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> on electronics is immune to cyber abuse.

And vr halfiray acros ihe wodd in Kazakhstan,

in a small city somewhere near the

Chinese Lrorder, it is b€liev€d that a plan was

hatched that had Bloomb€rg and his bill'on

dollar business in its sights.

According to law enforcement officials on

both sides of the Atlantic stillactively involved

in thi\ case, the focus of the scan was

Rloomberg himself, Lhe plan apparently to

thrcaten him directly lia c'mail and thrs ini

lial€ a high-stakes and hi-tcch ganrc that lasl

cil several nronths. Whilc lhc suspects plottcd

lheir next nrov€ fronr an ccononici'llv-ravaged

counhv regarded br the CIA as bolh a soLrrcc

ofand shl)nent point for lnanvof the rcgiont

drugs..n(lwhere the average I'earh wage even

f(r rrhite .ollrr wo.kers runs to only f2,0OO

pcrannum, inlcstigatoB irr Amcrica and Britain

starcd at thcir PC screens as th€y att€mpted to

id€ntifl' \rho or what they were dealing with.

Ih€y had to keep the susp€cts onlirre, constantly

conrnnrnicating (4rile they attempted to build

L'p a psycholoSical profilc of them.

Irentually, it becamc apparcnt lhal in order

to playthe game to its naturalend/ thc investigatob

would have to peruade Bloomberg

himself to take on a controll€d, protected, wall(-

on part in this whole bizarre drama. Iirsl,

though, they had to Iurc the Kazakhstan 5us'

pects out of their homeland and away f.om

their colnputer screens, the very plac€ whe.e

they felt saf€st.

"lt appeared from the outs€t that the

Rloomberg system had bcen hacked into,"

expla'ns a sourc€ witb th€ UKt National Criminal

Intelligenc€ Sqlrad (NCIS) who becamc

prily to this investigation.

"Who it was, was

uncertain. The firewalls had been br€ached and

information had been downloaded on to two

CD Roms. 'this hacking had been done quiie

professionally and it had been well €xecuted."

According to FBI legal docaments, the fnst

sign of trouble came early last y€ar when

Bloomberg staff in New York noted a stranSe

€ mail in their system. Its add.ess was biza(e

and, as it turned out, ominoos. Themyste.ye

mail came from somebody identifying thern

selv€s as "bloomberlmike@hotmail.com" and

was addressed to Michael Bloomberg. l h€re was

ako an attachment. Thh took the form of a le!

ter to Bloomberg fronr "Alex". The author of

the anon)4noos note stated he was "not a criminal"

and intended "to help you [Michael

Bloornbergl understand some d.awbacks of

your system"- Alex went on to expla'n alleged

secu.ily flaws in a particular Bloomberg PC

based product to which he claimed to have

access. He stated he had access to the Rloomb€q

system as a whole and had manaSed to g€t in

to aU its tunctions' he'd also obtained th€ pass

words orvarious senior Bloomberg employe€s

- incloding Michael Bloomberg himself and

was even able to send arrd receiv€ €-mail on

behalf ol and in th€ name ot any Bloomb€r8

user. This was alarming strff.

Alex asserted he could prov€ thes€ "words

with... piciures of Bloomberg scr€€ns". To

round off the m€ssage, Alex said h€ was not a

terrorist bot "hope[ct]that you'llfind my information

valuable and kindly propose adequate

payment. I could giv€ the p.ofessionaladvice

t i

!

1 . .

-J,'

to yo(r programmers on how to protect the

lBloombergl sysiem". The rinal sentence, the

coda, was th€ sting in the tail. Alex, while not

ing Bloomberg could refuse ihe deal, stated,

"lYlour s€curity and reputation a.e in your

in other $'ods Alex u'as implicit\'threatening:

I bale cracked your system, I can wander

around inside jl, Ican manipulate it, I can

impcrsonate its (sers, and we both know

although I'm not claiming to be able to alier

the pricclcss, volatile financial figures it caries

across the globe that the whol€ svsten, your

$'holc empirc, is based on trust and security.

lgnore mc and vou'11 pay the price.

