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Israeli corporate intelligence caught in Romanian corruption scandal

Three Israelis have been given suspended prison sentences in Romania after being convicted of trying to intimidate the country's former top corruption prosecutor.

Dan Zorella and Avi Yanus, former Israeli intelligence officers and co-founders of a corporate intelligence firm Black Cube, along with employee Gal Farchi, were slapped with suspended sentences of two years and 11 months, according to Thursday's decision by a Bucharest court made public on Monday.

The verdict came after the trio, who were not present in Romania for the court case, struck a plea deal with prosecutors. 

They were accused of having created an "organized crime group" that in 2016 targeted Laura Kovesi, a prosecutor who at the time headed Romania's anti-corruption agency DNA and was overseeing a vast investigation of senior figures in the country.

Kovesi left the agency in 2019 to head the EU's newly-created top prosecutor's office.

Two lower-level Black Cube officials were given suspended sentences as part of the same case in 2016 and 2017.

At the time, Zorella told Israeli investigators cooperating with their Romanian counterparts that he had instructed the pair to hack into Kovesi's email in the hopes of finding compromising material.

The pair was detained in Bucharest before being able to do so.

As part of the wide-ranging case, Romanian authorities last year began a court case against a former Romanian secret agent, Daniel Dragomir, who is alleged to have contacted one of Black Cube's founders and wired him 135,00 euros for services.

Dragomir fled the country in June 2020, on the eve of being found guilty in a separate corruption case.

According to local media, an unnamed businessman had hired Dragomir who then contacted the Israeli firm.

Romania is among EU's most corruption-plagued countries.


Written by The Levant

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