(BC Strategy Ltd) is a private intelligence agency
based in London, Tel Aviv, and Madrid. The company was founded in 2010 by former
Israeli intelligence officers Dan Zorella
(in Hebrew: דן זורלא) and Avi Yanus
(in Hebrew: אבי ינוס). Its
employees include former members of Israeli intelligence units.
Black Cube provides intelligence, evidence, and
advisory services in multi-jurisdictional legal and white collar crime cases. Black Cube
exposed fraud, bribery, money laundering, corruption and asset dissipation. The company uncovered
high-level corruption in Italy, Panama,
Black Cube’s tactics have resulted in a number of
international controversies. In Romania, two of its employees were convicted of
criminal charges involving harassment and hacking. The firm drew widespread
condemnation for its work surveilling and assisting with efforts to slander the
reputations of women accusing Harvey
Weinstein of sexual violence and journalists reporting on them.
- 1 History
- 1.1 2011 – 2015
- 1.2 2016 – 2017
- 1.3 2018 – present
- 2 International
- 3 See also
- 4 References
- 5 External links
2011 – 2015
Beginning in 2011, Black Cube provided intelligence
services to Vincent Tchenguiz
in a number of cases, including Tchenguiz’s fight against the UK Serious Fraud
Office, following his
arrest as part of the SFO investigation into the collapse of the Icelandic bank
Kaupthing. Black Cube
analysed the network of relationships surrounding the collapse of the bank, and helped
build a successful challenge to the SFO arrests and search warrants, causing
the judge to declare the SFO’s actions unlawful in 2013.
In 2013, Black Cube filed a lawsuit in the UK
against Vincent Tchenguiz for unpaid invoices and breach of contract.
Concurrently, Tchenguiz filed a lawsuit in Israel against Black Cube, alleging
fraudulent invoices, an allegation denied by Black Cube. Both lawsuits were
dropped in a settlement agreement, the details of which are undisclosed.
In 2014, Black Cube were hired by Israeli businessman
Nochi Dankner, to examine a court decision
assigning control of IDB Holding Corp. Ltd. (TASE:IDBH) to Motti Ben Moshe. Black Cube
investigated the sources of capital of Ben Moshe, revealing an ongoing
investigation by German regulatory authorities into Ben Moshe’s company
ExtraEnergy, and locating a
witness who held evidence of money laundering and tax evasion by Ben Moshe.
In 2015, Black Cube assisted Taiwanese businessman Nobu Su, owner of the shipping company TMT, in
his efforts to gain permission to appeal a 2014 judgement in favour of
Lakatamia Shipping in which Su
was found personally liable for the amount of almost $47m. Black Cube
delivered intelligence to Su’s legal team showing that 20% of the judgement
amount was due to a company called Slagen Shipping, which had ceased operations
at the time of the establishment of the claim, thereby rendering it unable to
act as a claimant, both reducing the quantum of the judgement significantly,
and causing the appeal to be granted.
2016 – 2017
In April 2016, two of the company employees were
arrested, and later convicted, in Bucharest on suspicions of spying, phishing,
and cyberharassing the chief prosecutor of the
Romanian National Anticorruption Directorate, Laura Codruța Kövesi,
and people close to her. After sentencing, the company
reached an understanding with the Romanian authorities and the two employees
were released and returned to Israel after a few months. At the time of
the arrest, Black Cube denied any wrongdoing, saying that they were working
under contract from the highest political powers in Bucharest and that “all
of Black Cube’s employees follow local law to the letter, and the allegations
against them are unfounded and untrue”.
Black Cube was hired to assist Kfar Giladi Quarries in their highly
publicised dispute with Caeserstone (NASDAQ:CSTE). Black Cube engaged a
Caesarstone engineer in conversation during a group bicycle trip in Kfar Giladi. In the
recording, the engineer contradicted the allegations that were made by
Ceaserstone in the arbitration proceeding with Kfar Giladi. After six years of
deliberations, Judge Boaz Okun ordered Caeserstone to pay more than $14m as
compensation to Kfar Giladi.