Wiihin hou's a printed fax m€ssage slid out

ola machine at thc Bloomberg HQ.lt was fronr

Acfoss scveral pages the laxed message

'l'm not a terrorist. I hope you find my information

valuable and I propose payment. Your security

and reputation are in your hands'

showeci, among other things, unmistakable

visual images of Bloomberg screens complete

with information. This was Alex showing his

opposition sonre ordre cards hewas holding. lt

was his way ofwhisper'ng: Take me seriously.

Michael Bloombelg went straight to the IBL

Itspeopl€ examin€d the lengthy faxwhich containecleven

more damaging evidence: personal

iniormation about Bloomhe.g himself, his

enployee I.D. photo, his comput€r username

and password at Bloomberg and even, Dnbe,

Iievably, his private credit ca.d details. This

kind of information obviously wasn't available

to normal BloomberS clients' in fact onlya f€W

select personnel at th€ company in Manhat

tan had access to that kind ofsensitive mater

ial. Something was clearly very wrong.

for the liBI, trackinS down such assailant5-

most ofwbom llke Alex hide behind easily

arranged ISP e-mail addrcsses - is no easy task

given that at the last count there were reckon€d

tobe36Om 'ntemetusers wo.ldwide. One

sourc€, the Internat'ona1 Data Co.poration,

estimates that the internet commefce market

7'/, 'l -f alVtr,r.r

globally w'llamount to more than El trillion

in the next 24 months. Not bad for a mark€t

place that hardlyex'sted half a decade ago. Rut

Iaw enforcement figures show it has also

b€come a targ€t for criminak. In a congree

sional statement last yeaf, FBI Dircctor Louis

Fre€h not€d how a joint IBI Computer Secu.ity

Institute survey.eported that 90percent of

respondents had d€tected security b.ea€hes in

their systems within the last yearalone, 74pe.

cent rcported breaches and theft from the'. sys'

tems, and information theft rnd financial

fraud amount€d to financial losses totalling

$68rn and $56m respectively.

In the survey itselt som€ 273 respondents

reported losses totalling a staggering $265m

a figure double the bottom line statistics from

1998. The picture in the UK was just as bleak

wjth no-one, it scemed, inwlnerable to attack,

theft or potential extortion. Companies that

hav€ been targeted in Bntain include Powergen,

Ega, Saf€way, Woolworths, Barclays' online site

and the Halifax's Intelligent linance operation.

fu(her, it is not known iust how many com-

l,lichael Eioomberq, 59, is one ol the financial

kingpins of Wall skeet, a Master ol the

Universe-type moqulwho seems to have

fallen from the pages oI Eonflre of tl)e

yanir'es. Now' he isrumoured to be contemplatinq

a career change, crossing t[om

the world ol high Iinance into big-city politics,

ready {o wie d more power than ever

asa mayora I cand idate in the Biq Apple.

He is a figure as big and brash as New

Yorkiiself. He is a Johns Hopkins Univers.

tyand Harvard Business Schoo qfaduat€

who had the nerve, aged 39, iowritean

autobiography called 8/oomberg by

8/oomberq with an opening chapler enti

tled 'The Thrill of Gettinq Fired'. With his

tradematk swaqger he wrote of how he'd

been dxed as general partner with

I

I

I

12

I AFRIL 2OO]' SUNDAY AUSINESS


virtually pricele5s an.i explosive inlormation

which il br€ach€d and manipulated coulo

!.

potentialll, cause inte!nationn i tlnan€'al chaos

and meltciown \das l)a.dled at anoth€r

impr€gnrbl€ LlloomDerg iacilitv at a separare

ll

'l

location m New lersey-

On:, April, Alex re aPpear€d in e-Drarl torn.

