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  • G4S admits overcharging MoJ £24m on electronic tagging contract

    Company has apologised to Ministry of Justice and issued credit notes for £23.3m incorrectly billed between 2005 and 2013
    G4S said that an external review had confirmed it had been wrong to consider it was contractually entitled to bill for monitoring offenders when tags had not been fitted or after they had been removed. Photograph: Jeff Blackler/REX
    Private security company G4S has admitted it has overcharged the Ministry of Justice more than £24m on its contract for the electronic monitoring of thousands of offenders in England in a practice that was going on for years.
    The admission by one of the government’s largest suppliers comes just 24 hours before G4S and other outsourcing corporate giants, Serco, Atos and Capita are due to be grilled by the powerful Commons public accounts committee on Wednesday over their failings on public sector contracts.
    G4S said an external review it had commissioned by the law firm Linklaters had confirmed it had been wrong to consider it was contractually entitled to bill for monitoring offenders when tags had not been fitted or after they had been removed.
    G4S said it had apologised to the MoJ and issued credit notes for £23.3m that had been incorrectly billed between 2005 and May 2013.
    A further credit note for £800,000 is to be issued to cover continued overcharging that has happened since June.
    The security company said the Linklaters review had not identified “any evidence of dishonesty or criminal conduct by any employee of G4S in relation to the billing arrangements under the electronic monitoring contracts.”
    The G4S statement added that it had “wrongly considered itself to be contractually entitled to bill for monitoring services when equipment had not been fitted or after it had been removed”.
    The admission by the company comes after the Serious Fraud Office announced earlier this month that it was launching a criminal investigation into G4S and Serco for overcharging on criminal justice contracts.
    The G4S statement was timed to coincide with the publication of a National Audit Office memorandum that shows that, in some instances, both contractors were charging the justice ministry for months or years after electronic monitoring activity had stopped. The charging continued even in cases where offenders had been sent back to prison or even died.
    The NAO also says the firms charged the ministry over similar timescales when electronic monitoring was never undertaken and charged multiple times for the same individual if that person was subject to more than one electronic monitoring order at the same time.
    Serco has also said it will refund any amount that it agrees represents overcharging.
    The justice ministry has not yet agreed to any refund offers made by either firm.
    In July, the justice secretary, Chris Grayling, revealed that G4S and Serco had overcharged the government by “tens of millions of pounds” on the tagging contracts. This claim was disputed at the time by G4S. Grayling also announced that accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers was carrying out a forensic audit into the contracts. A G4S whistleblower working in the call centre dealing with tagging was involved in raising initial concerns about billing practices.
    The NAO gives examples of the disputed overcharging practices in its memorandum prepared for Wednesday’s showdown between MPs and the outsourced companies. They include:
    • The justice ministry was charged £3,000 for 612 days monitoring of an offender who had been sent to prison for two years 20 months earlier. G4S removed the tagging equipment but kept on billing because the court had not provided the relevant paperwork.
    • On 28 October 2010, G4S removed tagging equipment from the address of an offender where a number of breaches of curfew had been reported. The court failed to confirm the tag was no longer required even when chased in December 2012 so billing continued until 20 May 2013. The total bill was £4,700 for 935 days without a tag being in place.
    • Serco billed £15,000 for almost five years’ monitoring in a case where it was unable to install tagging equipment in July 2008 at an address where the subject was due to be arrested. In October 2010, when Serco visited the property it was told nobody had been living there for 18 months.
    Ashley Almanza, the G4S Group chief executive, said the company’s announcement was an important step in setting the matter straight and restoring trust.
    “The way in which this contract was managed was not consistent with our values or our approach to dealing with customers. Simply put, it was unacceptable and we have apologised to the Ministry of Justice,” Almanza said.
    “As part of a wider programme of corporate renewal, we have changed the leadership of our UK business and we are putting in place enhanced risk management and contract controls.
    “We remain committed to working with the ministry and the UK government to resolve this matter and to provide enhanced oversight of service delivery and contract performance.”
    The MoJ said it was not prepared to comment while a criminal investigation was under way.
    The Cabinet Office is carrying out a government-wide review of G4S and Serco contracts but G4S said that no evidence had so far come to light that suggested that similar billing practices applied to other government contracts.
    Both Serco and G4S withdrew from the tendering process for the next generation of electronic tagging. But both companies have been allowed to bid for £450m-worth of probation contracts but will not be awarded them unless they are given a clean bill of health over the tagging dispute.
    Alan Travis, home affairs editor
    theguardian.com, Tuesday 19 November 2013 11.58 GMT
    Find this story at 19 November 2013
    © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

    Security firm G4S ‘charged for tagging the dead’

    Cost: Scandal-hit security firm G4S facing claims it charged the Government for tagged people who were either dead or back in prison
    Security firms faced a criminal probe today over claims it charged the taxpayer to tag offenders who were dead or back in prison.
    Justice Secretary Chris Grayling called in the Serious Fraud Office to consider investigating G4S Care and Justice Services, part of the company disgraced last year for failing to supply enough Olympic security staff.
    Another firm, Serco Monitoring, was also believed to have charged wrongly. Mr Grayling told MPs that the sums involved ran to “tens of millions” of pounds.
    The bombshell allegations sent the two companies’ shares on the FTSE 100 falling sharply.
    In a statement to the Commons, Mr Grayling said officials spotted “what appeared to be a significant anomaly in the billing practices” while preparing new contracts for electronic tagging.
    “It appeared that we were being charged in ways not justified by the contracts and for people who were not in fact being monitored,” he said.
    To the astonishment and fury of MPs, he added: “It included charges for people who were back in prison and had had their tags removed, people who had left the country, and those who had never been tagged in the first place.
    “There are a small number of cases where charging continued for a period when the subject was known to have died.
    “In some instances, charging continued for a period of many months and indeed years after active monitoring had ceased.”
    Mr Grayling added: “The House will share my astonishment that two of the Government’s biggest suppliers would seek to charge in this way. The House will also be surprised and disappointed to learn that staff in the Ministry of Justice were aware of a potential problem and yet did not take adequate steps to address it.”
    Serco had agreed to co-operate fully with a sweeping forensic audit, and said its senior managers were not aware. “They do not believe anything dishonest has taken place,” said Mr Grayling.
    However, G4S had refused to take part in an additional forensic audit, leaving him no option but to call in the SFO.
    “I should state that I have no information to confirm that dishonesty has taken place on the part of either supplier,” he added.
    “But given the nature of the findings of the audit work that has taken place so far, and the very clear legal advice that I have received, I am today asking the Serious Fraud Office to consider whether an investigation is appropriate into what happened in G4S.”
    But G4S sources stressed no evidence of dishonesty had been discovered by either the MoJ review or its own inquiry carried out with the assistance of external experts.
    They said the firm had co-operated fully with the MoJ and was given the choice of another audit by management consultants or a referral to the SFO.
    G4S had preferred calling in the SFO, they added, to investigate any claims of dishonesty.
    They insisted that they had found “absolutely no indication” that it had not complied with the terms of its contract.
    But shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan was stunned by the allegations.
    “To the public this appears a straightforward fraud – obtaining property by deception,” he said.
    Keith Vaz, Labour chairman of the Commons home affairs committee, added: “G4S should never have got another Government contract after the shambles of the Olympics.”
    Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude announced a government-wide review of contracts held by G4S and Serco.
    Serco Group, which runs the Boris Bike scheme, said it would repay any amount agreed to be due and that given the investigation, it had decided to withdraw from the re-tendering process for the electronic monitoring service.
    The company’s chief executive Christopher Hyman said: “We will not tolerate poor practice and behaviour and wherever it is found we will put it right.”
    Joe Murphy, Political Editor
    Nicholas Cecil
    Published: 11 July 2013
    Updated: 08:03, 12 July 2013
    Find this story at 12 July 2013
    © Evening Standard Limited

    The ‘phantom’ electronic tags that cost us millions: Firms charged taxpayers for criminals who were dead or in jail

    Taxpayers were charged tens of millions of pounds for ‘phantom’ electronic tags on criminals who were either dead, in jail or had left the country.
    Two private firms, G4S and Serco, are accused of wrongly billing for tens of thousands of tags which had either been removed or simply never fitted.
    Estimates suggest up to one in six of the 18,000 tags the Ministry of Justice was billed for every day were not real.
    Taxpayers could have overpaid two private companies for their work tagging criminals
    Last night ministers asked fraud investigators to look at G4S, after the company refused to allow forensic auditors access to its books and emails between senior executives.
    Justice Secretary Chris Grayling took the dramatic step after pledging to recover ‘every last penny’ owed to the public purse.
    Just one in ten quangos has been abolished despite the Coalition’s promise to wield the axe
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    He told MPs the scandal could date back as far as 1999, when tagging of criminals began in England and Wales. Since then the taxpayer has spent £1billion on tagging and monitoring offenders. The current contracts began in 2005.
    Mr Grayling condemned the overcharging as ‘wholly indefensible and unacceptable’. In some cases, bills were paid for months or years after tags were taken off, he said.
    Just two weeks before the start of the 2012 Olympic Games, G4S admitted it was unable to supply more than 10,000 security guards it had promised.
    Army and police personnel were drafted in to fill the gap (pictured above), with the company eventually picking up the £88million bill.
    In 2011, two G4S workers placed an electronic tag on an offender’s false leg, meaning he could simply take it off.
    Christopher Lowcock wrapped his prosthetic limb in a bandage to fool staff who set up the device in his home.
    Angolan prisoner Jimmy Mubenga died in 2010 after being restrained by G4S guards on his deportation flight. Three G4S staff were arrested on suspicion of manslaughter but charges were not brought because of a lack of evidence.
    In 2011, a set of keys went missing at Birmingham Prison, a jail managed by G4S. Inmates were locked in their cells for an entire day, and new locks had to be fitted at a cost of £250,000.
    He also launched a disciplinary investigation into former officials in the department after discovering contract managers were aware of billing issues in 2008, but ‘nothing substantive was done’.
    Details of a ‘significant anomaly in billing practices’ within the deals emerged during a routine review as ministers prepared to negotiate contracts for satellite tags.
    It found ‘charges for people who were back in prison and had their tags removed, people who had left the country and those who had never been tagged in the first place’, Mr Grayling said.
    Charges were also made in a ‘small number of cases when the subject was known to have died’.
    He added: ‘In some instances, charging continued for a period of many months and indeed years after active monitoring had ceased.’
    The bill to taxpayers is put in the ‘low tens of millions’.
    Tags are put on criminals after their early release from prison or as part of their community service.
    Most involve a 12-hour curfew from 7pm to 7am, allowing the criminal, in theory, to work. A box in the offender’s home sounds an alert if the tag goes out of range or stops working.
    Audits have also been launched into all other contracts between the Government and the two firms, both major suppliers to Whitehall. G4S received £1billion in revenue from UK Government contracts last year, while Serco made £2billion.
    Serco has withdrawn its bid from the current tendering process for new satellite tags, while G4S is expected to be excluded after refusing to pull out.
    Serco agreed to co-operate with a new audit but has said it does not believe ‘anything dishonest has taken place’.
    G4S rejected the new audit and last night a spokesman insisted it has ‘always complied totally with the terms of the contract’.
    The Serious Fraud Office will consider whether an investigation is appropriate into what happened at G4S, Mr Grayling said.
    Indefensible: Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said G4S had rejected a demand for a new forensic audit
    The firm’s reputation was shredded last year by its failure to fulfil the security contract for the Olympics. Thousands of armed forces and police personnel were called in to fill the gap and the company was forced to pick up the tab.
    In May, G4S chief executive Nick Buckles quit with a £1.2million payoff. Several senior managers were sacked in the wake of the Olympic fiasco.
    The price of shares in both firms plunged yesterday following the announcement, wiping £176.4million from G4S’s value and £269.6million from Serco.
    G4S group chief executive Ashley Almanza said: ‘We place the highest premium on customer service and integrity and therefore take very seriously the concerns expressed by the Ministry of Justice.’
    Serco group chief executive Christopher Hyman said: ‘Serco is a business led by our values and built on the strength of our reputation for integrity. We are deeply concerned if we fall short of the standards expected.’
    By Jack Doyle and Peter Campbell
    PUBLISHED: 11:52 GMT, 11 July 2013 | UPDATED: 08:19 GMT, 12 July 2013
    Find this story at 11 July 2013
    © Associated Newspapers Ltd

