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30 November 2012, 09:42

Surveillance software: Gamma Group's offshore companies uncovered

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According to joint research by the Guardian and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), surveillance software firms are using offshore companies in countries like the British Virgin Islands to do business with regimes that want to spy on their citizens. One of the firms is Gamma Group International, which, according to a report in the Guardian, founded Bizcorp Management Limited as a letterbox company in Singapore.

The Guardian says that Gamma Group International, owned by Brit Louthean Nelson, is itself an offshore company that handles Finfisher, a surveillance software suite developed in Germany. Bizcorp Mangement in Singapore has now been uncovered, although managing director Martin Münch, as spokesman of the Gamma Group, has refused to share any information about its purpose. Münch denied the existence of any offshore firms at first, but had to correct his statement when he was presented with evidence to the contrary by the Guardian.

A few days ago, the Guardian and the ICIJ began publishing a series of articles about letterbox companies with links to British businesses. The newspaper says it plans to reveal a "shadowy financial system" that damages the British economy and involves business deals that reputable companies would always deny to the press.

Whether and how Gamma used offshore companies to sell Finfisher software to countries like Bahrain and Egypt during Mubarak's rule will have to be further investigated. Münch's statement that demo software was stolen, changed, and then used by the regimes could potentially be invalidated. An analysisPDF that is currently being run on FinSpy, the heart of the surveillance program, could also reveal more about who is using the software.

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(Detlef Borchers / fab)

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