Again he wrote from the bloonrberg-mrkelehot

mail.com address. ln:rogant tones he srated

that he had "alr€roy oome a Sreat ioD analis

ing lsicl Ithe tsloombergl system'. He ended

with a cur d€mand:

"1he author valued his

tl

s€rvices at US$200,000."

'Ihat cash d€rnand for $200,000 immediatelv

riught the IrBI's attention. Vlichael Bloomberg

is worth billions. A clemand for less than a quarterof

a million dollars siSnalled a trend thev'd

se€n before: it nust come trom a country where

l8

ln

that kind of cash worlcl go tar a

ret:tively poorcountry but a coLrntry ihat could

produce someone lile Alex who was desperate

enough and, inlportantlv, had the wollcl'class

techni.al know how to bl'pass stnt€'olthe-art

cyber firewalls in the West. lt also hint€d at a

certain type ol psycholoSy- Again, tbis was an

approach that llll agents had come across in

pani€s in the UK have quietly settled with - the taxed scr€en images and personal inior

the past: th€ would-be criminrl, in this cas€

extortionists' denrands, hoPing then systems mation amounted to a report on the inadequacy

of th€ tsloomberg security syster and

Dron€y at a relatively modest extortion thresh-

Al€x, was knowingly demanding a sum of

will be sater in the iuture and that the lack ot

publicity will not damage the already iragile he \{anted p.tym€nt for it. ll Micha€l

old in the hope that a bi8 N€w York king o1-

rhe hiltfirm ljke Bloomberg wo(ld pay up fast

state of customers' trtst in usinS online tinan- Bloomberswas about to Pay up then h€ must,

stated Alex, "estimat€ my service and precisely

and drop the matter. 'lhis had happened

numerous times belore in cas€s th€ FBI knew

The Flll officials sensed from the outset that offef me the sum. If I agree with the sum you

they could be dealing with an individual who pay and lre work furth€r with your system. If

of. It is not uncommon tor huge comPanies

under cybeFthreat simply to pay up qui€tl,

was for€ign. The faltering English too authen' I do not agree we terminate neSotiations."

tically bad to be d€liberate and the parti.u It is undertood that at (his staSeofthe investiSatlon

[8] officials could not spot any

tighten online secur'ty and then covel their

costs with hiSh-premium insuraoce adange

lar words that were rnisspell€d and used inco.-

rectly aroused thei. nrspicions. The ke, they evidence of a breach in BloombelS'systetn, a

One day after Alex e-mailed his APril 3

felt, was to keep Alex talkins. Therefore Michael system with hiSh protection and securitr Yet

$200,000 demand to Michael Bloomberg he

Bloomberg, uDdef the IBIt dnection, sent a Alex had som€how slipped throu8h the net,

gotin touch again, saying h€ was changing his

r€ply via the internet to the address contain employing an ultra-pfofessional and sneaky

ing his name, bloomberS,mik€@hotmail.com, technique that evaded his skill€d pursuers. At

addr€ss because of technical difficulti€s.'th€

stating that he was intelested in ottaining dl€ that point the priodty was not so much to tind

new address was simply, alexalex6s@hot

jnformation Alex was off€rin8 and mail.coll). Undef direction from the F1ll,

8€ntly asking

how paynrent should be made for it Alex he was and stop him. IrBl officials intimated

out how hedid what hedid, as to find out who

BloomberS replied 48 hours later on 6 April

nust have been waiting by his terminal, that althoDgh Michael Bloomberg's p€rsonal

and suSgested a new strateSy. He wanted to

because a short time later he repli€d from the information was compromised, atno Poirrt was

meet Alex in person. The mystery Dran

responded within four days saying he was

same address. He said Michael Bloomb€r8 had th€rc a threat to the actual linancial data flow

"ready to enter into negotiations with

already been given valuable seryices. In other ing from and through his scre€ns onwards to

words, Alex was saying that his earlier material rhousands otclients globally.ln fact, that vital,

IBloombergl personalty and your lcomputerj

speci.rlist developerv'. He also asked Michael

Bloomberg,

"what waranti€s ot my secu.ity

canyou give fiom your side att€r you know my

Salomon Brothers on lAugusl1981. expaoded his lina ncia I seryicesr stock worth over 52bn. lt delivets informationto real oame [?1". It was a Slaringly naive question.