    G4S and Serco face £50 million fraud inquiry

    Serious Fraud Office investigates G4S claim of over-charging for government contracts
    Whitehall contracts running into billions of pounds are being urgently reviewed after the Government disclosed that two major firms had charged the taxpayer to monitor non-existent electronic tags, some of which had been assigned to dead offenders.
    In an announcement that throws the Coalition’s privatisation drive into disarray, the Serious Fraud Office was called in to investigate G4S, the world’s largest security company, over contracts dating back over a decade.
    Serco, one of Britain’s largest companies, also faces an inquiry by auditors over its charges for operating tagging schemes.
    The firms supply an array of services to the public sector from running courts, prisons and immigration removal centres to managing welfare-to-work schemes and the Atomic Weapons Establishment.
    Between them the two companies receive around £1.5bn a year from the taxpayer, but their contracts are worth billions of pounds because the vast majority run for several years.
    They were also hoping to cash in on moves by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) to hand them further large contracts to operate prisons and supervise offenders in the community.
    The process of awarding all contracts was put on hold last night as the inquiries got underway.
    The MoJ began investigating all its agreements with the two firms, including the running of major prisons, while the Cabinet Office started scrutinising all other Government contracts with G4S and Serco.
    Shares in both companies fell sharply after the announcement by Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary.
    Shares in G4S – which suffered torrid publicity over its mishandling of the last year’s London Olympics security contract – finished the day 12.6p down at 213p. Serco tumbled by 54p to 626.5p.
    Each of the companies relies heavily on Britain both for income and burnishing its international reputation. The move by the Government is unlikely to result in the wholesale loss of contracts, as the firms have few competitors of the same size but is a blow to their standing worldwide.
    Mr Grayling’s announcement came after an audit discovered G4S and Serco had overcharged taxpayers by up to £50m, billing them for offenders who were dead, back in custody or had left the country. According to one MoJ source, the companies charged for 18,000 offenders when the actual number was around 15,000.
    Mr Grayling said latest estimates suggested taxpayers had been overcharged by the companies to the tune of “low tens of millions” since the electronic monitoring contracts were signed in 2005. He also disclosed that ministry staff could have known about the practice for five years and face possible disciplinary action.
    He said in a Commons statement: “The House will share my astonishment that two of the Government’s biggest suppliers would seek to charge in this way.
    ”The House will also be surprised and disappointed to learn that staff in the Ministry of Justice were aware of the potential problem and yet did not take adequate steps to address it.“
    Mr Grayling said he was asking the Serious Fraud Office to investigate the G4S contracts as the company had refused to co-operate with a further audit to rule out wrongdoing.
    An investigation by PriceWaterhouseCoopers found that overcharging could have dated back as far back as 1999 when earlier contracts were signed.
    Serco has agreed to withdraw from the current tender process for an electronic monitoring contract worth up to £1m, while Mr Grayling plans moves to exclude G4S as it is still attempting to bid.
    Serco had also been the leading bidder for prison contracts in Yorkshire, but Mr Grayling will delay their award until the fresh audit is complete.
    An urgent review of contract management across the Ministry of Justice’s major contracts has also been launched and will report by autumn, he said.
    G4S and Serco were also among companies preparing to bid for a range of payment-by-results contracts to supervise low to medium-level offenders across England and Wales.
    Ian Lawrence, general secretary of the National Association of Probation Officers union, said: ”We’ve long maintained that these companies are unfit for purpose when it comes to holding important public contracts. The outcome of the initial investigation into G4S and Serco suggests a good deal of malpractice has been discovered.“
    Ashley Almanza, the G4S group chief executive, said: ”We place the highest premium on customer service and integrity and therefore take very seriously the concerns expressed by the Ministry of Justice. We are determined to deal with these issues in a prompt and appropriate manner.“
    Serco Group’s chief executive, Christopher Hyman, said: ”Serco is a business led by our values and built on the strength of our reputation for integrity.
    “These values lie at the heart of the many thousands of our people who are endeavouring to deliver the highest standard of service to our customers around the world. We are deeply concerned if we fall short of the standards expected of all of us.”
    Sadiq Khan, the shadow Justice Secretary, said: “Given the scale of the allegations, the Government must immediately call in the police and the Serious Fraud Office to investigate both companies as fraud has potentially taken place.”
    Security breach: Other G4S fiascos
    * G4S faced fierce criticism last year following the botched handling of its Olympics security contract. It failed to deliver the numbers of security staff it had promised and the Government was forced to bring in additional armed forces personnel. The firm will take a £70m hit over the bungled contract with Games organisers, Locog.
    * Earlier this week an inquest jury ruled an Angolan man who died after being restrained by three G4S guards as he was being deported from the UK was unlawfully killed. Jimmy Mubenga, 46, died on a plane bound for Angola in October 2010. The Crown Prosecution Service said it would reconsider its decision not to bring criminal charges in the wake of the verdict.
    * In January, multimillion-pound plans by three police forces to outsource services to G4S collapsed. Hertfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner, David Lloyd, said the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Strategic Alliance had discontinued negotiations with the firm.
    However, last month it was revealed Lincolnshire’s police force now spends the lowest amount per head of population on policing in England and Wales after it handed over the bulk of its back-office functions to G4S.
    Nigel Morris
    Friday 12 July 2013
    Find this story at 12 July 2013
    © independent.co.uk

    G4S faces fraud investigation over tagging contracts

    Justice secretary tells MPs he has called in Serious Fraud Office to investigate private security firm for overcharging
    The overcharging included billing for tracking the movements of people who had died. Photograph: David Davies/PA
    The Serious Fraud Office has been called in by the justice secretary to investigate the private security company G4S for overcharging tens of millions of pounds on electronic tagging contracts for offenders.
    Chris Grayling told MPs the overcharging included billing for tracking the movements of people who had moved abroad, those who had returned to prison and had their tags removed, and even people who had died.
    He said he had made the decision after G4S refused on Wednesday to co-operate with a voluntary forensic audit of its billing practices and to withdraw as a potential bidder for the next generation of tagging contracts worth up to £3bn.
    “At this time I do not have evidence of dishonesty by G4S but I have invited the Serious Fraud Office to investigate that,” he said.
    Whitehall sources say that a new forensic audit will look at a central allegation that the justice ministry was being billed for the tagging of 18,000 offenders a day when only 15,000 were actually being monitored – raising the prospect of being charged for 3,000 “phantom” offenders or one in six of all those on tags.
    Grayling told MPs that G4S and a second major supplier, Serco, had been overcharging on the existing £700m contract, with the Ministry of Justice being billed for non-existent services that dated back to at least 2005 and possibly as long ago as 1999.
    Grayling added that it included charging for monitoring people who were back in prison and had had their tags removed, people who had left the country, and those who had never been tagged in the first place.
    “There are a small number of cases where charging continued for a period when the subject was known to have died,” he told the Commons.
    “In some instances, charging continued for a period of many months and indeed years after active monitoring ceased. This is a wholly indefensible and unacceptable state of affairs. The house will share my astonishment that two of the government’s biggest suppliers would seek to charge in this way.”
    Shares in Serco fell about 8% and for G4S almost 6% by the close on Thursday.
    The decision to call in the SFO follows an audit by PricewaterhouseCoopers commissioned by Grayling in May after billing discrepancies were discovered during a re-tendering process. Under the contracts the movements of more than 20,000 offenders are monitored using electronic ankle tags at any one time.
    “The audit team is at present confirming its calculations but the current estimate is that the sums involved are significant, and run into the low tens of millions in total, for both companies, since the contracts commenced in 2005,” Grayling said.
    Serco, which is one of the government’s biggest and most important suppliers, agreed on Wednesday to fully co-operate with a forensic audit to establish whether any dishonesty took place on its part. It has also agreed to withdraw from bidding for the £3bn next-generation tagging contract.
    “They have said they take the issue extremely seriously and assure me that senior management were not aware of it. They do not believe anything dishonest has taken place, but we have agreed that if the audit does show dishonest action, we will jointly call in the authorities to address it,” Grayling said.
    Serco was the leading bidder to take over the management of a prison in South Yorkshire. Grayling said that decision had now been delayed until the voluntary forensic audit was completed.
    The Cabinet Office is to review all G4S and Serco contracts held across government as a result of the tagging scandal. The Cabinet Office minister, Francis Maude, had already started preparations for a register of companies holding public sector contracts to detail their track record in the wake of G4S’s failure last year to fulfil its contract to provide security guards for the London Olympics.
    Grayling, who had the attorney general, Dominic Grieve QC, next to him when he made his Commons statement, said he had taken the decision to call in the SFO “given the nature of the findings of the audit work that had taken place so far, and the very clear legal advice that I have received”.
    He said the SFO was being asked to consider whether an investigation was appropriate, and to confirm “whether any of the actions of anyone in that company represent more than a contractual breach”.
    The justice secretary has started a formal process to determine whether to exclude G4S from the next 10-year tagging contract which is due to start shortly. He has also taken action within the justice ministry after disclosing that his own officials became aware in a limited way of some of the problems in 2008 but failed to take adequate steps to address them.
    He said an entirely new contract management team had been put in place. “The permanent secretary is also instituting disciplinary investigations to consider whether failings on the part of individual members of staff constitute misconduct”, he said.
    The shadow justice secretary, Sadiq Khan, said the disclosures were “truly shocking” and the police should be called in immediately to investigate Serco as well as G4S. “There can be no cosy relationship with either company if we are to truly get to the bottom of these very serious allegations,” he said.
    G4S said the justice ministry was an important customer and it was committed to resolving its concerns. It said it was conducting its own review and would reimburse any overbilling it identified. It said it was not aware of any indications of dishonesty or misconduct.
    Ashley Almanza, the G4S chief executive, said: “We are committed to having close and open relationships with our customers and we strive to work in partnership for the mutual benefit of our organisations.
    “We place the highest premium on customer service and integrity and therefore take very seriously the concerns expressed by the Ministry of Justice. We are determined to deal with these issues in a prompt and appropriate manner.”
    Serco Group’s chief executive, Christopher Hyman, said: “Serco is a business led by our values and built on the strength of our reputation for integrity. These values lie at the heart of the many thousands of our people who are endeavouring to deliver the highest standard of service to our customers around the world. We are deeply concerned if we fall short of the standards expected of all of us.”
    Alan Travis, home affairs editor
    The Guardian, Friday 12 July 2013
    Find this story at 12 July 2013
    © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

