China-based Australian businessman charged with espionage

ASIO AustraliaAN AUSTRALIAN BUSINESSMAN, WHO has worked in China for over two decades, is facing up to 15 years in prison for allegedly selling secrets to two foreign intelligence officers. The businessman, Alexander Csergo, 55, grew up in Sydney, but moved to China in 2002 and currently works for a digital solutions firm in Shanghai. According to reports, Csergo describes himself on social media as a “business strategist” and an “operational transformation specialist”.

Csergo was arrested by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) on Friday afternoon at his family home in the eastern Sydney suburb of Bondi. According to a press release, Csergo’s arrest resulted from an investigation by the Counter Foreign Interference Taskforce (CFITF), aa joint counterintelligence body led by the AFP and the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. Established in 2021, the CFITF brings together counterintelligence units from across Australia’s federal government sectors in order to discover, disrupt and investigate foreign interference activity.

Australian government prosecutors claim that representatives of a foreign think-tank approached Csergo on social media while he was overseas —presumably in China. The think-tank representatives arranged for Csergo to come in contact with two individuals, calling themselves “Evelyn” and “Ken”. They offered to pay Csergo in return for reports that contained “information about Australian defence, economic and national security arrangements, as well as matters relating to other countries”.

Csergo allegedly agreed to provide the requested services and proceeded to compile a number of reports for the think-tank between February 2021 and April 14 of this year. The Australian government alleges that “Evelyn” and “Ken” are in fact emploees of a foreign intelligence service, which has not yet been publicly identified in Australian government press releases. The Australian government also claims that these individuals may have tried to recruit other Australians, or foreign citizens living in Australia.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 17 April 2023 | Permalink

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