November 29th, 2012
08:33 PM ET

Ukraine duped by con man in billion-dollar gas deal

For years, Kiev and Moscow have been locked in a bitter dispute over the Russian pipeline that runs through Ukraine.

This week, Ukraine decided they had enough and would climb out from under Russia's thumb and sign a deal with a new gas partner:
Gas Natural Fenosa of Spain.

The deal worth over a billion dollars would see Fenosa build a new port terminal on the Black Sea for importing and exporting liquefied natural gas. The signing of the agreement was a major deal. It was even televised!

And attended by the Ukraine's Prime Minister and Jordi Sarda Bonvehi, the representative for Fenosa. It was a huge step towards energy independence for the Ukraine. There was just one problem.

Gas Natural Fenosa doesn't know anything about it. It turns out Jordi Sarda Bonvehi doesn't work for the company. In fact, his real name is unknown. He is, it appears, a con man who was able to get through multiple rounds of negotiations and a televised appearance without detection.

It's pretty impressive, you have to give him that. In fact, on the surface, this seems like a mirror image of one of the most infamous swindles in history, when Victor Lustig posed as a corrupt government official and sold the Eiffel Tower to two different scrap metal companies in 1925.

Back then, Lustig got the money from the sales and additional political bribes. Years later, he even pulled a scam on Al Capone, swindling the gangster out of $5,000. To quote Bill Clinton, "that takes a lot of brass."

And a lot of smarts, which is something that our new con man apparently didn't have enough of. Because it seems the mystery man didn't ask for any of the billion dollars upfront, so he disappears with presumably nothing.

Filed under: Israel • OutFront Outtake
soundoff (One Response)
  1. Joey at Purdue Univ

    Poor Ukranians got caught looking like the Crossroads GPS donors.

    December 1, 2012 at 5:55 am | Reply

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