    G4S and Serco: Taxpayers overcharged by tens of millions over electronic tagging

    Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary, has asked the Serious Fraud Office to investigate security firm G4S after a review found the Government had been overcharged by tens of millions of pounds in its electronic tagging contract.
    A review has found G4S and rival security company Serco both over-billed the taxpayer for running the tagging schemes, in what the minister said was a “wholly indefensible and unacceptable state of affairs”.
    It included charging the government for tagging offenders who had died, been returned to prison, left the country or who had never been put on the tagging scheme in the first place, Mr Grayling told the House of Commons.
    Ministry of Justice sources said although they typically had 15,000 offenders on a tag at any one time G4S and Serco had been charging them for 18,000 – meaning one in six was spurious.
    It also emerged civil servants first became aware of some of the problems in 2008 but failed to take appropriate action – and Mr Grayling said some may now face disciplinary action.
    “I am angry at what has happened and am determined to put it right,” said Mr Grayling.
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    “This has included instances where our suppliers were not in fact providing electronic monitoring.
    “It included charges for people who were back in prison and had had their tags removed, people who had left the country, and those who had never been tagged in the first place but who had instead been returned to court.
    “There are a small number of cases where charging continued for a period when the subject was known to have died.
    “In some instances, charging continued for a period of many months and indeed years after active monitoring had ceased.
    “The House will share my view that this is a wholly indefensible and unacceptable state of affairs.
    Mr Grayling said he expected MPs would share his “astonishment” that two of the government’s two biggest contractors would behave in such a way.
    He added: “The audit team is at present confirming its calculations but the current estimate is that the sums involved are significant, and run into the low tens of millions in total, for both companies, since the contracts commenced in 2005.
    “It may date back as far as the previous contracts let in 1999.”
    Serco has agreed with a Ministry of Justice proposal for a further investigation, and allow inspection of its internal emails.
    But G4S, which was widely criticised for its failure to fulfil security requirements at last year’s Olympics, has rejected that proposal, said Mr Grayling.
    “I should state that I have no information to confirm that dishonesty has taken place on the part of either supplier,” he told MPs.
    “But given the nature of the findings of the audit work that has taken place so far, and the very clear legal advice that I have received, I am today asking the Serious Fraud Office to consider whether an investigation is appropriate into what happened in G4S, and to confirm to me whether any of the actions of anyone in that company represent more than a contractual breach.”
    Mr Grayling first launched an investigation into G4S and Serco in May after an internal audit uncovered a “significant anomaly” in the billing process.
    The Ministry of Justice brought in external auditors to find out how much the two companies have incorrectly claimed from the taxpayer, which uncovered the remarkable details announced by Mr Grayling to the Commons.
    He said: “I am making changes in my department because it is quite clear that the management of these contracts has been wholly inadequate.
    “Enough knowledge came into the department to find out about these issues some years ago but it was not acted upon.
    “Proceedings are likely to include, or may well include, disciplinary proceedings to establish precisely what did go wrong.”
    Spending on electronic tagging has run to £700 million since G4S and Serco were handed the contracts.
    Mr Grayling said no-one had been put in danger and the problem was purely to do with the billing arrangements. The contracts were awarded by the Labour government in 2004 and are ministers are currently going through a process to re-allocate the work.
    Serco has pulled out of the bidding process but Mr Grayling said he was “disappointed that G4S still feel it appropriate to participate”.
    By David Barrett, Home Affairs Correspondent
    12:40PM BST 11 Jul 2013
    Find this story at 11 July 2013
    © Copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited 2013

    Olympic gaffe security company in bid to print money: G4S teams up with French firm for £1bn tender G4S has faced calls to be barred from public work after a string of scandals

    The shambolic Olympic security firm G4S is bidding for the right to print Britain’s banknotes, it emerged last night.
    The embattled group has teamed up with a French company to try to get its hands on the lucrative £1billion contract.
    Currently the work is done by the British firm De La Rue, which was first commissioned to print UK banknotes at the outbreak of the First World War.
    G4S, which has faced calls to be barred from public work after a string of scandals, wants to take over the contract
    Now G4S, which has faced calls to be barred from public work after a string of scandals, wants to take over the contract.
    It has joined forces with France’s Oberthur Technologies, which would take control of the printing process itself.
    Labour MP Keith Vaz, who has called for the company to be blacklisted from future taxpayer contracts, demanded G4S pull out of the bidding.
    He said: ‘G4s have failed the public on numerous occasions.
    ‘At a recent public meeting Jon Shaw, a G4S director, agreed with the Home Affairs Select Committee that companies that fail to deliver on public contracts should be on a high risk register.
    The group faced public outrage last summer when it failed to provide enough guards for the Olympic venues. The army was drafted in to make up the shortfall
    ‘In light of this they should withdraw their application for this important contract until they have got their house in order.’
    Before 2003 the Bank of England managed its own banknote printing.
    In 2003 the Bank gave the work to De La Rue, which has held the contract for ten years.
    Now it is has put the job out to tender.
    The winning company will be responsible for printing notes from 2015 to 2025, with the possibility of extending the work even further to 2028.
    But even if G4S and its Franco partner win, they will have to print the notes in the UK.
    Any successful company can only print the notes using the Bank’s secure printing works in Debden in the Epping Forest.
    From there the notes are taken securely to the Bank’s cash distribution centres around the country.
    The Bank has issued paper banknotes ever since the central bank was created in 1694 as a way of raising money for King William III’s war against France.
    But now it is planning to issue plastic notes, which can survive a spin in the washing machine.
    Polymer banknotes, as well as being hard to fake, are durable and stay cleaner for longer because the material is more resistant to dirt and moisture.
    Whichever firm wins the contract will have to be able to produce them as well as paper notes, the Bank has said.
    Current provider De La Rue entered the plastic banknote market earlier this year with deals to supply Fiji and Mauritius.
    G4S has been embroiled in a number of public blunders over the last 18 months.
    The group faced public outrage last summer when it failed to provide enough guards for the Olympic venues.
    The army was drafted in to make up the shortfall, and G4S was forced to pay compensation.
    In July the company was accused of charging taxpayers for electronic tags on prisoners who were either dead, in jail or had left the country.
    Ministers said they would review the company’s entire portfolio of government work – worth almost £1billion a year.
    The blunders happened on the watch of flamboyant boss Nick Buckles, who was forced to resign earlier this year after a humiliating warning that the company’s profits would fall short of expectations.
    G4S refused to comment last night. The Bank of England also refused to comment.
    By Peter Campbell
    PUBLISHED: 01:11 GMT, 27 September 2013 | UPDATED: 13:31 GMT, 27 September 2013
    Find this story at 27 September 2013
    © Associated Newspapers Ltd

    Was Spionagefirmen in Deutschland für die USA treiben

    Die US-Geheimdienste sammeln so viele Daten, dass sie alleine nicht hinterherkommen. Deswegen mieten sie Zusatzkräfte bei privaten Dienstleistern. Die arbeiten wie Spione – auch in Deutschland.

    Ein einfacher Miet-Hacker kostet die US-Regierung 117,99 Dollar die Stunde. Sollte er noch etwas mehr können – die US-Firma MacAulay Brown bewirbt auf ihrer Internetseite Computerspezialisten von “Level 1” bis “Level 4” -, dann wird es teurer: bis zu 187,30 Dollar die Stunde. Und das sind schon die reduzierten Preise für Regierungsaufträge, heißt es in einem Prospekt im Internet (hier als PDF).

    Die USA spionieren auf der ganzen Welt, und der Staat allein kommt nicht mehr hinterher, alle Informationen zu verarbeiten. Deswegen setzen Militär und Geheimdienste auf private Firmen, die ihnen zuliefern, auf sogenannte Contractors. Ein Milliardenmarkt. Große Konzerne wie CSC, L-3 Communications, SAIC und Booz Allen Hamilton haben Zehntausende Mitarbeiter. Die Firmen pflegen die Computer der US-Truppen, warten die Datenbanken der Geheimdienste, sortieren Unterlagen. Und manchmal schicken sie “Analysten”: Mitarbeiter, die die nackten Informationen der Geheimdienste für Einsatzbesprechungen zusammenfassen. Alle wichtigen Contractors haben auch Aufträge in Deutschland.
    Alle Geheimdienst-Aufträge an Privatfirmen in Deutschland

    Was treiben die USA in Deutschland? Antworten finden sich auch in einer offiziellen US-Datenbank. Hier finden Sie alle Verträge für Geheimdienstarbeiten in Deutschland.

    Die Bundesrepublik ist einer der wichtigsten Stützpunkte der USA, allein im Fiskaljahr 2012 haben sie hier drei Milliarden Dollar ausgegeben. Mehr als im Irak, und auch mehr als in Südkorea – wo die US-Armee tatsächlich einem Feind im Norden gegenübersteht. Von Deutschland aus kämpfen die USA gegen einen Feind, der weit weg ist: Wenn in Somalia US-Drohnen vermeintliche Terroristen beschießen, läuft das über Stuttgart, wo das Hauptquartier für US-Afrika-Missionen sitzt. Auch im Drohnenkrieg sind private Firmen beteiligt, deren Mitarbeiter warten die Fluggeräte, sie kalibrieren die Laser, sie sammeln die Informationen zur Zielerfassung.

    Den größten Umsatz mit Analysten auf deutschem Boden verbucht die Firma SOS International, kurz SOSi, an die bislang 61 Millionen Dollar geflossen sind – so steht es in der US-Datenbank für Staatsaufträge. Gerade sucht SOSi neue Mitarbeiter für den Standort Darmstadt. Es geht um die Auswertung von Geo-Daten: Wer ist wann wo? Auf welcher Straße fährt der Mensch in Somalia, der vielleicht ein Terrorist ist, immer abends nach Hause? Informationen, die für tödliche Drohnenschläge verwendet werden können. Geospatial-Analysten verwandeln die Signale der Satelliten in bunte Bilder – und finden darin die Zielperson. Die Konsequenzen zieht der US-Militärapparat.
    (Foto: Screenshot exelisvis.com)

    Wie sehr die USA in Deutschland auf die privaten Helfer setzen, zeigt ein Auftrag an die Firma Caci aus dem Jahr 2009. Der US-Konzern bekam fast 40 Millionen Dollar, um SIGINT-Analysten nach Deutschland zu schicken. SIGINT steht für Signals Intelligence: Informationen, die Geheimdienste im Internet gesammelt haben. Dabei ist Caci nicht irgendein Unternehmen. Ihre Mitarbeiter waren 2003 als Befrager im US-Gefängnis Abu Ghraib im Irak eingesetzt, aus dem später die Bilder eines Folterskandals um die Welt gingen: Nackte Häftlinge, aufgestapelt zu menschlichen Pyramiden, angeleint wie Hunde und selbst nach ihrem Tod noch misshandelt – fotografiert von grinsenden US-Soldaten und ihren Helfern. Zwei Untersuchungsberichte der US-Armee kamen später zu dem Schluss, dass Caci-Leute an Misshandlungen beteiligt waren. Caci bestreitet das.

    Die Episode zeigt: Die Contractors stecken tief drin in Amerikas schmutzigen Kriegen. Jeder fünfte Geheimdienstmitarbeiter ist in Wahrheit bei einer privaten Firma angestellt. Das geht aus den geheimen Budgetplänen der US-Geheimdienste hervor, die dank des Whistleblowers Edward Snowden öffentlich wurden. Snowden ist der wohl berühmteste Ex-Angestellte eines Contractors, bis Juni arbeitete er als Systemadministrator für Booz Allen Hamilton. Der Konzern übernimmt viele IT-Jobs für US-Behörden, so hatte Snowden Zugriff auf hochsensible Unterlagen, die streng geheime Operationen von amerikanischen und britischen Geheimdiensten belegen – obwohl er nicht einmal direkt bei einem US-Geheimdienst arbeitete. Viele Contractors haben Zugriff auf das Allerheiligste. Auf die vom Geheimdienst gesammelten Daten, und auf die interne Kommunikation.

    Genau diese Aufgaben sorgen auch für hohe Umsätze in Deutschland. Caci und der Konkurrent SAIC haben zusammen hierzulande in den vergangenen Jahren Hunderte Millionen Dollar umgesetzt. Der Konzern suchte noch vor Kurzem in Stellenausschreibungen Entwickler für das Programm XKeyscore. Nachdem der Guardian enthüllt hatte, dass der US-Geheimdienst NSA damit Bewegungen im Internet von E-Mails bis Facebook-Chats live verfolgen kann, gingen die Gesuche offline. Eine SAIC-Sprecherin betonte, dieses Geschäft sei in dem im September abgespaltenen Unternehmen Leidos aufgegangen. Weitere Fragen ließ sie unbeantwortet.

    Die CIA beteiligt sich sogar über eine eigene Investmentfirma names In-Q-Tel an Start-ups, um später deren Technologie nutzen zu können. Auch personell sind die beiden Welten verbunden: Der oberste US-Geheimdienstdirektor James R. Clapper war erst Chef des Militärgeheimdienstes DIA, dann beim Contractor Booz Allen Hamilton und kehrte schließlich in den Staatsdienst zurück – er soll die Arbeit aller US-Nachrichtendienste koordinieren. Arbeit, die oft privatisiert wird, wovon Unternehmen wie sein ehemaliger Arbeitgeber profitieren.