Alex wasn't neSotiating with his target

His severance cheque was a debate_ prices were now included, Traders and Forlune 5OO heavy-hitters - M icrosolt s

sllencing 5lom. He could have just retired; investo15, bankers and analysts could BillGates, Disney's Michael E isner and a ll lvlichael Bloomb€rg privately. FIe was negotiatinS

with a train€d team ot IrBl expec, who

instedd, he saw a new'money age on the examine commodities and currencles the rest - as wellas hundredsofmajor

horizon andsold the means to make more using this newtoolwhich drewon histori banks.Bloomberg'sterminalsandprod-weructs g|ace the desks of customers inover ftsl Speciat Agents have a flexible game pian

last catching up on him.

mofey to theaspiring new rich,

caldata charting lrends and Il!ctuations,

Within a year he had builtanempire as well as c! rtent movements reported by l00counkies,reachingwalchluleYesinin such situations. 8ut it always boils down to

based on deliverinq real-time tinancial the minute on news broadcasts. By ihe the white House and even the Vatican. basic trad'tional law enforcelnent techniques:

iniormation and newsvia a terminal. end ol the 20th ceniurythose little termi The compd ny employs over 2000 staf. they have a potential extortionist and th€y1e

based product known inevitablyas The nals had exploded across the g bbe

The divorced Bloomberg -sober haircut,

bespokesuits, owner ol an Upper Fast rronic trailwann they have to k€€p talkin8. ay

rfying to track him down.'to ke€p the €lec

Bloomberq. The terminals delivered infor_ They'd been updaied to keep pacewith

mation on bond pricesalong wilhallimpoflantanalytical

modelsforcompar' -especially in the lJsand laler uK-in dwelling' accordinq to one published of the e mails via its own computers, Alex was

internetgrowlh and the increased lnterest Side townhouse (a'dark antiques'fllled lTApril, asthe flll dug into the possiblesoulces

inq lhem,a formuLaallowing traders to small investment lirms and privaie report), isa mao who wields powef lrom becoming iumpy. His note on that date stated

calculate lair prices lor securities, lt was an inveslors, a ll of whom wanted a piece ol lhe l5lh lloor olPark Avenuecorporate impatiently:

"Okay Mike, Iund€rstand that

inslant wioneI cuttinq back on the time Wall Street action. That businegs ofiices. Hecould havebeen torgiven for while we carryort useless correspondence, your

traders spenl analysing aardsortlng out Eloomberg L.P,lounded on the Slom fe€1inq as invLr Inerable as any incredibly Lcomputerl specialists are trying to tix holes in

figures and prices, As his emprregrew he walk.the-plank cheque, is now reputedly rich man can possibly be.

tbe LBloombergl system. tt is ciear that you are

extendinS time. But time is already lost. You

l3


have allorled serious leakage of informalion.

"1 am tired of watching the actions ot yorr

prograrnmcrs while lcould suggcn the reliable

and manageable prctection and conlrolsPacc...

"llid you calculate how m('ch you al.ea.ly

paid and, will pay to the anny ol programnrers

for thc crcation of a toy for hackcrs?

"Mike, why don't you wanl lo pay nre ktr

done iob. Iam confident that should you wnh

ir3 ahravs possiblc lo find justificalion for

pay'n8 rt\e oue awaro.

"l have allevidenccs that BI-(X)MELIiG svsiem

threatcns busines of its clienls.

"Using lhcsc evidences, I can iniorm the

rvorld on this dangcr giving the n€ccssary arguments,

i.cluding our correspondtncc...

