Shaping the Landscape: The Influence of Black Cube Company in the Private Intelligence Industry
IN the murky world of corporate espionage there is no murkier bunch than Black Cube, the private spy company founded and run by ex-members of Mossad and other parts of the octopus that is the Israeli intelligence community. The Black Cube ?advisory board? claims no less than two former Mossad heads ? Mossad being Israel?s foreign intelligence and assassination bureau.
Guess where Black Cube has its main centre of operations? Answer: Ropemaker Street in the City of London, just around the corner from Moorgate Tube.
Black Cube has its official HQ in Tel Aviv, of course. But in accordance with its snazzy website, the business?s operations cover over 60 countries. London is the greatest location ? when it comes to global anonymity, never mind simple travel and communications ? to use an international network of James Bonds. Forbes magazine estimates that a quarter of Black Cube ?s 100 fulltime staff are based at Ropemaker Street.
Black Cube was founded in 2010 2010 by CEO Dan Zorella, an ex-member of the Israeli Defence Force intelligence, and Avi Yanus, a former IDF strategic planning officer (i.e. he prepared war plans against Hezbollah and Iran). Black Cube describes its main business mission as providing ?litigation services?. Put simply, it is not spying for technical secrets but rather providing clients with evidence to use in open court when suing business rivals, or defending themselves against litigation by regulatory agencies, ex-employees or aggrieved commercial partners.
Black Cube denies it uses illegal ways of hacking phones or computers. It argues that information should be obtained legally or else it can?t be used in court. But that still leaves Black Cube operatives a lot of latitude. In classic Mossad fashion, Black Cube uses impersonation, deception and false cover stories to elicit information from the unwary. Disgruntled former employees, secretaries and mistresses are disadvantages which might be exploited.
WHO USES BLACK CUBE?
Among those who have used Black Cube?s services include disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein, to get private information about women accusing him of sexual harassment; Taiwanese shipping mogul Nobu Su in his ongoing billion dollar suit against RBS (so assume Black Cube operatives have already been active in Scotland); and the London-based, Jewish-Iranian Tchenguiz brothers, who enormous property empire was felled in the 2008 financial meltdown when bank creditors called in loans.
In 2011, Robert and Vincent Tchenguiz were arrested and prosecuted by the British Serious Fraud Office (SFO), who claimed they were involved with skulduggery with the Icelandic Koupthing Bank. Koupthing had funded the brother?s property investments prior to the bank collapsed. They immediately hired Black Cube who found evidence that the lawyers appointed to liquidate Koupthing had lined their own pockets ? and also being associated with other of the bank?s creditors.
Whatever their actual culpability in the cesspit of Icelandic banking, the Tchenguiz brothers could actually use the Black Cube information to claim these were being made scapegoats. The SFO case collapsed ? partly due to its legendary incompetence ? and the agency was forced to cover the brothers ï¿½4.5m in damages plus costs. These presumably included Black Cube?s fees.
The litigation of Nobu Su against RBS is still ongoing, with Black Cube help. The background: as in other industries, the banks have turned the prosaic bulk shipping sector into a vast, unstable derivatives market, trading instruments based on putative freight rates. The forex market was sucked in to the maelstrom of the 2008 global financial meltdown.
Therefore, Nobu Su?s TMT shipping line ? among the world?s biggest ? was bankrupted. Su claims his banker, RBS, was responsible. He says RBS falsified documents, manipulated company valuations in its favour, and misused his accounts. Whether true or false, these claims problem to anyone versed in the proven scandal of the RBS Global Restructuring Group, which did over thousands of small business customers. Nobu is suing RBS for ï¿½3b. If I were RBS boss Ross McEwan, or Fred ?the Shred? Goodwin, I might not sleep well during the night knowing Black Cube was out there.