    Die Beziehungen zwischen Privatfirmen und dem Staat sind so eng, dass Contractors Büros in US-Militärbasen beziehen. Für MacAulay Brown saß bis vor einem Jahr ein Mitarbeiter auf dem Gelände des Dagger-Complexes in Griesheim. Der Standort gilt als Brückenkopf der NSA. Der Mitarbeiter von MacAulay Brown hatte die gleiche Telefonnummer wie die dort stationierten Truppen und eine eigene Durchwahl. Als gehörte er dazu.
    Ein Soldat vor einer sogenannten “Shadow”-Drohne in der US-Basis in Vilseck-Grafenwöhr (Foto: REUTERS)

    16. November 2013 11:31 Amerikanische Auftragnehmer
    Von Bastian Brinkmann,Oliver Hollenstein und Antonius Kempmann

    Find this story at 16 November 2013

    Copyright: Süddeutsche Zeitung Digitale Medien GmbH / Süddeutsche Zeitung GmbH

    Duurzaam afwimpelen

    Hoe duurzaam koopt de overheid in? (Met wie werkt ze dus samen?)

    In nota’s stelt de overheid een actief inkoopbeleid voor te staan van duurzaam geproduceerde producten voor haar ambtenaren, alsmede de aanstelling van extern adhoc-personeel gebonden aan sociale voorwaarden. Mooie woorden, maar de praktijk is echter weerbarstig, zo blijkt.

    Op de website Helpdesk Duurzaam Inkopen http://helpdeskduurzaaminkopen.nlvan de bedrijven consultancy DHV en Significant (bekend van het onderzoek naar de Wet op de Uitgebreide identificatieplicht) wordt de film An Inconvenient Truth van Al Gore genoemd als aanjager van het duurzaamheidsdebat. Dagblad Trouw kopte op 28 februari 2007 ‘Al Gore is hypocriet’. In het artikel wordt het energiegebruik van de voormalig vicepresident van de VS vergeleken met dat van een doorsnee huishouden in de staat Tenessee. Gore gebruikte toen veertien keer zoveel energie als een gemiddelde Amerikaan.

    Het voorbeeld van Gore geeft aan dat het duurzaamheidsdebat niet eenvoudig verloopt. Daarbij gaat het niet om de boodschap – er vindt klimaatverandering plaats – maar om de definitie, de controle en het toezicht. Is die controle en toezicht wel mogelijk als er geen transparantie is? Wimpelt de overheid haar verantwoordelijkheid ten aanzien van haar eigen inkopen niet af op bedrijven, NGO’s, ketens en uiteindelijk de werknemers die de producten en diensten verzorgen voor die overheid? En weten we eigenlijk wel met wie de overheid samenwerkt (DHV, Significant?) of wordt dat ook overgelaten aan de markt?

    Duurzaam inkopen

    De duurzaamheidsgedachte heeft sinds enkele jaren postgevat binnen het inkoopbeleid van de Nederlandse overheid, het zogenaamde duurzaam inkopen. De website van de twee consultancy bedrijven is daar dan ook op gericht. De overheid is een grote consument en betrekt allerlei goederen en diensten van het bedrijfsleven. Vanuit de milieulobby, maar ook de derde wereld beweging, is jarenlang druk uitgeoefend om de overheid te bewegen zelf het goede voorbeeld te geven. Bij duurzaamheid gaat het zowel om milieu-aspecten als om sociale aspecten. Denk aan het ondersteunen van de fiets en de trein in het kader van het woon-werkverkeer en de Max Havelaar koffie in de kantine.

    Duurzaam inkopen, zoals het door de overheid wordt genoemd, vindt zijn oorsprong in de Nota Milieu en Economie uit 1997. Er volgden allerlei andere nota’s, rapporten, initiatieven, pilots en targets. De Monitor Duurzaam Inkopen 2010 meldt vervolgens trots dat de doelen voor dat jaar ruimschoots bereikt zijn: ‘Het Rijk heeft 99.8 procent duurzame inkopen gerealiseerd (doelstelling 100 procent), Provincies 96 procent (doelstelling 50 procent), waterschappen 85 procent, gemeenten 87-90 procent (doelstelling 75 procent), universiteiten 80 procent, hogescholen 95 procent en het middelbaar beroepsonderwijs 75 procent.

    Indrukwekkende cijfers en geslaagd beleid zou je zeggen. Een rapport van KPMG uit 2010 voor het toenmalig ministerie van Infrastructuur en Milieu concludeert dat de inkoop van de schoonmaak bij de overheid 100 procent duurzaam is (Monitor Duurzaam Inkopen 2010 Resultaten monitoringonderzoek duurzaam inkopen 2010 KPMG juni 2010).

    Nu is met betrekking tot het milieu de inkoop nog redelijk te volgen. De kantinebeheerder gebruikt alleen biologische producten, de minister fietst tussen werk en privé, de dienstauto is een hybride en er wordt geen chloor gebruikt in het toilet op het ministerie van Veiligheid en Justitie.

    Bij de sociale aspecten is het echter een stuk lastiger. Hanteert het ingehuurde schoonmaakbedrijf wel de ‘fundamentele’ fatsoensnormen, en wat zijn die? Krijgen mensen wel een redelijk loon naar arbeid? En wie controleert eigenlijk of aan die sociale voorwaarden van het duurzaam inkopen is voldaan? De recente stakingsacties van de schoonmakers bij de ministeries van Sociale Zaken en Buitenlandse Zaken maakt duidelijk dat de prachtige percentages in de monitor van 2010 niet veel zeggen over de kwaliteit van de duurzaamheid en ook vragen oproepen over de controle op de inkopen.

    Klein inkoopbeleid

    De overheid ziet natuurlijk in dat een solide beleid dat niet één-twee-drie te organiseren valt. Men geeft aan dat het duurzame inkoopbeleid alleen geldt voor ‘alle EU-aanbestedingen en openbare nationale aanbestedingen en meervoudig onderhandse offerteaanvragen groter dan € 50.000 (exclusief BTW)’. (Website PIANOo, Expertisecentrum Aanbesteden van het ministerie van Economische Zaken, Infrastructuur en Innovatie). De kleinere inkopen behoeven in principe niet duurzaam te zijn. Bij de aanschaf van bureaustoelen bijvoorbeeld bij een waarde hoger dan € 50.000 kan de duurzaamheid van het product zelfs redelijk precies worden geformuleerd.

    De rijksoverheid schrijft dat bij ‘de belangrijkste milieuaspecten, de volledige levensloop van het product of de dienst in beschouwing wordt genomen.’ Hierbij gaat het om de kwaliteit en de afkomst van de materialen waarvan de stoel is gemaakt, hoe lang deze mee gaat. Een stoel van gerecycled plastic uit Nederland is duurzamer dan een stoel van hard hout afkomstig uit het Amazone gebied in Brazilië.

    Hoe zit het echter met de mobiele telefoons die de overheid aanschaft? In veel smartphones en andere telecommunicatie materialen zijn zeldzame (edel)metalen verwerkt en meestal niet gerecycled. De overheid zal geen tweede hands apparatuur via Marktplaats aanschaffen. En die metalen komen meestal uit conflictgebieden zoals de documentaire Blood in my mobile ons laat zien. In die documentaire gaat het overigens vooral om Nokia telefoons.

    De exacte afkomst van materialen is ook vaak lastig te bepalen. Apple zal bijvoorbeeld aangeven dat de metalen uit de iphones zijn betrokken van allerlei tussenhandelaren. Ook schermen bedrijven vaak met de term bedrijfsgeheim. Het Green Public Procurement Mobile Phones Technical Background Report van de Europese Unie, DG-Environment by Forum for the Future/BRE 2011, stelt echter dat bedrijven die willen meedingen bij een aanbesteding het eigen beleid ten aanzien van metalen uit Congo moeten openbaren. ‘Asking bidders to disclose their policies on sourcing from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has been included in the criteria based on industry evidence and recent developments in U.S. Law’.

    Hoe betrouwbaar is echter de mededeling van Nokia dat ze geen Coltan, columbite-tantalite, uit Congo gebruiken? En wie gaat het controleren? Het beleid rond duurzaam inkopen van de overheid wil die tekortkomingen opvangen door bedrijven te wijzen op hun keten-aansprakelijkheid. Bij de keten gaat het om het gehele traject van ruwe materialen tot de afnemer. Keten-aansprakelijk is er op gericht om ‘verbeteringen in de keten’ aan te brengen doordat bedrijven en instellingen controle en toezicht uitvoeren.

    De controle en het toezicht op de ruwe materialen van producten betreft het niet alleen conflictgebieden. Met ijzer toegepast in een bureaustoel lijkt niet veel aan de hand, maar als de ijzerertsmijn al het water onttrekt aan de regio kan het voor boeren en bewoners in de omgeving van een mijn vreselijke gevolgen hebben. Hoe is dat goed te controleren en wie houdt daar toezicht op? Is na te gaan welk ijzererts de basis is geweest voor het ijzer in de stoel?


    In de communicatie rondom duurzaam inkopen lijkt het zwaartepunt dan ook te liggen op energiezuinigheid en de afvalverwerking van bijvoorbeeld stoelen, computers en gebouwen. Tussen de bestaande ketens die het ministerie opsomt in het kader van de keten-aansprakelijkheid bevinden zich op dit moment nog geen ketens die verantwoordelijk zijn voor kantoormeubilair, elektronica en gebouwen.

    Bij keten-aansprakelijkheid gaat het niet alleen om de milieuaspecten van de goederen en diensten. Vooral bij de sociale voorwaarden wordt de keten gezien als een belangrijke promotor van duurzaamheid. Agentschap NL van het ministerie van Economische Zaken, Landbouw en Innovatie (ministerie van ELI) vermeldt: ‘Voor inkopers is niet makkelijk na te gaan of er ergens in de productieketen kinderarbeid is verricht of medewerkers voor een hongerloon hebben gewerkt’. Die kinderarbeid is meestal iets dat plaatsvindt in landen als China en India, weggestopt op het platteland of in een miljoenenstad.

    Apple bijvoorbeeld ligt onder vuur vanwege arbeidsomstandigheden bij haar Chinese toeleveranciers van iphones. Eind 2011 waren de slechte omstandigheden in de fabrieken waar onderdelen van Apple worden gemaakt in het nieuws naar aanleiding van een golf van zelfmoorden onder arbeiders. In een markt waar de marges klein zijn, zullen de andere producenten echter niet veel beter presteren. Apple had de pech dat enkele werknemers de stilte verbraken.

    Het voorbeeld van Apple maakt duidelijk dat misstanden niet eenvoudig zijn op te sporen, misschien zelfs niet voor het bedrijf zelf. Apple zegt dat zij het toezicht op de fabrieken zal verscherpen, maar of dat voldoende is, is onduidelijk. Het Agentschap NL geeft daarom aan dat het voor de inkoper lastig is, zeker als bij de keten allerlei bedrijven of productielijnen in het buitenland betrokken zijn.

    De recente protesten van de schoonmakers maken duidelijk dat het duurzame inkopen wat betreft sociale voorwaarden zelfs op lokaal niveau geen sinecure is. Bij die voorwaarden wordt in een folder van het ministerie van ELI verwezen naar ‘fundamentele normen in de verdragen van Internationale Arbeidsorganisatie en de normen in de Universele Verklaring van de Rechten van de Mens (UVRM)’. Een deel van de algemene normen is afkomstig van conventies van de Internationale Arbeidsorganisatie (ILO), zoals de afschaffing van dwangarbeid en slavernij, de vrijwaring van discriminatie op het werk en in beroep, de afschaffing van kinderarbeid, de vrijheid van vakvereniging en recht op collectief onderhandelen.

    Een ander deel betreft de mensenrechten uit het UVRM, uitgewerkt in bindende verdragen als het BuPo en Esocul. De overheid heeft ten aanzien van duurzaam inkopen deze algemene normen nog eens aangescherpt met aanvullende normen. Er kan eigenlijk niets fout gaan met dat inkoopbeleid, zou je denken. Met zoveel indrukwekkende normen zal niet het eerste de beste schoonmaakbedrijf aan de slag gaan op het ministerie van Sociale Zaken. De praktijk is weerbarstig, zoals blijkt.

    Controle beperkt

    Natuurlijk is de controle voor de overheid beperkt, misschien zelfs onmogelijk, zoals het Agentschap NL over de taak van de inkoper schrijft, maar wat valt er dan nog duurzaam in te kopen? In het beleid nemen de keten-initiatieven een centrale rol in. Bedrijven kunnen zich bij deze initiatieven aansluiten. De initiatieven ‘zijn organisaties waarin verschillende partijen samenwerken om zicht te krijgen op de productieketen en om te beïnvloeden dat er betere sociale voorwaarden in de keten komen’.

