado, Merentes, etc. will pay for their crimes.

  20. Daveed Says:

    Holy cow, it appears this is the same law firm that tried to sue Chevron in the Ecuador Texaco case:

  21. Tony Tan Keng Yam Says:

    Would love to see a David vs. Goliath fight here against SPB. Countersuit for frivolous lawsuit and defamation.

    Chevron just beat the hell out of them:

    “Patton Boggs was sued for damages by Chevron with respect to its activities since Spring 2010 on behalf of Burford Capital and other beneficiaries of an $18 billion judgment obtained by plaintiffs in Ecuador with respect to environmental and health damages resulting from the actions of Texaco, its predecessor, in the Lago Agrio oil field. The action against Patton Boggs was part of litigation that had been in progress for at least 20 years in a number of national and international venues and on which Chevron was estimated to spend $250 million a year.[29] Patton Boggs agreed to a settlement in the Chevron litigation, and two partners involved in the litigation left the firm, shortly prior to its merger with Squire Sanders, although an ethical claim filed against the firm shortly before the merger was left outstanding.[30]”

  22. Tony Tan Keng Yam Says:

    “To begin with, the only possible objective of this suit is to harass..” yes, but also to feed the propaganda machine before elections, They could have done this against dolaltudey years ago.

    To me, more than harassment to the owners (many good buddy-lawyers will represent Gustavo, Ivan, Enrique, or Guilermo.. for friendship or fame more than money) it’s to feed the “Economic War” phantasmagorical fog machine, to distract, create more hate, same ole same ole..

    Aside from that of course it’s laughable, classic Roman Circus. The Delaware Judge and attorneys will be laughing their arses off during coffee breaks. To begin with, it’s as if the Chabestia Bco Central lawyers, let alone Masburro/Cabello no tienen NPI of what n LLC means in the USA. Dolar Tudey’s owners are untouchable here, heck, they could counter-sue effectively for character defamation and win, if the Delaware Court circuits are clean. LLC must mean “Incolpolados” in petare..

  23. Dr. Faustus Says:

    First, I thought Squire Patton Boggs was a DC law firm. Here they are listed as coming out of LA., but filed in a Delaware courtroom. Strange. Second, aren’t these people, the attorney’s, like, embarrassed to be part of something like THIS? If they are low enough to file something like this, what won’t they do? (for money) My God, how humiliating…

    • moctavio Says:

      They will get paid, that’s what matters. They get paid with this and many other suits. I have discovered “principles” is not something that many people have.

    • Tony Tan Keng Yam Says:

      They’re big, they’re from Ohio, and they’re freaking lawyers. For PDVSA cash they’ll sue their own mothers and enjoy the laughs and added fame.

    • RobertoN Says:

      Nothing but upside for SQP. They are on retainer for chrissakes!

    • pitiyanqui Says:

      As a foreign entity, the BCV has to file in the jurisdiction where the defending entity theoretically does business, which as a Delaware Corp. makes it Delaware. This is not unusual as Delaware has notably lax incorporation rules, which is why many companies are inc’d there.

      Note that the attorneys filing the complaint are local and subbed out under SPB, as apparently there are no SPB attorneys (or at least the ones assigned to this case) licensed to practice in Delaware. SPB, as a “national” law/lobbying firm, would be expected to have a couple of offices in major cities, typically on both coasts. My guess is that this was passed down to some junior partner or associate…especially given the citations on currency controls from the 80s and the lack of financial fluency in the suit. There is a couple of gaffes, one of which would undo the suit, in the filing.

      Amatuerish, I would expect a better effort from SPB. This looks like a combo SLAPP and shakedown. They want to inconvenience the three defendants and dig throught their financials. Moreover, this looks like they want to root out the other John Does and see if they can intimidate them or snag them in VZLA. I am sure the government would love to catch any helpers that exist in Venezuela.

      • pitiyanqui Says:

        Skipping over the (non) availability of first two exchange rates, the government asserts that dollars are available to anyone wishing to bid upon them.

