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News 07 Nov 17

Weinstein Hired Same Firm That Spied on Romania’s Kovesi

American producer Harvey Weinstein hired the same Israeli intelligence company that spied on Romania’s anti-graft chief prosecutor to bury allegations of sexual harassment in 2016, the New Yorker reports.

Ana Maria Touma
BIRN
Bucharest
Anti-graft chief prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi. Photo: inonutzmovie/Wikimedia Commons

Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, who stands accused of sexual harassment and rape by scores of women, hired private investigators from an Israeli firm, whose agents were jailed in Romania for spying on the country’s chief anti-graft prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi, New Yorker magazine reported Tuesday.

New Yorker said that in autumn 2016, Weinstein set out to suppress allegations of sexual harassment, hiring the private security agencies to collect information on the women and journalists involved in trying to expose the allegations.

Reporters say that dozens of pages of documents show that Weinstein hired Kroll – one of the world’s largest corporate intelligence companies  and Black Cube, an enterprise run by former Mossad agents.

Black Cube declined to comment on any work it did for Weinstein. 

In Romania, two Israeli citizens contracted by Black Cube were sentenced in 2017 for cyber-identity theft after they tried to spy on anti-graft chief prosecutor Laura Condruta Kovesi. A third one, Yossi Barkshtein, is still unaccounted for.

Weiner and Geclowicz both pleaded guilty and made deals with the organized crime prosecutors to receive reduced sentences. Geclowitz received a two year and eight months suspended sentence in November 2016 and Weiner received the same sentence in January 2017.

According to organised crime prosecutors, Weiner was an IT expert hired to handle phishing attacks and obtain Kovesi’s email credentials. Geclowitz had previously called family members and friends to obtain email addresses belonging to the anti-graft chief prosecutor.

A former Romanian intelligence officer indicted for corruption in a different case was also arrested and prosecuted for allegedly turning a blind eye to the whole operation.  

Billionaire Benny Steinmetz, political consultant Tal Silberstein and Romanian IT tycoon Sebastian Ghita were also investigated by Romanian organised crime prosecutors in connection with cyber-identity theft.

Romania saw its largest protests since the fall of communism at the beginning of 2017. The social movement was triggered by Social Democrat moves to change justice laws, seen as an attempt to intimidate and curb the independence of anti-graft prosecutors. Renewed protests took place last Sunday in various cities across Romania.

US-based Kroll was hired by the Bank of Moldova to conduct an investigation into fraud which saw a billion dollars disappear from three Moldovan banks in 2014.

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