    In de communicatie over Duurzaam inkopen worden de volgende keten-initiatieven opgesomd: ‘Fair Flowers Fair Plants (FFP) voor bloemen en planten, Fair Wear Foundation voor kleding, Max Havelaar voor voedingsmiddelen, bloemen, katoen, cosmetica en verzorging, Union for Ethical BioTrade voor voedsel, cosmetica, farmacie, decoratie UTZ Certified voor koffie, thee, cacao, palmolie en Social Accountability International voor alles.’

    Bij de verschillende initiatieven lijken zowel consumenten als producenten vertegenwoordigd, maar wie verricht de controle in de fabrieken? Het voorbeeld van Apple laat zien dat sociale normen, controle en toezicht op papier nog niets zeggen over de daadwerkelijke omstandigheden en eventuele verbeteringen. Belangen van producenten en consumenten liggen soms heel ver uit elkaar.

    Het ministerie geeft dit in een folder ook aan: ‘De criteria voor duurzaam inkopen adresseren sociale aspecten en milieu-aspecten. Tegelijkertijd moet voorkomen worden dat de criteria een negatieve invloed hebben op het ‘profit’-aspect. De toepassing van de criteria dient daarom over het geheel genomen niet te leiden tot substantiële meerkosten’, vermeldt het Toetsingskader criteria duurzaam inkopen van 1 juni 2010.

    ‘Substantiële meerkosten’ is een rekbaar begrip. De overheid wil zelf ook voor een dubbeltje op de eerste rij zitten. Bij de aanbesteding van de schoonmaak van de toiletten zal de goedkoopste aanbieder toch eerder gekozen worden dan de dure aanbieder die zijn werknemers een respectvol salaris betaalt. De folder van het ministerie uit juni 2010 vermeldt daarom dat bij de ‘milieugerelateerde criteria gebruik wordt gemaakt van bestaande kennis bij inkopers, bedrijven, NGO’s, brancheorganisaties, kennisinstituten en recente onderzoeken’.

    Het keten-initiatief Fair Flowers Fair Plants (FFP) geeft aan dat ‘FFP-bloemen en planten een traject volgen van producent tot aan het verkooppunt. Elke schakel in de keten moet lid zijn van Fair Flowers Fair Plants en moet bewijzen dat het om FFP producten gaat.’ Bij de controles wordt gelet op milieu-eisen (gewasbeschermingsmiddelen, meststoffen, energie, water en afval) en sociale eisen (veiligheid, gezondheid en arbeidsomstandigheden).

    Bij controles zijn feitelijke omstandigheden makkelijker vast te stellen da ‘menselijke factoren’. Is de vakbond ook daadwerkelijk een vakbond van de werknemers zelf of heeft het bedrijf de bond opgezet om bij de keten te horen? Over milieu-criteria is het ministerie van ELI helder: ‘Voor de milieu gerelateerde criteria wordt gebruik gemaakt van bestaande kennis bij inkopers, bedrijven, NGO’s, brancheorganisaties, kennisinstituten en recente onderzoeken.’ De sociale criteria zijn niet geformuleerd omdat de ‘contouren van de sociale criteria thans nog worden uitgewerkt tot criteria die bij het inkopen kunnen worden gebruikt

    Sociale voorwaarden

    De overheid erkent de problemen met betrekking tot de sociale voorwaarden en daarom is onder het kopje ‘duurzaamheid: people, planet, profit’ een ‘redelijke inspanning’ geformuleerd: ‘Omdat het moeilijk is alles wat in de keten gebeurt te kennen, vraagt de overheid een inspanningsverplichting van de leverancier en geen resultaatsverplichting.’ Zodra Apple kan aangeven dat zij de fabrieken écht regelmatig bezoekt dan kan de iphone nog voor duurzaam doorgaan, ondanks de slechte arbeidsomstandigheden.

    Bij de inspanning gaat het om ‘de grootte van de opdracht, de frequentie van de relatie met toeleveranciers, de machtsverhoudingen tussen partijen in de keten, de kenbaarheid van de situatie in de keten.’ Het schoonmaakbedrijf dat zijn werknemers slecht behandelt en betaalt kan ook voor duurzaam doorgaan door te verwijzen naar de ‘machtsverhoudingen tussen partijen in de keten.’ Het probeert de sociale voorwaarden na te komen, maar slaagt daar duidelijk niet in omdat de werknemers uit onvrede de straat op gaan.

    Het is voor de ambtenaar die een duurzame mobiele telefoon of bureaustoel wil aanschaffen, dan wel schoonmakers wil aanstellen bepaald geen eenvoudige klus. Hij kan alles aan de markt over laten en hopen dat de keten-initiatieven verbeteringen in de sociale voorwaarden teweeg zullen brengen, maar het kan ook mis gaan. De toiletten worden vervolgens niet meer schoon gemaakt, de stoelen gaan na drie jaar in plaats van vijf jaar stuk en in de telefoon zit tóch Coltan verwerkt volgens een documentairemaker.

    Inspanningsverplichting, ketenaansprakelijkheid… uiteindelijk gaat het om onderzoek die misstanden aan het licht brengt, zoals in het geval van Apple. Onderzoek door journalisten of niet gouvernementele organisaties. Het ministerie geeft dan ook als tip aan het bedrijfsleven dat zij ‘de gegevens kunnen raadplegen die zijn bijeengebracht door onderzoeksinstanties en NGO’s.’ Verschillende NGO’s hebben zich ook aangesloten bij keten-initiatieven. De vakbonden, FNV Bondgenoten en CNV dienstenbond, en de NGO de Clean Clothes Campaign hebben zich bij de kledingketen aangesloten (Fair Wear Foundation).

    Vraag is echter of het doorverwijzen naar NGO’s en onderzoeksinstanties niet wat al te gemakkelijk is. Waar ligt de verantwoordelijkheid van de overheid zelf? Het voorbeeld van de schoonmakers laat zien dat bij zoiets essentieels als een schone werkplek het al fout gaat. Hoe zit het dan met het kantoormeubilair of de gebruikte communicatiemiddelen? Misschien is de koffie wel zuiver, maar de communicatie niet?

    Daarnaast wordt er al jaren bezuinigd op het maatschappelijk middenveld en ontwikkelingsorganisaties. Wordt duurzaam inkopen straks niet het afchecken van de inspanning van een bedrijf? En bestaan de ketens in de toekomst alleen nog maar uit de producenten voor wie profit net iets belangrijker is dan people? De consument, lees de overheid, speelt daar ook een belangrijke rol in, want de markt heerst en alles kan nog goedkoper.

    Onzichtbare contracten

    Als voorbeeld hebben we Apple genomen, maar levert het computerbedrijf eigenlijk wel telefoons aan bestuursorganen in Nederland? Bij de openbare aanbestedingen zijn er publieke registers, maar de contracten onder de € 50.000 blijven onzichtbaar. In principe hoeft de overheid alleen bij openbare aanbestedingen duurzaam in te kopen. Elk jaar is het bedrag dat wordt aanbesteed minder dan de helft van het totale inkoopvolume (Het totale inkoopvolume van Nederlandse overheden, Instituut voor Onderzoek van Overheidsuitgaven (IOO bv) uit 2009).

    Er is sprake van nogal grove schattingen, want de cijfers over de aanbestedingen lopen uiteen van 18 tot 33 miljard euro. De getallen zijn echter een indicatie voor het percentage duurzaam ingekochte goederen en diensten. Dit ligt rond de 30 en 50 procent bij een geschat totaal volume van de overheid van rond de 60 miljard. Als de overheid echter beweert dat de inkoop van het schoonmaken 100 procent duurzaam is en vervolgens de schoonmakers daar anders over denken, roept dat vragen op over het gehele duurzaamheidstraject.

    Hoe zit het met het ijzer van het kantoormeubilair en de coltan in de telefoons? De publicaties over de slechte arbeidsomstandigheden in de fabrieken voor onderdelen van Apple laten zien dat onderzoek van groot belang is om het duurzaamheidsgehalte tegen het licht te houden. Een eerste vereiste voor dat onderzoek is de vraag of de overheid iphones in gebruik heeft. Daarbij is de vraag of het een openbare aanbesteding betreft van minder belang.

    Door in de Monitor Duurzaam Inkopen 2010 heel hard te roepen dat alle doelen gehaald zijn en aan te geven dat de Rijksoverheid bijna 100 procent duurzaam inkoopt, wordt de illusie gewekt dat 100 procent ook alle inkoop betreft. Nergens wordt vermeld om welk percentage van het totale inkoopvolume van de Rijksoverheid het gaat. Duurzaam inkopen zou ook op de boekhouding moeten slaan en dus ook als het om niet aan te besteden goederen en diensten gaat. De overheid wil geen goedkope stoelen die door kinderhanden zijn gemaakt in de kamer van de minister van ELI.

    Het ministerie geeft zelf toe dat de overheid niet over de kennis beschikt ten aanzien van materialen, arbeidsomstandigheden en andere sociale en milieu-aspecten. Om die reden verwijst de overheid bedrijven door naar ‘de gegevens die zijn bijeengebracht door onderzoeksinstanties en NGO’s.’ Die organisaties moeten dan wel weten met wie de overheid in zee gaat, want anders wordt het onderzoek een verdraaid lastig karwei.

    Verzoek tot openbaarmaking

    Buro Jansen & Janssen verzocht op 7 juli 2010 alle ministeries en politiediensten om contracten met bedrijven op het gebied van ICT, communicatie, dataverzameling en beheer, toegangscontrole, zichtsystemen, alarm, wapensystemen, beschermende oplossingen voor personeel, voertuigen en gebouwen, voertuigen, training en detachering openbaar te maken. In totaal werden 34 bestuursorganen aangeschreven.

    Met name de politie reageerde als door een wesp gestoken. Wat Buro Jansen & Janssen wel niet dacht! Alles passeerde de revue. Te veel werk, niet te vinden, allemaal persoonlijk, zeer geheim, staatsgeheim, levensgevaarlijk als bandieten dat te weten komen.

    Ruim een half jaar later druppelden de eerste overzichtslijsten binnen. Het duurde tot in de zomer van 2011 voordat alle lijsten in het bezit van Jansen & Janssen waren. Ze zijn verschillend van opzet, inhoud, duidelijkheid en precisie. Sommige politieregio’s hebben geprobeerd zo volledig mogelijk te zijn bij de beantwoording van het verzoek, anderen zo onvolledig mogelijk. En het betreft niet alle namen van de bedrijven die met de politie of de verschillende ministeries samenwerken.

    Waarom worden eigenlijk niet alle namen van de instanties die met de overheid samenwerken openbaar gemaakt? Alleen dan kan serieus werk worden gemaakt van een duurzaam inkoopbeleid. Een overheid die niet transparant is, zal altijd schoonmakers in dienst hebben die niet volgens normale fatsoensnormen worden behandeld. Vuile ramen ontnemen het zicht op een serieus beleid waarbij sociale en milieu-aspecten centraal staan en waarbij het inkopen niet duurzaam is, maar wordt afgewimpeld.

    Find this story at 26 March 2012

    Die Top 3 der Mietspione

    Alleine in Deutschland haben die USA bisher 140 Millionen Euro für private Spione ausgegeben. Die meisten Aufträge gingen an die drei Firmen SOSi, Caci und MacAulay-Brown. Was sind das für Konzerne?

    Etwa 70 Prozent ihres Budgets geben die US-Geheimdienste für Aufträge an Privatfirmen aus. Das ist bekannt, seit vor Jahren eine interne Präsentation des amerikanischen Geheimdienstdirektors im Internet auftauchte. Die privaten Auftragnehmer, auf Englisch Contractors, sind eine riesige Schattenarmee (mehr dazu hier).

    Und sie sind auch in Deutschland tätig: Rund 140 Millionen Dollar haben die USA in den vergangenen zehn Jahren in Deutschland für private Spione ausgegeben (hier alle Aufträge in einer Tabelle zum Herunterladen). Dazu kommen Hunderte Millionen Dollar für spionagenahe Dienstleistungen wie Datenbankpflege oder Datenverarbeitung.

