Wednesday, May 13, 2009

$13,682.9 USD a month to be a spy!

Sure a BMW Oracle Spy gets busted... but what about these guys’ months ago spying on Oracle sailing in San Diego!

A bitter America's Cup spat between billionaires now includes a spy tale.

A French employee of American syndicate BMW Oracle Racing acknowledged gathering information about the boat being secretly built on Lake Geneva by America's Cup champion Alinghi, according to a police document included in papers the Swiss filed in a New York court.
Alinghi said French and Swiss police continue to investigate the actions of Jean Antoine Bonnaveau, who identified himself as a member of BMW Oracle Racing's design team and said he was part of a "recon cell."

Alinghi included the transcript of a hearing before a French regional judicial police department in an affidavit filed with the Supreme Court of the State of New York in an ongoing tussle over specifics of the next America's Cup.

Alinghi and BMW Oracle Racing are due in court Thursday. Alinghi must tell the court why it should not be held in contempt for refusing to comply with an order that its showdown against the American crew be held in February. The Swiss have asked the court to disqualify the Americans as Challenger of Record if they don't provide a measurement certificate for their 90-foot trimaran, which currently is being modified under cover at a San Diego boatyard.
This is the latest and most intriguing development in the case, which has meandered through three New York courts and led to a rare one-on-one showdown between Alinghi and BMW Oracle Racing in giant multihulls next year for the oldest trophy in international sports.
Spying and skullduggery have long been part of the high-stakes, big-money, big-ego America's Cup. The presence of the transcripts of a police interrogation make it that much more interesting.

Bonnaveau was detained by French police after Alinghi filed a complaint with Swiss authorities April 29 for violation of secrecy or privacy with a camera.

According to the transcript, Bonnaveau admitted taking photos and using a GPS device to take measurements of the tents that are concealing the Swiss multihull at a boatyard in Villeneuve on Lake Geneva's eastern shore.

The Swiss haven't revealed any details about their boat, which reportedly is a 110-foot catamaran. But they did videotape Bonnaveau and his car's license plates.

Bonnaveau said he hoped to take photos of boat components as they were moved between a workshop and the tents. While he said he didn't see any pieces of the boat, he took measurements of the tents that could give BMW Oracle Racing officials an idea of the scope of the boat.

Bonnaveau said he emailed two reports to BMW Oracle Racing designer Manolo Ruiz de Elvira, a former Alinghi employee.

"I did not collect information critical for Alinghi, or frankly decisive for Oracle," Bonnaveau told the French police. "What is circulating on the Internet is much more specific than what I was able to observe. I did not see the hulls, for example…"

Reached on a Spanish cell phone that was listed in the police document, Bonnaveau confirmed he worked for BMW Oracle Racing but refused to confirm details in the transcript.
"You read what you read, you believe what you believe," he told The Associated Press. "I don't have to answer to you."

Bonnaveau told police he makes 10,000 euros (C$15,847) a month and was authorized by BMW Oracle Racing "to carry out this reconnaissance. In fact, I am part of the design team but the entire staff can provide useful information, particularly on opposing teams. We call that a 'recon cell' for reconnaissance."

He also told police that while he was aware that espionage has always been part of the America's Cup, "I did not think I was in violation by doing what I was doing."