Israeli intelligence firm Black Cube was involved in a smearing campaign against Jewish billionaire George Soros before April's elections in Hungary, Politico reported Saturday, citing two different sources.
According to the report, from December 2017 to March 2018, agents of Black Cube—which was also involved in slandering women accusing Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment—contacted elements and NGOs associated with Soros while using aliases and fake identities and recorded their conversations.
Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orbán—who won the last elections by a large majority— had the government newspaper publish the transcripts of the conversations in an effort to undermine the NGOs ahead of the elections.
It is not the first time Black Cube is entangled in dubious affairs across Europe. Over the past few months, the company's agents were reported to have been acting to thwart the Iran nuclear deal, which was signed under former US President Barack Obama, and smearing the head of Romania's anti-corruption authority.
However, this is the first time Black Cube is reported to have meddled in the elections of a foreign country.
The NGOs' employees said the agents who had contacted them used Arab and European names and that at least two of them spoke with an Israeli accent.
In addition, the employees said meetings with the agents were held in hotels and high-end restaurants in Budapest, Vienna, Amsterdam, London and New York.
One of the agents who had contacted two NGO heads introduced herself as Anna Bauer, the director general of the Taurus Capital company. The NGOs' employee said that both of the names were used before and added that using the same alias more than once was a common practice of Black Cube.
One person with knowledge on Black Cube's operations said at least one of the individuals who contacted the NGO employees and recorded them was an employee of the Israeli company.
He added that the companies the agents had claimed to represent did not exist and that their LinkedIn accounts and websites were deleted shortly after the meetings. Most of the agents' phones were disconnected after the meetings as well.
According to the two sources speaking to Politico, the client who paid Black Cube to slander Soros and the NGOs associated with him is unknown. They also said they do not know whether Hungary's government is involved in the affair.
Black Cude said in response to the report that it is its "policy to never discuss its clients with any third party and to never confirm or deny any speculation made with regards to the company’s work. Referencing Black Cube has become an international sport in 2018, and apparently, it is considered to be more exciting even than the football World Cup to some media outlets. Black Cube supports the work of many leading law firms around the world while gathering evidence for complex legal processes, and for that purpose alone. Anyone claiming otherwise is misleading their readers. It is important to note that Black Cube always operates in full compliance with the law in every jurisdiction in which it conducts its work, following legal advice from the world’s leading law firms."
The Hungarian government has yet to comment on the matter.