    Süddeutsche.de stellt die drei Spionagehelfer vor, die am meisten Umsatz in Deutschland mit Geheimdienstarbeiten machen.
    Nummer 1: SOSi – Vom Übersetzungsbüro zum Flughafenbetreiber

    Mitarbeiter von SOSi seien das Ziel von internationalen Terroristen und ausländischen Geheimdiensten, sagt der Sicherheitschef der Firma. Das Unternehmen arbeite mit den geheimsten Daten der US-Regierung. Es gelte daher, besondere Sicherheitsmaßnahmen zu treffen, erzählt er in einem Video im Intranet. Nach dem Urlaub müssten die Mitarbeiter eine kurze Befragung über sich ergehen lassen: Wen haben sie getroffen? Warum? Änderungen im Privatleben seien der Firma bitte umgehend zu melden. Und wichtig sei auch, sagt er, den Vorgesetzten von verdächtigem Verhalten von Kollegen zu berichten.

    SOS International, der Sicherheitschef kürzt es gerne S-O-S-i ab, ist der größte Spionagedienstleister der Amerikaner in Deutschland. Allein 2012 hat die Firma für Geheimdiensttätigkeiten in Deutschland 11,8 Millionen Euro von der US-Regierung bekommen, insgesamt waren es in den vergangenen Jahren rund 60 Millionen Dollar.

    Auf den ersten Blick gibt sich die Firma offen: Es gibt eine Internetseite, eine Facebook-Seite, die Vorstände twittern, der Firmenchef sendet Videobotschaften. Mehrere Anfragen zu ihrer Tätigkeit in Deutschland ließ die Firma allerdings unbeantwortet. Wie die Firma tickt lässt sich trotzdem gut rekonstruieren: aus den öffentlichen Daten – und aus einer älteren Version des Intranets der Firma, die sie offenbar versehentlich ins Internet stellte.

    Dort findet sich allerhand: Hinweise zum Dresscode (konservativ-professionell), Empfehlungen zum Umgang mit Drogen (geringe Mengen Alkohol bei Firmenfeiern erlaubt) oder Anweisungen zur Reaktion auf Kontaktversuche der Medien (nichts herausgeben). Und auch das eindringliche Briefing des Sicherheitschefs, in dem er an den Patriotismus und die Paranoia seiner Mitarbeiter appelliert.

    Öffentlich verkauft sich das Unternehmen als Familienunternehmen mit Vom-Tellerwäscher-zum-Millionär-Geschichte. Ursprünglich ist Sosi der Vorname der Unternehmensgründerin: Sosi Setian kam 1959 als Flüchtling aus Armenien nach Amerika, heißt es in der Selbstdarstellung der Firma. Sie arbeitete als Übersetzerin für US-Behörden, gründete 1989 ein Übersetzungsbüro. Nach sechs Monaten hatte sie 52 Mitarbeiter, die sie angeblich alle regelmäßig zum Abendessen in ihr Zuhause einlud.

    Heute ist der Sohn der Gründerin, Julian Setian, Geschäftsführer, seine Schwester Pandora sitzt ebenfalls im Vorstand. Der große Erfolg kam nach dem 11. September 2001 – und mit den immens gestiegenen Spionageausgaben der USA. 2002 begann SOSi Übersetzer nach Afghanistan und in den Irak zu schicken. Ein Jahr später heuerten sie auch Spionageanalysten und Sicherheitstrainer an – die Firma hatte erkannt, wie lukrativ das Geheimdienstgeschäft war. Inzwischen beschäftigt das Unternehmen zwischen 800 bis 1200 Mitarbeiter und ist auf allen Feldern der Spionage aktiv, steht auf der Firmenhomepage.

    Was das konkret heißt, lässt sich mit Broschüren aus dem Intranet rekonstruieren: SOSi hat die US Army in Europa bei der Auswertung ihrer Spionageergebnisse unterstützt, in Afghanistan PR-Arbeit für die US-Truppen gemacht, im Irak Einheimische auf der Straße angeworben, um die Sicherheitslage im Land einzuschätzen, und in Amerika FBI-Agenten die Techniken der Gegenspionage beigebracht.

    Neben den USA hat die Firma Büros in acht weiteren Ländern, darunter Deutschland, heißt es in der Broschüre, die aus dem Jahr 2010 stammt. Auf seiner Homepage sucht das Unternehmen Mitarbeiter in Darmstadt, Heidelberg, Mannheim, Stuttgart und Wiesbaden – also an den traditionellen Standorten der Amerikaner. Im September hat SOSi in einer Pressemitteilung veröffentlicht, dass sie die 66. Military Intelligence Brigade in Darmstadt in den kommenden drei Jahren beim Planen, Sammeln und Auswerten von Geo-Daten unterstützen werde, der sogenannten Geospatial-Intelligence.
    Solche Software müssen GEOINT-Analysten von SOSi bedienen können. (Foto: Screenshot exelisvis.com)

    Im Mai gewann die Firma eine Ausschreibung der irakischen Regierung. SOSi übernimmt nach dem Abzug der letzten amerikanischen Truppen aus dem Irak die Verantwortung für die Logistik und die Sicherheit von drei ehemaligen US-Stützpunkten sowie einem Flugplatz. Mehr als 1500 Mitarbeiter werden dafür gebraucht, das würde die Unternehmensgröße fast verdoppeln.

    Die Verantwortung für das Geschäft trägt dann Frank Helmick, der seit Dezember 2012 bei SOSi arbeitet. Vor seiner Pensionierung war Helmick übrigens General der US-Army. Zuletzt kommandierte er den Abzug der US-Truppen aus dem Irak.

    “Du siehst den Hund dort? Wenn du mir nicht sagst, was ich wissen will, werde ich den Hund auf dich hetzen”, soll Zivilist 11 gesagt haben, damals 2003 im berüchtigten US-Militärgefängnis Abu Ghraib im Irak. Sein Kollege, Zivilist 21, soll einen Gefangenen gezwungen haben, rote Frauen-Unterwäsche auf dem Kopf zu tragen. So steht es in zwei internen Berichten des US-Militärs (dem Fay- und dem Tabuga-Report). Und dort steht auch: Zivilist 11 und Zivilist 21 waren Angestellte der US-Firma Caci.

    Bis heute bestreitet das Unternehmen, an den Misshandlungen beteiligt gewesen zu sein, deren Bilder damals um die Welt gingen: Nackte Häftlinge aufgestapelt zu menschlichen Pyramiden, traktiert mit Elektroschocks, angeleint wie Hunde. Unstrittig ist nur, dass Dutzende Mitarbeiter der Firma im Irak waren, um dort Gefangene zu befragen – weil das US-Militär mit dem eigenen Personal nicht mehr hinterherkam. Für viele Kritiker der US-Geheimdienste ist Caci damit zum erschreckendsten Beispiel geworden, wie weit Privatfirmen in die schmutzigen Kriege der Amerikaner verstrickt sind.

    Nachhaltig geschadet haben die Foltervorwürfe der Firma aber nicht: 2012 hat Caci einen Rekordumsatz von 3,8 Milliarden Dollar erwirtschaftet, 75 Prozent davon stammen immer noch aus Mitteln des US-Verteidigungsministeriums. 15.000 Mitarbeiter sind weltweit für das Unternehmen tätig. Unter dem Firmenmotto “Ever vigilant” (stets wachsam) bieten sie den Geheimdiensten Unterstützung in allen Bereichen der Spionage, wie das Unternehmen im Jahresbericht 2006 schrieb: Informationen sammeln, Daten analysieren, Berichte schreiben, die Geheimdienstarbeit managen.

    Caci hat 120 Büros rund um die Welt, in Deutschland sitzt die Firmen in Leimen, einer Kreisstadt in Baden mit 25.000 Einwohnern. Laut der offiziellen Datenbank der US-Regierung hat die Firma in den vergangenen zehn Jahren in Deutschland 128 Millionen Dollar umgesetzt. Auf seiner Homepage hat Caci Mitarbeiter in Wiesbaden, Schweinfurt, Stuttgart, Heidelberg, Darmstadt und Bamberg gesucht, den klassischen Standorten des US-Militärs. Bei manchen Jobs sind die genauen Standorte geheim, bei fast allen die Berechtigung nötig, “Top Secret” arbeiten zu dürfen.

    Was die Firma in Deutschland treibt, zeigt sich an einem Auftrag aus dem Jahr 2009. Damals bekam das Unternehmen den Zuschlag, für fast 40 Millionen Dollar SIGINT-Analysten nach Deutschland zu schicken. SIGINT steht für Signals Intelligence, Fernmeldeaufklärung sagen die deutschen Behörden. Was das heißt? Mitarbeiter von Caci haben in Deutschland demnach Telefonate und Internetdaten wie E-Mails abgefangen und ausgewertet.

    MacAulay-Brown, Eberstädter Weg 51, Griesheim bei Darmstadt. Offiziell ist der Deutschlandsitz des drittgrößten Spionagezulieferers des US-Militärs in Deutschland nirgendwo angegeben. Doch in einem Prospekt aus dem Jahr 2012 findet sich diese Adresse. Und die ist durchaus brisant: Es ist die Adresse des Dagger Complex. Streng abgeschirmt sitzt dort die 66. Military Intelligence Brigade des US-Militärs und offenbar auch die NSA.

    Sogar eine Telefonnummer mit Griesheimer Vorwahl hatte MacAulay-Brown veröffentlicht. Wer dort anruft, bekommt erzählt, dass der Mitarbeiter der Firma etwa seit einem Jahr dort nicht mehr arbeitet. Mehr erfährt man nicht; nicht einmal, wer den Anruf jetzt entgegengenommen hat.

    Dass die Firma so engen Kontakt zu Geheimdiensten und Militär hat, überrascht nicht. Geschäftsführer Sid Fuchs war früher Agent der CIA. Weitere Vorstandsmitglieder waren Agenten oder ranghohe Militärs. Die Firma rühmt sich damit, dass 60 Prozent ihrer Mitarbeiter mehr als 15 Jahre Erfahrung im Militär oder sonstigen Regierungstätigkeiten hat.

    Dementsprechend ist auch das Tätigkeitsspektrum von MacAulay-Brown, die sich auch MacB abkürzen. Auf seiner Homepage wirbt das Unternehmen damit, einen Rundum-Service für Geheimdienste anzubieten. Die Firma habe, heißt es, kostengünstige, innovative und effiziente Spionage-Möglichkeiten für die Geheimdienste gefunden. Der Fokus liegt dabei auf den eher technischen Spionagebereichen der Signalauswertung und Erderkundung (Fachwörter: Geoint, Masint, Sigint).

    Auch in Deutschland hat MacB in diesem Bereich gearbeitet. 2008 hat das Unternehmen mitgeteilt, einen Auftrag der 66. Military Intelligence Brigade in Darmstadt für technische Spionage über Satelliten und Sensoren bekommen zu haben. Insgesamt hat MacAulay-Brown laut Zahlen aus der offiziellen US-Datenbank für Staatsaufträge in den vergangenen Jahren fast zehn Millionen Dollar von der 66. Military Intelligence Brigade erhalten, mit der sich das Unternehmen den Bürositz in Darmstadt zumindest zeitweise teilte.

    Mit Signaltechnik und Erderkundung hat das Unternehmen lange Erfahrung. MacAulay-Brown wurde 1979 von zwei Technikern gegründet, John MacAulay und Dr. Charles Brown. Sie waren zunächst ein Ingenieurbüro für die Army, arbeiteten unter anderem an Radarsystemen. Später fokussierte sich die Firma auf das Testen militärischer System für die Air Force. Bis heute ist MacB in diesem Bereich tätig, auch in Deutschland: Das Unternehmen sucht beispielsweise derzeit in Spangdahlem einen Flugzeugtechniker, in dem Ort in Rheinland-Pfalz unterhält die Air Force einen Flughafen.

    Ein weiterer Geschäftsbereich von MacB ist die Cybersicherheit – auch hier ist die Firma offenbar in Deutschland tätig: Dem veröffentlichten Prospekt mit der Büroadresse im Dagger-Complex ist eine Liste von Experten angehängt, die das Militär auf Abruf von dem Unternehmen mieten kann – inklusive der Stundenpreise. Neben technischen Schreibern und Grafikdesignern finden sich dabei auch Jobbeschreibungen, die Hackertätigkeiten beinhalten.