''l am honcsl and well int€ntioned per$n as

far as you could see. Rul I can't givc up my prnr

ciples and in any case Nill 8cl mt' nron.:,v for

'l he note also cortalned other details. lt

insrructed Mike Llloombcfg io open a baDk

account in which to dcPosil that elusive

$200,000, and to infoirn Alex of the nanre ot

the account and relcvanl information about il

so he could chcck that the money q,as

.leposited. "You will have 48 hours..." statcd

Alex, ".. atler .eceipt of thlisl email lor naking

the paynrcnl. I've written a repon containing

copi.s ofconftjential infotnalion oI your firm

and your clients. Iguaranlee that.fter lget the

Doney I will dcstoy all rnaterials. 1n case of

non paymcnl I'll sencl a repon to yo|r clicnts

lh€y wjll lble very surpris€d of thc rcliability

of yorrr system which yot' (rndc' look to

guarantee. Besides, l'll semd lhc informatbn to

independent expen agcncies dealing in testing

soflware as well as to al1 popular mass nredia

in thc trorld.They allwillh€lp you lo rcsolve

the problems for goocl.'

It amo nted to a chcap thre.i. But the lal

decid€d to go along for lhe 'ide. -Ihe trick was

to lure Alex out into lhc open by appearing

threatcn€d. So lh€y simply intormed him, 48

hor!s lalcr, that his $200,000 was Dcing ttans

ferred into the 1-ondon branch oifice ol

Deutsche llank Alcx was given the bank\

addrcss, phon€ number and evcn thc namc

and direct I'nc of the hank €inployec handling

the accouDl. They went on to invilc Alcx to

calllhe bank and check thal thc cash was in

place. The IBI was both showing him the

money and strokinS his ego to make him fccl

safc. What its ag€nts didn'r tell him was that

thecash was there bul couldn't be moled any

Witlrin 24 hours a furions Alcx discove.ed

dris last salient detail. Hc fired offan abrasive

e mail saying Mjchacl Illoombe.g was "wast

ing timc" and thal theac@unt could "be closed

at any monrent". He angrily demandecl "total

co trol" over the account in London and went

on to demand $7,500 for havclling expenses

hom the a.(ount so he could meet Rloombcrg

\ .

-l he inirigued [t]1, sensing the endgame,

allowcd the $7,500 to be tlansfctred.It was a

lna$iv€ blunder by Al€x.

Wiihin weeks the London branch oflice oI

Deutsche Eank was able to infornr the fBI thal

ihe money had beerr sent to a bank 'n Riga,

l.arvia. The I81 then spoke to the Kazakhstan

National I}ureau of Special Sclvices who told

rhem that within a week of the transter tlrat

bank in I-atvia had been called Lry so'ncone 1ir

ing in Kazakhsran. The IBI simuttaneotlsll' PUL

s(led another line of enquiry to idcnljfy tln'

sourcr of thc e naits to Rloonlbcrg, that led

rhenr io two e mail addr€sses located in the

ciry of Alnaty aho in Kaz-akhnan Bloonberglt

i nlerna I business record rev€aled thal the com

pany had irrstalled a couple ot tcrDinals that

allowed access to its worldwidc databases br a

Jeffrey Robinson is the London-based Criminal Intel igence Squad's tecentlypublished

report Projecl Dynamo,

author of international beslselling

expot6s oI both money.launderlng, in organised Crime from the Posfsoviet

lh€ laundryrren, and invesligations into Republirsilmpact on and Thredlto lhe

qlobal crime in The MerqeL He belipves uK. The seriousness with which the

the choice ol th€ capitalds a locat on ior Home Oflice is takiflq ihe issue ol cybercrime

is ufderlined by dsl moftlr s

the stinq-meelrng bel$/een lvi.hael

Bloomberg and lhe lndivirlLrdl suspectea

ol beifg 'A af ouncement lhdl an elile team ol

ex' who hdd jusi llown n nlernel polce oflic€rs is to be forn€d,

'rom the lar flung corner oli forfirer fifanced by d budgelolt23.5 milrof.

Soviel republic, was a ltoo approprial,". NCIS sources dlso emplrasise the lorces

"The Russiars are already here,' lre commiiment lo workiIq alonqside

says.

