A version of this op-ed appeared in print on October 25, 2012, on page A31 of the New York edition with the headline: Spies and Co..
Spying for profit continued in more recent times. In the late 1990s, the candy companies Nestlé and Mars engaged in an epic corporate war that included a confidential source nicknamed “Deep Chocolate.” Former government agents, working through a subcontractor for Nestlé, snatched garbage bags from the Mars headquarters, replacing them with dummy trash bags so the custodial staff wouldn’t catch on. Picking through coffee grounds and stale food, they found shredded documents that they were able to painstakingly reconstruct into readable corporate records.
In London in the fall of 2008, I met with Nick, a former British Special Forces soldier who has gone into the private espionage business — working for companies around the world to dig up dirt on their competitors or their own employees. Nick, who asked that I not use his last name, told me that they often used a simple strategy: they hired subcontractors to rent space in a building across the street from their competitor, and pointed laser microphones at conference rooms across the way. Voices in the rooms made slight vibrations in the windows, and Nick’s microphones could translate those back into sound that he could record.
RELATED COMMENT BY JOHN DONOVAN ON ROYAL DUTCH SHELL CORPORATE ESPIONAGE
Shell has been up to its corporate neck in corporate espionage and all manner of dirty tricks for decades. I can testify to this fact from my own experience backed up by documentary proof, including from Shell’s own internal documents.
More recently, Shell has engaged in a global spying operation relating to me and this website.
Shell has its own in-house spooks and also uses external/associated spy firm resources for subversion, infiltration, forgery, undercover missions, deception, betrayal and intimidation. Activities not in keeping with Shell’s claimed business principles, but more in line with the fictional evil organizations depicted in James Bond movies. Some of the black ops have arisen from Shell’s serial theft of intellectual property.
Shown right is an undercover agent Manfred Schlickenrieder – code name Camus – who carried out many missions for Shell on an international basis while still a serving member of the German Secret Service.
My sources include a senior official in U.S. Intelligence (who confirmed a U.S. government investigation of Shell corporate espionage activities in the U.S.) and someone from the top level of Shell Global Security, which has operated under various guises, including Corporate Affairs Security (CAS). I was also approached by another U.S. government investigative agency and at their request supplied leaked Shell internal documents. This was about the time when Shell involved a specialist unit founded and party funded and staffed by the FBI, in its espionage activities directed at me and every Shell employee/contractor throughout the world. Over 177,000 people. The spying activity has not been successful as our visitors may have noticed yesterday, when we published internal messages sent by Shell Executive director Andy Brown, including restricted information, literally minutes after he sent them.
If Shell disputes what I say, then it can take legal action. It will not do so because I have the evidence to nail them.