    Bis heute ist die Firma in Privatbesitz. Sie gehört Syd und Sharon Martin, die MacB 2001 mit ihrer inzwischen verkauften Mutterfirma Sytex gekauft hatten. Als sie 2005 Sytex an den US-Rüstungskonzern Lockheed Martin verkauften, behielten sie MacB – und machten es immer erfolgreicher. Der Umsatz ist seit 2005 von 65 auf 350 Millionen Dollar gewachsen. Die Firma beschäftigt inzwischen 2000 Mitarbeiter weltweit.

    Den Erfolg haben dabei vor allem Verträge der US-Regierung gebracht. 2012 war das Unternehmen erstmals auf der Liste der 100 größten Regierungs-Contractors, 2013 steht sie bereits auf Platz 91. Und wenn es nach dem Management geht, soll es so weiter gehen. In einem Interview mit den Dayton Business News sagte Geschäftsführer Fuchs, er wolle in den kommenden Jahren den Umsatz auf eine Milliarde steigern und die Mitarbeiterzahl verdoppeln.

    16. November 2013 12:21 Aufträge in Deutschland
    Von Oliver Hollenstein

    Find this story at 16 November 2013

    © Süddeutsche Zeitung Digitale Medien GmbH / Süddeutsche Zeitung GmbH

    Private firms selling mass surveillance systems around world, documents show

    One Dubai-based firm offers DIY system similar to GCHQ’s Tempora programme, which taps fibre-optic cables

    Advanced Middle East Systems has been offering a device called Cerebro, which taps information from fibre-optic cables carrying internet traffic. Photograph: Corbis

    Private firms are selling spying tools and mass surveillance technologies to developing countries with promises that “off the shelf” equipment will allow them to snoop on millions of emails, text messages and phone calls, according to a cache of documents published on Monday.

    The papers show how firms, including dozens from Britain, tout the capabilities at private trade fairs aimed at offering nations in Africa, Asia and the Middle East the kind of powerful capabilities that are usually associated with government agencies such as GCHQ and its US counterpart, the National Security Agency.

    The market has raised concerns among human rights groups and ministers, who are poised to announce new rules about the sale of such equipment from Britain.

    “The government agrees that further regulation is necessary,” a spokesman for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said. “These products have legitimate uses … but we recognise that they may also be used to conduct espionage.”

    The documents are included in an online database compiled by the research watchdog Privacy International, which has spent four years gathering 1,203 brochures and sales pitches used at conventions in Dubai, Prague, Brasilia, Washington, Kuala Lumpur, Paris and London. Analysts posed as potential buyers to gain access to the private fairs.

    The database, called the Surveillance Industry Index, shows how firms from the UK, Israel, Germany, France and the US offer governments a range of systems that allow them to secretly hack into internet cables carrying email and phone traffic.

    The index has details from 338 companies, including 77 from the UK, offering a total of 97 different technologies.

    One firm says its “massive passive monitoring” equipment can “capture up to 1bn intercepts a day”. Some offer cameras hidden in cola cans, bricks or children’s carseats, while one manufacturer turns cars or vans into surveillance control centres.

    There is nothing illegal about selling such equipment, and the companies say the new technologies are there to help governments defeat terrorism and crime.

    But human rights and privacy campaigners are alarmed at the sophistication of the systems, and worry that unscrupulous regimes could use them as tools to spy on dissidents and critics.

    Libya’s former leader Muammar Gaddafi is known to have used off-the-shelf surveillance equipment to clamp down on opposition leaders.

    Privacy International believes UK firms should now be subject to the same strict export licence rules faced by arms manufacturers.

    “There is a culture of impunity permeating across the private surveillance market, given that there are no strict export controls on the sale of this technology, as there are on the sale of conventional weapons,” said Matthew Rice, research consultant with Privacy International.

    “This market profits off the suffering of people around the world, yet it lacks any sort of effective oversight or accountability.

    “This lack of regulation has allowed companies to export surveillance technology to countries that use their newly acquired surveillance capability to spy on human rights activists, journalists and political movements.”

    Privacy International hopes the Surveillance Industry Index will give academics, politicians and campaigners a chance to look at the type of surveillance technologies now available in the hope of sparking a debate about improved regulation.

    The documents include a brochure from a company called Advanced Middle East Systems (AMES), based in Dubai. It has been offering a device called Cerebro – a DIY system similar to the Tempora programme run by GCHQ – that taps information from fibre-optic cables carrying internet traffic.

    AMES describes Cerebro as a “core technology designed to monitor and analyse in real time communications … including SMS (texting), GSM (mobile calls), billing data, emails, conversations, webmail, chat sessions and social networks.”

    The company brochure makes clear this is done by attaching probes to internet cables. “No co-operation with the providers is required,” it adds.

    “Cerebro is designed to store several billions of records – metadata and/or communication contents. At any time the investigators can follow the live activity of their target with advanced targeting criteria (email addresses, phone numbers, key words),” says the brochure.

    AMES refused to comment after being contacted by the Guardian, but said it followed similar protocols to other surveillance companies. “We don’t want to interact with the press,” said a spokesman.

    Another firm selling similar equipment is VASTech, based in South Africa, which has a system called Zebra. Potential buyers are told it has been designed to help “government security agencies face huge challenges in their combat against crime and terrorism”.

    VASTech says Zebra offers “access to high volumes of information generated via telecommunication services for the purposes of analysis and investigation”.

    It has been designed to “intercept all content and metadata of voice, SMS, email and fax communications on the connected network, creating a rich repository of information”.

    A spokesman for the company said: “VASTech produces products for governmental law enforcement agencies. These products have the primary goal of reducing specifically cross-border crimes such as child pornography, human trafficking, drug smuggling, weapon smuggling, money laundering, corruption and terrorist activities. We compete internationally and openly against several suppliers of similar systems.

    “We only supply legal governments, which are not subjected to international sanctions. Should their status change in this regard, we hold the right to withdraw our supplies and support unilaterally.”

    Ann McKechin, a Labour member of the arms export control committee, said: “Obviously we are concerned about how our government provides licences, given these new types of technology.

    “Software technology is now becoming a very large component of our total exports and how we police it before it gets out of country will become an increasingly difficult question and I think the government has to review its processes to consider whether they are fit for the task.”

    She said the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, which has responsibility for granting export licences, had to ensure it has the skills and knowledge to assess new technologies, particularly if they were being sold to “countries of concern”.

    “The knowledge of staff which maybe more geared to more traditional types of weaponry,” she added.

    A business department spokesperson said: “The government agrees that further regulation is necessary. These products have legitimate uses in defending networks and tracking and disrupting criminals, but we recognise that they may also be used to conduct espionage.

    “Given the international nature of this problem we believe that an internationally agreed solution will be the most effective response. That is why the UK is leading international efforts to agree export controls on specific technologies of concern.

    “We expect to be able to announce real progress in this area in early December.”
    What’s on offer

    Some companies offer a range of spy equipment that would not look out of place in a James Bond film

    Spy vans

    Ordinary vans, cars and motorbikes can be customised to offer everything a spy could need. Tiny cameras and microphones are hidden in wing mirrors, headlights and even the makers’ logo. Vehicles can also be fitted with the latest mass surveillance technology, allowing them to intercept, assess and store a range of digital communications from the surrounding area.

    Hidden cameras

    The range of objects that can hide high-quality cameras and recording equipment appears almost limitless; from a box of tissues giving a 360-degree view of the room, to a child’s car seat, a brick and a key fob. Remote controls allow cameras to follow targets as they move around a room and have a powerful zoom to give high definition close-ups.


    As with cameras recording equipment is getting more sophisticated and more ubiquitous. From cigarette lighters to pens their are limitless ways to listen in on other people’s conversations. One firm offers a special strap microphone that straps to the wearer’s would be spies’ back and records conversations going on directly behind them. According to the brochure: “[This] is ideal because people in a crowd think that someone with their back turned can’t hear their conversation.. Operatives can work much closer to their target.”

    Handheld ‘biometric cameras’

    This system, made by a UK firm, is currently being used by British forces in Afghanistan to help troops identify potential terrorists. The brochure for the Mobile Biometric Platform says: “Innocent civilian or Insurgent? Not Certain? Our systems are.” It adds: “The MBP is tailored for military use and enables biometric enrolment and identification of finger, face and iris against on board watchlists in real time from live or forensic data.”

    Mobile phone locators

    It is now possible, from a single laptop computer, to locate where a mobile phone is calling from anywhere in the world, with an accuracy of between 200 metres and a mile. This is not done by attaching probes, and it is not limited to the area where the laptop is working from. The “cross border” system means it is now theoretically possible to locate a mobile phone call from a town abroad from a laptop in London.

    Nick Hopkins and Matthew Taylor
    The Guardian, Monday 18 November 2013 21.42 GMT

    Find this story at 18 November 2013

    © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

    Snowden case not the first embarrassment for Booz Allen, or D.C. contracting industry

    When allegations of improper contracting behavior hit Booz Allen Hamilton, the national security consulting firm in McLean bounced back stronger than ever.

    In 2008, a Booz Allen employee at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida was granted the highest-level “top secret” security clearance even though he had been convicted a few months earlier of lying to government officials in order to sneak a South African woman he had met on the Internet into the country.

    Last year, the Air Force temporarily suspended the San Antonio division of the company from future contracts because it had obtained and distributed confidential Pentagon bidding data for its own competitive advantage. In 2006, the Justice Department said the company overbilled travel expenses, and the agency initially recommended that Booz Allen be barred from federal contracting.

    Those incidents had little or no impact on Booz Allen’s success in recent years or on its ability to compete for federal contracts, which last year provided 99 percent of the company’s $5.8 billion in revenue.

    Booz Allen now faces a greater test: Lawmakers and other officials are asking whether the company should be held to account for Edward Snowden, a former employee who had obtained national security documents and leaked them to the news media while at the firm.

    But if the past is a guide, the government is not likely to scale back its reliance on Booz Allen or other large contractors soon, industry officials and policymakers agree. Although intelligence agency reliance on outside firms has declined some in recent years, the latest available estimates still show that about 70 percent of the U.S. intelligence budget is spent on contractors. And big, well-established companies continue to have outsize influence.

    That is particularly true for Booz Allen, one of the most powerful firms within the government’s defense and national security structure. Nearly half of the company’s 24,500 workers have top-secret clearance.

    The company also has deep connections within the defense and intelligence communities, including James R. Clapper Jr., a former Booz Allen executive who is the director of national intelligence, and R. James Woolsey, a former CIA director who was a senior vice president at the firm until 2008.

    The man now heading Booz Allen’s intelligence operations, retired Vice Adm. John Michael McConnell, was the head of the National Security Agency in the mid-1990s and was appointed in 2007 by President George W. Bush to lead the government’s newly established Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which was set up to coordinate domestic and foreign intelligence gathering.

    Those relationships and the sheer volume of work Booz Allen does for the federal government may have given the firm and others like it leverage when they face disciplinary actions, watchdog groups say.

    The Project on Government Oversight testified in June that since 2000, there have been tens of thousands of suspension and debarment actions levied against companies and individuals. But its chief counsel said the number of large name-brand contractors, such as Booz Allen, that have been sanctioned can be counted on two hands.

    “The government’s reliance on large contractors is often difficult to overcome,” said Scott Amey, general counsel to the nonprofit watchdog group, which maintains a contractor misconduct database. “Therefore, large contractors are in a powerful position to avoid suspension or debarment actions.”

    There is no indication that Booz Allen faced penalties when its employee at MacDill received top-secret clearance despite his criminal record. The travel-overbilling case was settled with the payment of a fine.

    Only the case concerning the San Antonio office resulted in an actual suspension. That action, taken by the Air Force, did not affect ongoing work and lasted two months.

    The company declined comment on the past cases. But a spokesman, James Fisher, said, “Booz Allen is proud of our reputation for the highest ethical standards, built over nearly 100 years of service to our government and commercial clients.”

    As the Snowden story continued to generate front-page news, Booz Allen chief executive Ralph Shrader predicted that his company would overcome the bad publicity from the Snowden leaks.

    In remarks to employees at a “town hall” meeting late last month, Shrader said, “I think the important thing to understand is we cannot and will not let Snowden define us.”