"The Russians cefta niy have an businesses

the UK that are be ng

economjc presence in lhe Clly; lhey are ldrgeted by eleclronlc criminaE. The old

ce[alnly usinq the cily of London ds one kick'the door down and "bugqer-th€'

olth€ ways to launder their money. company" notion has gone - ts ancient

'Anyone

who tells you lhat Russlan h slory, we htsve io and willwork closely

crlm ndldclivily in Britain is under wllh companles now'said one source

coflrolis being totdly dis nq€nuous or flally.

simply doesn t undersland the probleri. Observersuch as Robinson, howevel

lhev are h€re and th€ money numD-ars believe these measures cou d be a case

are big. The Ciiy is n cesspool.' ol too ll(i a, ioo 1ate. He arqLres thal the

Such asserlions are broadly lracked up uS and UK aulhorit es are

'llght years

by Iindinqs cont.ined in Ndtion.ri beh nd lhe cyber'crimina s who have.ll

I

,f

mail-extort'on". (th€ NCIS becam€ involv€d

in this case because the money was going flow

throLrgh the London-bascd JDcutsche Bankl

account.) By the end oI.lLrne 20OO Michacl

Rloomberg had e mailed Alcx inviiing him to

a nreetinS in London perhaps lo pay out tle

fesr of rhe s2o0,ooo at thc bcSinning ol

'Ihc IRI investigation carricd on into )L'lx Rf

2s lult Ale)i e-mailed Michael Bloombctg with

a note drat st|lllcstcd that ihe bait of thc London

meeting in August had been takcn: "l plan t.

to arrivc in i.oD.lon beforehand. Howcver in

th€ worst casc wc shallarivc at nighl trom Sth I

to 9th Augun." Hc went on to ask Illoombcrg

bl, now routinely refered to in fanriliar lcrms

as "Mikc" Io arange a meeting allcr noon

'1hen, lcaking even more intonralion, the ovet

the money and observe no egdlor

fle €xplains: fecerlly phoned. very

high.powered guy if Bfit!5lr police

clrcles - lwon't tellyou who he w.s

because hod be €rnbarr.ssed nfd lris

Dhone rdng and fdnll and 'aii(t arrd

when lfindlly rtolh rr of llre Dhorro I

sdid, Jeez I rldr)'l cvcn qol your vo1.L,

rniil.' He sa d: 'W0 ..rn'l.llord voir!

nrnil. The bdri rluys ll,/ r)rivala lols lltr'

cl,stomer.allcd Kazkonrmerts Securities, which confident Alex signed off Lry announcinS:

"Today

was also locatcd in Almaiy, Kazakhstan. Inves-

is my birthday, 27 years okl. And on

ligatos soon discove.ed that one of only four this day I don't want you (o ihinl aboui me

employees who had acc€ss to that Bloomb€.8 bad." When the nrspect and a colleague flew

service in the company was the saDre man into Ileathrow on 6 A!8"s1 2000, ii would be

who'd coniacted the bank in Latvia to enntre confirmed, thanks to information siven on his

ihe Bloombers account hact been op€ncd for sclf-completed landing card, that his dalc or

Alex. bnth was Iulv 25. 1973.

It looked as if lhc |Bl had a prime nFpect in

their siShts. No$'all thcy had to do was either

go lo him or gct him to come to them.

"The involvement of peolte from the lornrcr

Soviet Union in ihis vrt of c.ime is really not

unique," comments a senior menrbcr of lhc

NLllS. "lt might have bccn no! technologybut

ir was essentiall)'nothing morc than an old

.riDe, a modcnr variation on threat and btack

ho gurr'ir oors w"to oLl 'hA Ado no

their thing: these young wannabes said

!eez, how do we become a part of this?'

