• How the Biggest Fraud in German History Unravelled (3/3)

    From Socialist Democrats@21:1/5 to All on Sat Mar 11 19:15:40 2023
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    company that would buy the remains of Cambridge Analytica, the data-
    collection firm that was mired in scandal for its role in influencing elections. When it came to Libyan matters, Marsalek seemed to get a thrill
    out of telling people that he had body-cam videos of horrific battlefield violence, saying that they showed “the boys” killing prisoners. He boasted
    that Petlinsky had taken him to Syria to embed with Russian soldiers, on a joyride to the ancient city of Palmyra. According to Weiss, Marsalek
    “wanted to be a secret agent.” But there’s no concrete evidence that he

    Nevertheless, Marsalek’s position at Wirecard gave him access to materials
    that might be of interest to a foreign intelligence service. In 2013, the company began issuing credit cards with false names to the German Federal Criminal Police Office, for use during undercover investigations—meaning
    that Marsalek might have had insights into the agency’s operational
    spending. It later emerged that the B.N.D., Germany’s foreign-intelligence service, used Wirecard credit cards, too. After Marsalek’s escape, the
    B.N.D. claimed that it was unaware of his connections to Russian

    In 2014, Marsalek led an effort at Wirecard—in partnership with private
    Swiss and Lebanese banks—to issue anonymous debit cards that could be
    preloaded with up to two million euros per year. In his pitch, he told Mastercard that such cards would spare ultra-high-net-worth individuals
    the annoyance of being asked for stock tips, for example, when a waiter
    took a credit card and learned the client’s name. But it is difficult to conceive of a more useful setup for covert operational expenses—an
    anonymous asset, accepted by everyone, perfect for bribing politicians,
    paying assassins, or moving large sums of cash across borders.

    Jan Marsalek’s getaway jet landed in Minsk. From there, he continued to
    Moscow, on a fake passport, likely with the assistance of Petlinsky,
    according to the Dossier Center, an investigative outfit. Both men have
    changed their names; Petlinsky’s whereabouts are unknown. The next month, Germany sent an extradition request for Marsalek to Russian law-
    enforcement agencies. They replied that they had no address for Marsalek,
    and no record of his having entered the country. His last known phone
    activity was last year.

    “He’s quite clearly hiding in one place, just because of the logistics of
    how all sorts of systems work when you travel,” Jon, the private
    investigator, told me. “Every time a passport is visually scanned into
    another country, we can get those records here.” He speculated that
    Marsalek will soon be “drained of all his money,” and recalled clients
    “who have done disappearing acts,” made it to Russia, and come back a few
    years later, completely broke. “Out there, you pay for your safekeeping,”
    Jon said. “As soon as you don’t have money, then you’re disposable.”

    Last summer, a grainy photo appeared to show Marsalek in an upscale Moscow neighborhood, wearing a red Prada jacket and climbing into an S.U.V. “It actually does look like him,” Rami El Obeidi, the former Libyan spy chief, mused on Twitter. “Except, knowing him, he never wore Prada (unless Russia
    got the better side of him). He preferred Brioni, like I do.” ?

    Published in the print edition of the March 6, 2023, issue, with the
    headline “The Price of Belief.”

    <https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2023/03/06/how-the-biggest-fraud-in- german-history-unravelled>

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