        From paragraph 24. March 2014 saw the establishment of a new third tier of the Republic’s foreign exchange system. Originally known as SICAD II, it applied to securities obtained through banks and brokerages as well as currency needs of incoming tourists. In early 2015, this tier of the Republic’s foreign exchange system was replaced with a new system known as SIMADI (the Spanish acronym for Marginal Currency System).SIMADI is a free market currency exchange system that allows individuals and entities to buy and sell foreign currency. For example, now individuals – not just financial institutions – can now bid in bolívares to purchase dollars and vice-versa. Potential sellers can accept these offers or make counteroffers for different amounts. The average of such transactions establishes the SIMADI exchange rate. The current SIMADI rate is about 199 ($1.00 = VEF 199).

        However, the government also asserts that businesses are using the DT rate to calculate their costs.

        From paragraph 41. Defendants’ publication of phony black market rates sabotages Venezuela’s tiered currency exchange rates, distorting and biasing expectations and exacerbating existing inflationary pressures. The DT Site and DT Rate are often consulted by those who want to sell currencies and by some business sectors to calculate the replacement costs of their goods and set their selling prices. As Defendants’ actions accelerate inflation, the inclination of those holding bolívares to exchange them – even at rates less favorable than the Central Bank presently offers – drives them to exchange their currency either for goods or for alternate currencies on the black market.

        Here’s the problem wherein the complaint contradicts itself. Replacement value of goods would come in local currency, the bolivar. Why, then, would a business calculate replacement costs at the DT rate which would make them four times more expensive that the SIMADI rate? If I had to purchase a machine for $10000 (since everything has to be imported, as the complaint notes in paragraph 25 wherein justifying the three tiered rates “Indeed, in an economy that exports little else besides petroleum and imports nearly all other goods (including foodstuffs and equipment necessary for the healthcare of its citizenry), the tiered exchange rates are critical to the Central Bank’s management of the Republic’s economy)”, why would I pick the more expensive DT rate (~8 million BF) against the SIMADI rate (<2 million BF).

        So either the dollars are not widely available through the government, as indicated, and force businesses to price replacement costs at the DT rate, or they are and they would purchase the bolivars through SIMADI at that rate. If the businesses are referring to DT, then there’s a prima facie indication of the former rather than the latter.

        DT’s website has, for sometime, included a graph indicating the monetary supply and its increase. In the past year, the M2 has nearly tripled, which would have a far greater effect on “Exacerbating inflationary pressures that diminish the purchasing power of the Venezuelan people and the Central Bank”. I notice that the chart is excluded from the screen grabs in the complaint. The flooding of the M2 also would cover “Diminishing the value of the Central Bank’s seigniorage for the new currency it prints (or the coins it mints) or that it newly puts into circulation”.

        I’ve never known of a central bank that can’t, through fiscal and/or monetary policy, control the money supply. Of course, the fact that the bank fails to do so is not a consequence of DT, rather, it is a self-inflicted scenario wherein the bank itself is “Creating the false impression that the Central Bank and the Republic are incapable of managing Venezuela’s economy.”

        Another gem from (25): “However unwelcome such inflation would be in the United States, it is an expected consequence of the Republic’s policies to promote social inclusion of the poor and economic growth.” I am curious in what alternative universe it is that inflation promotes economic growth and helps the poor.

        Truth isn’t a complete or absolute defence in this case, so much as it is an awesome defense. If there aren’t any other John Does or questionable activity on the part of the three defendants, take the damn thing to discovery and compel the Central Bank to furnish all the information it has failed to provide for some time. Then bring in one or two economists (I think Dr. Hausmann or Francisco Rodriguez would almost do this pro bono to get access to the MIA bank information. The BCV would have to put up or shut up and it would be far more damaging to the government.

        Sucks for the BCV when a lack of market information leads to high volatility on a relatively free market aspect of the currency. You would think that anyone, having worked in the finance sector, would tell them this….

  24. Tom ODonnell Says:

    If this is a serious ‘complaint’ .. then it reflects some rather strange perceptions of how finance and monetary matters work. But, then, there is the prior case of that little talking bird.

    If it is disingenuous, then I suppose it is, as you say, to intimidate the people who run the site, but, also, it give the propagandistic impression of righteousness, and of legal righteousness in particular to naive followers of chavismo. To wit: “This is illegal, part of a plot against Venezuela — look, the Central Bank even filed a denunciation that is being considered seriously in an American court!”

    You must have seen the YouTube video of the fleeing fiscal who refuses to continue participating in the persecution of Leopoldo Lopez his “superiors” ordered him to implement. It looked quite powerful and heartfelt, sincere to

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