[ISN] Brazil accuses U.S. firm of spying
isn at c4i.org
Mon Apr 11 05:24:33 EDT 2005
By Martin Arostegui
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
April 08, 2005
RIO DE JANEIRO -- A leading American consulting company is under
investigation in Brazil on suspicion that it intercepted e-mails and
used wiretaps and other illegal methods to monitor people who now hold
Cabinet positions in the government of President Luiz Inacio Lula da
Kroll Associates Inc. also bribed government and police officials to
obtain confidential information, according to authorities
investigating an industrial espionage scandal, which also involves
U.S. and Italian multinational companies.
Kroll's offices in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro were raided in October
by Federal Police searching for evidence that the world's biggest
private intelligence firm had used illegal monitoring methods.
The purported victims include Cassio Casseb, a former president of
Banco do Brasil, and Luiz Gushiken, who serves as minister of
Kroll, founded in New York in 1972, describes itself on its Web site
as 'the world's leading risk consulting company,' with offices in more
than 60 cities in the United States and abroad.
It boasts that it can 'scrutinize accounting practices and financial
documents; gather and filter electronic evidence for attorneys;
recover lost or damaged data from computers and servers; conduct
in-depth investigations; screen domestic and foreign-born job
candidates; protect individuals and enhance security systems and
It is standard practice in some large corporations to have Kroll
conduct background checks on candidates for top positions. The company
also is reported to have been hired by governments to track down
public funds stolen by the likes of Philippines President Ferdinand
Marcos, Haitian dictator Jean-Claude 'Baby Doc' Duvalier and Iraqi
dictator Saddam Hussein, all of whom have been ousted.
According to the Federal Police, confiscated Kroll documents contain
records of payments to officers of state-run Brazilian savings and
loan institutions and the Sao Paulo city police that are thought to
represent bribes, usually $100 to $200.
Government prosecutors also cite witnesses who say they acted as
intermediaries for Kroll's undercover efforts to obtain account
numbers, banking codes and other secret information.
Spokesmen for Kroll complain that the government is violating judicial
procedure by disclosing evidence prior to a trial and that much of the
information the company is accused of stealing is publicly available
on the Internet.
Kroll was hired by owners of Brazil's telecommunications firm, Brazil
Telecom, to investigate suspected insider trading by business
executives and government officials during a takeover bid by the
Italian communications giant, Telecom Italia.
It was clearly a major operation involving top-level officers of
Kroll's London and New York headquarters. The head of Kroll's Milan,
Italy, office also came to Rio de Janeiro to supervise the
investigation, according to journalists who say they met with him.
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