In 2016, Black Cube was involved in exposing
bribery and corruption in a set of Italian arbitrations between AmTrust (NASDAQ:AFSI)
and an Italian named Antonio Somma totalling €2bn. Somma admitted
to the company’s undercover agents that he could control the arbitration panels, and that he
had an agreement to pay the chair of the arbitration panel 10% of any money
they awarded him. Following
Black Cube’s findings, the arbitrator was dismissed and in July 2016, the two
sides reached a settlement on the total of 60 million euros instead of the
initial 2 billion euro claim.
In 2016, Black Cube was hired by Rami Levy, the
owner of Rami Levy Chain Stores Hashikma Marketing (TASE:RMLI) who is
considered a champion of low prices in Israel, to verify his
suspicions that he was being targeted by a rival chain in a negative media
campaign. Black Cube provided Levy with evidence that the PR agent who worked
for Levy’s competitor, Victory supermarket chain, exposed the negative campaign
that they carried out aimed at damaging Levy’s public reputation. Levy later
used those materials in a lawsuit against his competitor.
In 2016, Alstom and Afcon
(TASE:AFHL) hired Black Cube’s services in order to assist them with their
dispute against the Israel Railways’ electrification bid, which the Spanish
company SEMI won. Black Cube presented recordings of officials from the Israel
Railway discussing malfunctions that occurred in the bid. Based on these
findings, in January 2018, the Superior Court in Israel issued an agreement of
compromise according to which the work on the railway will be divided between
all three of the companies and that Black Cube’s clients’ work will be priced
at 580 million NIS, after they originally lost the bid.
In 2017, Gefen Biomed (TASE:GEFEN) filed a NIS 60
million lawsuit which claims that entrepreneurs Moshe (Mori) Arkin and others
deliberately misled or deceived minority shareholders in biomed company cCam
Biotherapeutics. The lawsuit is based on evidence collected by Black Cube,
which conducted recorded interviews with key figures in cCam that prove a
deliberate and systematic attempt to conceal exit talks with Merck for up to $625 million.
In November 2017, Ronan
Farrow reported in The New Yorker that film executive Harvey Weinstein hired Black Cube in order to
stop the publication of the abuse allegations against him. Using false
identities, private investigators from Black Cube tracked and met journalists
and actresses, in particular Rose McGowan, who
later publicly accused Weinstein of rape. Over the course of a year, Weinstein
had Black Cube and other agencies “target, or collect information on,
dozens of individuals, and compile psychological profiles that sometimes
focused on their personal or sexual histories.” One agent,
Stella Penn Pechanac, used an alias to pose as a women’s rights supporter
interested in hiring McGowan for a formal
dinner speech, enabling
her to secretly record conversations with the actress. Black Cube apologized for
taking the case in November 2017. As of 2019, Manhattan federal
prosecutors investigating Weinstein were probing into the firm’s
activities on his behalf; and McGowan’s
separate racketeering suit against it remained active. During
Weinstein’s 2020 trial for assault in Manhattan, Black Cube’s spying on behalf
of Weinstein became entered into the prosecutory evidence in January.
In November 2017, Black Cube set up a fake
recruitment firm, and flew an employee and a former employee of a hedge fund
company to London for fake job interviews, in order to gain proprietary
information about the hedge fund, according to The New York Times. Black Cube
refused to comment. In New York State, private investigators are required to be
licensed, but the Times couldn’t find a record of a license for Black Cube or
2018 – present
In March 2018, Black Cube and Cambridge Analytica each denied a
Cambridge Analytica ex-employee Christopher
Wylie‘s statement that the company had hired Black Cube’s services.
In April 2018, Brittany Kaiser,
the former director of business development for SCL Group,
the parent company of Cambridge Analytica affirmed the denials and testified in
front of the British Parliament that Black Cube is not the company with which
they worked. Shortly after, Wylie testified
before the US Senate Judiciary Committee, where he recanted his previous
statements and denied that Black Cube was involved. Former CEO of
Cambridge Analytica Alexander Nix also
testified in front of British Parliament and denied working with Black Cube.
