Luxembourg to further-probe Jean-Claude Juncker’s role in spy scandal

Jean-Claude JunckerA judge in Luxembourg has launched a criminal investigation into whether officials working for the country’s former Prime Minister and current European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, tried to conceal his role in a spy scandal. Until he stepped down from his post in 2013, Juncker, a member of Luxembourg’s Christian Social People’s Party, was Europe’s longest-serving elected leader, having served as Prime Minister since 1995. His resignation from his post came after a parliamentary inquiry found that the country’s State Intelligence Service (SREL) had engaged in serious criminal activity.

The investigation was launched in 2012, after a local newspaper alleged that SREL’s Director, Marco Mille, employed a surreptitious recording device disguised as a watch to record a private conversation with Juncker. This led to revelations that the SREL had carried out countless illegal wiretaps around the country and that it maintained extensive secret files on over 13,000 citizens and residents of Luxembourg. The report also alleged that SREL set up a front company in order to facilitate the transfer of $10 million from a corrupt Russian businessman to a Spanish intelligence operative, as a personal favor to the Russian. The probe also examined, but did not confirm, allegations that the Grand Duke of Luxembourg had been a trusted informant of MI6, Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service. The release of the report prompted calls for Juncker to resign, because, according to Luxembourg law, the Prime Minister is directly responsible for the conduct of the country’s intelligence services, including SREL.

Now Judge Eric Schammo has launched a new criminal investigation into whether government officials working for Mr. Juncker deliberately falsified crucial evidence during the 2012 parliamentary investigation and the subsequent judicial investigation. Government prosecutors believe that a small group of officials falsified evidence in order to protect Mr. Juncker and shield him from any political fallout caused by the scandal. According to reports, former SREL Director Mille, who is currently on trial over his role in the spy affair, has in its possession a recording of a private conversation with Juncker. It is said that the recorded conversation shows that Juncker was aware of and approved the wiretap operation. This evidence was allegedly shared with members of the parliamentary inquiry in 2012. However, according to reports, pro-Juncker officials deleted it from the committee’s files. Juncker denies having had any knowledge of, or having authorized, SREL’s illegal activities.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 13 December 2017 | Permalink

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Germany’s celebrity spy Werner Mauss on trial for multi-million dollar tax evasion

Werner MaussGermany’s most famous living spy is on trial this week for hiding assets totaling $50 million in offshore bank accounts. He claims the money was given to him by unspecified “Western intelligence agencies” for his services. Werner Mauss became widely known in 1997, when he was arrested in Colombia for using a forged passport. He had traveled to the Latin American country to secure the release of a German woman who had been kidnapped by leftist guerrillas. The Colombian authorities eventually released him, following heavy diplomatic pressure from the German government. But the German media began investigating his background, and it soon became apparent that he was working for the German Federal Intelligence Service.

Following his unmasking in 1997, Mauss enjoyed celebrity status in Germany. Published accounts of his exploits claim that he was directly involved in neutralizing over 100 criminal gangs and that his work led to the capture of 2,000 criminals and spies. Mauss also claims to have helped prevent dangerous chemical substances from falling into the hands of terrorist groups, and that he stopped the Italian Mafia from killing Pope Benedict. Last year, however, Mauss saw his celebrity status diminish after the German government charged him with tax evasion. German prosecutors uncovered several overseas bank accounts belonging to him, which they said contained tens of millions of dollars in hidden income. They alleged that Mauss used the funds to finance a luxurious lifestyle centered on expensive overseas holidays, luxury cars, expensive gifts to women, as well as a private jet.

On Monday, the 77-year-old Mauss made his final plea in a lengthy court case concerning two of his off-shore accounts, located in UBS bank branches in the Bahamas and Luxembourg. The prosecution alleges that he failed to pay tax on assets totaling in excess of $50 million in the decade between 2002 and 2012 alone. Additionally, it is claimed that Mauss traveled from Germany to Luxembourg several times a year, to withdraw approximately $330,000 in cash per month from his secret accounts. But the accused former spy claims that the money was given to him by “Western intelligence agencies” in return for his services against international crime and terrorism, and that he should not have to pay taxes on it. In previous court appearances, he claimed that the money was not his, but belonged to various Western intelligence agencies and he simply used it to carry out intelligence operations.

The trial continues. If Mauss is convicted, he could spend nearly seven years in prison.

