Black Cube (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, and Mexico.
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 Advisory Board
- 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 B.C. Strategy.
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 2018, The 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 banks.
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 the contract.
International Advisory Board
- Meir Dagan (Deceased) – Former head of Mossad, Honorary President of the Board.
- Efraim Halevy – Former head of Mossad, headed the National Security Council and the Hebrew University Center for Strategic Studies.
- Yohanan Danino – Former Israeli Police Commissioner, served as Chairman of Migdal Insurance Group.
- Major General Giora Eiland – Former head of the Israeli National Security Council, headed the IDF’s Operation Branch and IDF’s Planning Branch.
- Robert Amaee – Former Head of Anti-Corruption, Proceeds of Crime and International Assistance at the Serious Fraud Office (SFO).
- Professor Asher Tishler – President of the College of Management Academic Studies
- Brigadier General Mati Leshem – Recipient of the 1997 Israel Defence Prize
- Paul Reyniers – Former partner at Price Waterhouse and author of GARP (Generally Accepted Risk Principles)
- Itiel Maayan – Member of Microsoft‘s Customer Advisory Board
- Lieutenant Colonel Golan Malka – Former Vice President Marketing and Business Development of NICE Systems
- “Contact Us | Black Cube”. www.blackcube.com/contact/. Retrieved 16 September 2016.
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