The two youngmen whoarived ai Ileathrow

planning to mect nlulti-millhnaire Michael

llloombcrg and who are thought to be b€hi d

the plan to relieve him of $200,000 wcrc,

believes crimc authorleffr€), Robinson, prolrably

nothing more than, "Two kids lwhol saw

the kind of moncy lha( crime rvould bring

thcm because they had role models, thcy had

real examples all ovcr Russia and the f()rmer

Soviet bloc. People wbo w€re whcclinS and

dealingi I mean, it's the wild Wcn. The gun

dingers were out ther€ doing thcir o*'n thing

and these young wannabes said,'1ecz, how do

we become a pari of this?' And it took very little,

I spect, ot their ingenuity to figure ort

how to get into lhe system. The problem was

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that once they got in they didn't leally know

how to handle it or what to do. They were Kncl

of ili'preparcd."

Both booked into th€ Hotel Edward, in cen

tral London. lor four days the FBt, NCIS and

Metropolitar I'olice officers witched the two

men. An NCIS sour€e close to the investiSation

saidr "They wele keepinS the rselves busy in

London, including meeting oth€Is." It was noi

specified t{ho these "oth€rs" were.

On r0 Au8u5l both men travelled across t n-

don to the Hilton hotel on Park Lane. They

mad€ thet way to a prjvate room where they

met with three men who claimed they were

ftom Bloomberg L.P Th€y identified thems€lves

as an executive, a translator and Michael

Bloomberg himsef now aueSedly face to tace

with the alleg€d Alex. in fact, only Bloombetg

qood guys can't alford voic€ mail."

lo The Mergei Robinson told the storY

ola similaf cyber'scam that played out in

London in 1994'5, involvifg a young

Russianamed Vladimir Leoniciovich

Levin. Uslnq litlle more than a aptop,

Levin accessed C tibank's Cash

lvandqement System in New York and

trdfsferred S3.7m inlo accounls he

contro led in Finland, Holland, Germany,

lsraeldnd the US. The FBI tracked him -

noi knor./ing his deni ty ffom Jlly lntil

october 1994. over 4O transactions

occurred. He was arrested at Heathrow ln

February 1995 by scotland Yard olficers

and extradited to ihe USA in l99Z All but

S4O0,O00 of the loot was iound. Levin

pleaded guilty. was jailed and iined and

was out within lhree years. He brought a

bank to ils knees, gave lhe international

police the runaround, yet uniil he was

deporled to lace kial, h€'d never been in

the us in his liie. His only visits had been

was tellinS the truth. llis two companions

were trained undelcovef officers from the

Metropolitan

'fhe

Police.

NCIS source.lose to tlr€ investiSation

and operation emphasised: "Michael

Bloomberg himself was never in any danger

There was no risk to his lif€. The officers w€re

not dealing with a kidnaP threat - it was olti

fashioned blackmail."

From their own investigations jt is clear the

poli€e were satisfied that neither Kazakh

At the stan of the meeting, Bloonrb€Igsaid

h€'d be€n s€nt e-mails asklng fol $200,000 and

felt he was being extorted. One oi the m€n

claimedthat theywereboth there to h€lp with

Bloomberg' security, that they weren't crimi'

nals and that Alex hadn't brok€n any Kaza

khstan laws. He was also worried by

Bloomberg's use ofthe term "extortion". Alter

all€gedly claiming he wa5 a prosecutor in Ka?akistan,

the same man then supposedly request-

€d a contract for Alex for his servic€s in pointing

out the flawed system at BloomberS. One

The FBI had a prime suspect. All

they had to do was either go to

him or get him to come to them

of the undercov€r officers inlormed h'm that

no agr€ed contract could be legal the nreeting

was in s€€ret aftef all. rle allegedly pushed

for a contra€t of payment anyway, claiming to

hav€ a draft version in his hotelfoom. the two

began to pack up and leav€ dre room to rciri€ve

it but they offe.ed to meet again that same

afternoon. "-fh€y beSan to thinl a deal was in

place because their confidenc€ had been boost'

ed..." said a senior NCIS source.

By that time, however, Micha€l llloorrberg

had departed tbe room. Ile'

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