In May 2018, Black Cube was accused of using false
identities to seek damaging information about former Obama administration
officials and help the Trump administration undermine the Iran nuclear deal. Black Cube has
responded by stating that it has no relation to the Trump administration, to
Trump aides, or to the Iran nuclear deal. In August
New Yorker connected Black Cube’s research to a memo circulated
in the Trump White House in early 2017 alleging former Obama officials
‘conspired with reporters’ “to undermine President Trump’s foreign
policy” in hopes of saving Obamacare and the
Iran nuclear deal. In October
2018, Haaretz newspaper revealed that Black
Cube’s activities were aimed at tracking transfers of Iranian funds and assets
in order to forfeiture them, following US court rulings against Iran in favor
of victims of terror attacks. Furthermore, it was published that the goal of
the intelligence gathering was tracing unknown Iranian assets and revealing
Obama’s administration collaboration with Iran, in violation of US or
international law, in order to find other possible parties to sue such as
In 2018, Black Cube was hired by Bank Hapoalim (TASE: POLI)
to trace the assets of Motti Zisser, who left behind a high debt to the bank.
Black Cube provided intelligence of Zisser having a number of assets in Europe
which were transferred from him to his son David through a sophisticated
network of shell companies. As a result of the intelligence gathered by Black
Cube, Bank Hapoalim was granted an injunction that applied an effective freeze
on all the companies of the Zisser Family. At the end of a legal process, the
two parties came to a settlement in February 2018, according to which Zisser’s
heirs would pay nearly 95 million NIS to Bank Hapoalim.
In 2019, Black Cube uncovered proof of bribery and
corruption (previously in Italy) between lawyer Janio Lescure of Panama and
various judges and magistrates in the country, including Judge Oydén Ortega of
the Supreme Court. Black Cube was able to procure
audios of Lescure admitting his close relationships with judges, state
officials, and mafiosos as well as his ability to control court verdicts,
bypass inspections of illegal activities, and avoiding paying taxes.
In 2019, Black Cube exposed Eliezer Fishman’s
hidden assets valued at around 100 million euros. Fishman, once considered one
of Israel’s wealthiest businessmen, was declared bankrupt
in 2016. Black Cube discovered that Fishman had hidden assets and properties
across Europe, mainly Germany,
through legal entities, trustees, and representatives.
Also in 2019, it was revealed that Black Cube recorded
evidence of bribery and corruption of senior officials at Mexico’s Petróleos Mexicanos,
known as Pemex. The recordings
were submitted as part of a lawsuit filed in 2018 by Oro Negro, a Mexican oil-field drilling company, claiming that Pemex
drove Oro Negro into bankruptcy when
the company refused to pay bribes. Black Cube recordings offer evidence of
long-standing corruption in Mexico’s largest state enterprise, in all levels of
Pemex management up to the CEO and board. This evidence
was additionally presented to the DOJ in their investigation into Pemex.
On 5 April 2019 the Senate Intelligence Committee sent
a letter to Walter Soriano, the owner of USG Security Limited based in Britain
and Israel, for his communication with Paul
Manafort, Michael Flynn, Psy-Group, Wikistrat,
Orbis Business Intelligence
(a firm co-founded by Christopher
Steele), and Black Cube. In response, the company denied
any connection and stated that “neither they nor anyone acting on their behalf
has ever had any communication or collaboration with Walter Soriano or anyone
on his behalf.”
In May 2020, Black Cube submitted on behalf of Beny Steinmetz evidence to a New York court
that the Brazilian company Vale SA withheld
critical information concerning a mining license in Guinea obtained by
Steinmetz. During a four-month operation,
Black Cube gathered recordings with Vale senior executives, who admitted that
Vale assumed the mining license was obtained illegally when they entered into
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