Author: Ian Allen | Date: 19 September 2017 | Permalink

News you may have missed #855

Jean-Claude JunckerBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org
►►Russian spy agency seeks to expand internet surveillance. Under an order drafted by Russia’s Communications Ministry, communications service providers would have to install equipment that would record and save all internet traffic for at least 12 hours and grant the security services exclusive access to the data. The draft order, made public on Monday, has been drafted with the help of the Federal Security Service (FSB), the successor to the Soviet-era KGB spy agency. It would take effect in July if it receives final government approval.
►►World War I spy Mata Hari’s birthplace gutted by fire. A fire in the Netherlands has gutted the birthplace of exotic dancer and World War I spy Mata Hari, Dutch media said on Sunday. Mata Hari was born as Margaretha Geertruida Zelle on August 7, 1876, the daughter of a local shopkeeper. She was arrested and executed by firing squad in October 1917, aged 41, after being accused of being a German spy during the First World War. The fire consumed the hair salon that now occupies the place of Mata Hari’s birth, the only remainder untouched by the flames was a small statuette of her dancing, erected outside the shop.
►►Luxembourg PM survives spy scandal in elections. Luxembourg’s Christian Democrat party of long-serving Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker easily remained the biggest party and the first choice to form a new coalition government following yesterday’s elections. Luxembourg was shocked into snap elections this summer after Juncker failed to contain a spying scandal centering on allegations of eavesdropping and wiretapping on politicians, and the keeping of files on ordinary citizens and leading figures dating back to the Cold War.

Luxembourg government resigns following spy scandal

Jean-Claude JunckerBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The prime minister of Luxembourg announced his intent to resign on Thursday, after a parliamentary investigation revealed scores of illegal operations conducted by the country’s intelligence service. Jean-Claude Juncker, a longtime member of Luxembourg’s Christian Social People’s Party, is Europe’s longest-serving elected leader, having been in power constantly since 1995. But on Wednesday, the astute center-right politician, who is also President of the Eurogroup —the eurozone’s finance ministers’ group— announced on Wednesday that he would step down, following seven hours of heated debate in the Luxembourg parliament. Juncker announced his intention to resign after the junior partner of his governing coalition, the Luxembourg Socialist Workers’ Party, which is the country’s second-largest, said it could no longer lend its support to the government. The reason is a parliamentary inquiry, which found that the country’s State Intelligence Service (SREL) has been engaging in serious criminal activity. The investigation was launched last year, after a local newspaper alleged that SREL’s Director, Marco Mille, had employed a surreptitious recording device disguised as a watch to record a private conversation with Prime Minister Junkcer. The parliamentary inquiry, which was released last week, found that SREL has been carrying out countless illegal wiretaps around the country and that it maintains detailed secret files on over 13,000 citizens and residents of Luxembourg. The report also alleges that SREL had set up a front company in order to facilitate the transfer of $10 million from a corrupt Russian businessman to a Spanish intelligence operative, as a personal favor to the Russian. The report did not confirm allegations, made in the country’s press, that the Grand Duke of Luxembourg has been a trusted informant of MI6, Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service. Read more of this post

British informant sues MI5 for breach of contract

RIRA gunmen

RIRA gunmen

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
An informant, who was used by British intelligence to infiltrate an Irish Republican dissident group, is suing the British government claiming he was forced to give evidence in court despite his will. The case, which is believed to be the first of its kind in British legal history, has been brought before the court by a man identified only as “Amir”. Britain’s domestic intelligence agency, MI5, has admitted recruiting Amir in 2004, and using him to infiltrate the Real Irish Republican Army (RIRA), a Provisional IRA splinter group that continues its armed campaign against British presence in Northern Ireland. But the informant claims that he accepted payment from MI5 on condition that he would never be expected to testify as a witness in court. Read more of this post

Indians allege Pakistani spies funded through Europe

India-Pak border

India-Pak border

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Indian authorities have told a major newspaper that Pakistani spies operating in India are funded with money transfers from spy handlers in Europe. Indian daily The Telegraph cites Indian counterintelligence sources, who claim that Pakistani embassies in several European nations, including Spain, Estonia and Luxembourg, use “a popular money transfer company” (in all likelihood Western Union) to fund Pakistani agents operating in India. According to the Indians, most money transfers are facilitated through the simple technique of email account password sharing, which allows both the handler in Europe and the agent in India to access the same email inbox, as well as the same money transfer drafts. Read more of this post

French “trial of the century” continues with ex-spy’s testimony

Philippe Rondot

Philippe Rondot

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
A complex court case in France, which the nation’s media have dubbed “trial of the century”, continued this week with the testimony of one of France’s most distinguished intelligence agents. Retired General Philippe Rondot, who worked for France’s domestic (DST) and foreign intelligence (DGSE), and advised several French leaders, gained international fame in 1994, when he managed to arrest Venezuelan-born operative Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, known as Carlos the Jackal. General Rondot was called earlier this week to testify whether France’s former Prime Minister, Dominique de Villepin, helped forge a series of documents showing that France’s current President, Nicolas Sarkozy, had laundered millions of dollars in defense contract bribes through secret accounts in Luxembourg’s Clearstream bank. Mr. de Villepin will face up to five years in prison if found guilty of the forgery. Read more of this post