    “You define us. The work we do for our clients defines us, not the occasional aberrant in our midst,” he added. “There is nothing here for us to hang our heads about. We are a fine, fine firm. We stand on the list of Fortune’s Most Admired Companies. I plan to be on the list year after year.”

    Past complaints

    The disclosures by Snowden represent one of the most grievous breaches of security in the history of the super-secret NSA. Snowden, 30, who worked for just three months at Booz Allen, managed to obtain top-secret documents detailing broad government surveillance of telephone records and Internet traffic.

    Little is known about how Snowden, a former security guard without a college degree, was able to get top-secret clearance and position himself at Booz Allen to obtain national security secrets.

    “My position with Booz Allen Hamilton granted me access to lists of machines all over the world the NSA hacked,” he told the South China Morning Post on June 12. “That is why I accepted that position about three months ago.”

    Booz Allen has accepted responsibility for past complaints of wrongdoing but continued to win contracts.

    In 2006, the Justice Department proposed barring the company, along with four other major consultants, from participating in contracts for having received rebates from airlines, credit card companies and hotel chains while billing the government for the full undiscounted cost of the travel. The government dropped its lawsuits against the firms after they agreed to monetary settlements, with Booz Allen submitting nearly $3.4 million to the Treasury.

    A few years later, the company received unwanted attention in a federal court prosecution of the MacDill employee working as a “counter threat analyst” at U.S. Central Command’s Joint Intelligence Operation Center in Tampa.

    The employee, Scott Allan Bennett, had received one of the highest-level security clearances available in late 2008, even though a few months earlier he had been convicted of making “willful false and misleading representations” to the U.S. government.

    The case, raised in Senate correspondence last week by Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), concerned an effort Bennett made on behalf of a South African woman he had met on the Internet who wanted to visit the United States. According to court documents, Bennett sought to get her a visa by falsely claiming that she would be working with the White House and the State Department while in the United States. He was sentenced to three years of probation.

    In 2010, Bennett was arrested again after appearing intoxicated at the gate to MacDill Air Force Base, home to U.S. Central Command. He was subsequently charged and convicted on weapons charges and charges of making additional false statements to the government.

    At the trial in Tampa, U.S. District Court Judge Virginia M. Hernandez Covington asked how Bennett could receive a top-secret clearance after his conviction. The U.S. attorney’s office in Florida was unable to answer the question, according to news reports.

    The judge’s concern was echoed in a letter written by Nelson to the Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) in June. “Serious quality-control questions have been raised here,” Nelson wrote, asking that the committee investigate such cases. “We may need legislation to limit or prevent certain contractors from handling highly classified and technical data.”

    Now in prison at the Schuylkill Federal Correctional Institution in Minersville, Pa., Bennett could not be reached for comment. His Washington attorney, Jeffrey O’Toole, declined to comment.

    In 2012, the Air Force proposed barring the San Antonio office of Booz Allen from bidding on future contracts. The division had hired a Pentagon official who brought with him on his first day of work “non-public information,” which he shared with the company to help it win an information technology contract.

    The Air Force lifted a temporary suspension on Booz Allen in April 2012 when the firm agreed to implement ethics and other reforms and pay $65,000. At the time, Booz Allen issued a statement saying that the company “accepts responsibility for that incident and related matters and agrees to implement firm-wide enhancements to its ethics and compliance program.”

    Although the 2006 and 2012 requests for barring the company from bidding for certain contracts surprised those who follow intelligence contracting, those cases did not seem to damage the firm’s overall reputation.

    “The company did have a few instances of misconduct,” said Steven Aftergood, who follows intelligence contracting for the Federation of American Scientists. “But that number is not terribly surprising for a company of that size.”

    Yet the problems, in particular those raised by Snowden and other employees with improper access to confidential materials, suggests a broader systemic problem, Aftergood said.

    “The current situation didn’t come about by accident,” he said. “It is the product of economic and political incentives that favor it. Those incentives continue to exist, so there is a serious question about how much it is going to change.”

    Future of contracting

    Booz Allen is hardly the only company touched by allegations of mishandled government contracts. In 2011, 1,094 individual and corporate contractors were suspended or barred by the departments of Defense and Homeland Security alone, according the latest available federal data. There were probably more, but transgressions by firms that contract intelligence work are not released publicly by the federal government.

    Michael Birmingham, a spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, said the intelligence community has lessened its reliance on private-sector contractors.

    In 2008, about 27 percent of intelligence-community security clearances had been granted to private-sector workers, he said. Today, that number has declined to about 18 percent.Overall, as of late 2012, 4.9 million people have been granted security clearances, about one-fifth of them work in the private sector, according to data made public by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

    But the growth in contracting in defense and homeland security work continues. That has been fueled by several factors — ongoing public worry about terrorism, antipathy toward big government and an evolution in Washington’s revolving-door culture that provides extraordinary rewards to top government officials who go private, experts say.

    Yet even outsourcing’s most vocal skeptics agree contractors are here to stay, despite what they contend are illusory savings.

    “Curbing the use of contractors would be difficult or impossible,” said Chuck Alsup, a retired Army intelligence officer and vice president of the Intelligence and National Security Alliance, an Arlington County-based association of private companies and individual experts. “It would be, frankly, unwise.”

    By Tom Hamburger and Robert O’Harrow Jr., Published: July 8
    Alice Crites contributed to this report.

    Find this story at 8 July 2013

    © The Washington Post Company

    Company allegedly misled government about security clearance checks

    Federal investigators have told lawmakers they have evidence that USIS, the contractor that screened Edward Snowden for his top-secret clearance, repeatedly misled the government about the thoroughness of its background checks, according to people familiar with the matter.

    The alleged transgressions are so serious that a federal watchdog indicated he plans to recommend that the Office of Personnel Management, which oversees most background checks, end ties with USIS unless it can show it is performing responsibly, the people said.

    Cutting off USIS could present a major logistical quagmire for the nation’s already-jammed security clearance process. The federal government relies heavily on contractors to approve workers for some of its most sensitive jobs in defense and intelligence. Falls Church-based USIS is the largest single private provider for government background checks.

    The inspector general of OPM, working with the Justice Department, is examining whether USIS failed to meet a contractual obligation that it would conduct reviews of all background checks the company performed on behalf of government agencies, the people familiar with the matter said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the investigation has not yet been resolved.

    After conducting an initial background check of a candidate for employment, USIS was required to perform a second review to make sure no important details had been missed. From 2008 through 2011, USIS allegedly skipped this second review in up to 50 percent of the cases. But it conveyed to federal officials that these reviews had, in fact, been performed.

    The shortcut made it appear that USIS was more efficient than it actually was and may have triggered incentive awards for the company, the people briefed on the matter said. Investigators, who have briefed lawmakers on the allegations, think the strategy may have originated with senior executives, the people said.

    Ray Howell, director of corporate communications at USIS, declined to comment on Thursday.

    In a statement last week, USIS said it received a subpoena from the inspector general of OPM in January 2012. “USIS complied with that subpoena and has cooperated fully with the government’s civil investigative efforts,” the statement said. The company would not comment on the Snowden case.

    It is not known whether USIS did anything improper on its 2011 background check of Snowden, the 30-year-old who leaked documents about the inner workings of the NSA and is now the subject of a global drama. He gained access to those documents after he was cleared to work at NSA contractor Booz Allen Hamilton.

    Last week, Patrick E. McFarland, the inspector general of OPM, said he has concerns about Snowden’s background check. “We do believe that there may be some problems,” he said.

    The broader concerns about background checks are not limited to USIS. McFarland’s office has 47 open investigations into alleged wrongdoing by individuals in the background checks industry, according to a statement from the inspector general’s office. Separately, since 2006, the watchdog has won convictions in 18 cases in which employees claimed to have verified information that ultimately turned out to be false or not even checked.

    “There is an alarmingly insufficient level of oversight of the federal investigative-services program,” McFarland said last week in congressional testimony. “A lack of independent verification of the organization that conducts these important background investigations is a clear threat to national security.”

    McFarland’s office declined to comment on the details of the investigation. “We have never indicated whether the case was criminal, civil, or administrative,” a statement from the office said.

    Last week, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) said USIS is the subject of a criminal probe as a result of a “systematic failure” to conduct background checks. She did not elaborate. A spokesperson said Thursday that the senator stands by her statement.

    Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), who chairs a Homeland Security subcommittee, said he plans to introduce legislation within two weeks to increase oversight of the security clearance process, including giving inspectors general more power to audit funding and other aspects of the massive effort to provide 4.9 million Americans with authorized access to classified and other sensitive government information.

    “I cannot believe that this is handled in such a shoddy and cavalier manner,” Tester said in an interview Thursday. “I personally believe that if you are under criminal investigation, you should be suspended from the process until it is resolved.”

    Tester added: “We have spent hundreds of billions in this country trying to keep classified information classified and to keep people from outside coming in. And what we see here is that we have a problem from the inside.”

    USIS, which was spun off from the federal government in the 1990s, has become the dominant player in the background checks business. It does about 45 percent of all background checks for OPM, according to congressional staffers. USIS has 7,000 employees.

    USIS has been under financial pressure in recent years because of federal cutbacks and less generous contracts from the government, according to financial analysts working at Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s. The firm’s parent company, Altegrity, is owned by Providence Equity Partners, a private equity firm. USIS has two main competitors, KeyPoint Government Solutions and CACI.

    By Tom Hamburger and Zachary A. Goldfarb, Published: June 28

    Find this story at 28 June 2013

    © The Washington Post Company

    Warning of a ‘private army’ running Britain after government increases spending on security firm G4S by £65million

    Controversial firm saw income from UK taxpayer rise by 20% last year
    Company earned £394million in 2012-13, up from £328.5million
    Labour MP Barry Sheerman warns of over-reliance on private contractors

    Controversial security firm G4S has enjoyed a 20 per cent surge in government contracts despite a string of blunders, new figures show.

    The company – which failed to recruit enough guards for the London Olympics – earned £394million from the taxpayer in 2012-13, up from £328.5million a year earlier.

    The revelation sparked claims it was becoming the ‘private army’ of the state.

    Security: The controversial firm G4S has seen a 20 per cent increase in its income from the UK government, raising fears of an over-reliance on a ‘private army’

    With just weeks before the London Olympics opened in July last year, G4S admitted it would not be able to provide the thousands of guards it had promised.

    Its reputation was severely damaged when 3,500 troops were called in to provide security at the biggest events.

    In the wake of the debacle MPs called on the government to think again before awarding more lucrative contracts to the firm.

    But it seems to have done little to dent its reputation in Whitehall, and next week it will provide security guarding the world’s most powerful men and women at the G8 summit at Lough Erne.

    Tories launch web assault on Labour and Lib Dems to put pressure on MPs to ‘Let Britain Decide’ on Europe
    Number of over-65s still in work doubles in two decades to top 1million for the first time
    Public-private pay gap widens even further: Average private sector earnings have ‘fallen faster’ than state employees during the recession

    Labour MP Barry Sheerman, who obtained the figures on government spending with G4S, said he was worried about an increasing over-reliance on a small number of companies.

    He warned: ‘The trouble is a lot of contractors are in a monopoly. They do seem to be swelling up and getting bigger and bigger and we are getting to the stage where the over-reliance on one company troubles you.

    ‘I am becoming increasingly worried about the monopoly position that G4S have in security services.

    ‘They are becoming the private army of Her Majesty’s Government. There is something going on that I think we need to shine a spotlight on.’

    Blunder: The army had to be called in for the London Olympics after G4S failed to recruit enough guards last summer

    Nick Buckles, who last month quit as G4S chief executive, admitted the Olympic security contract had been a ‘humiliating shambles’ for the company but Labour MP Barry Sheerman (right), who obtained the figures, warned of a few firms having a monopoly on state contracts

    Most of the hike in Government spending on G4S contracts was down to an extra £51 million spent by the Ministry of Justice on contracts with the company.

    A spokesman for the department said the increase was down to G4S being given contracts to run prisons at Birmingham and Oakwood, as well as managing the facilities of a large part of Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service.

    The Department for Work and Pensions more than doubled its spend on G4S contracts – up from nearly £13.8 million to more than £32.1 million.

    The UK-based security firm traces its roots back to a guarding company founded in Denmark in 1901.

    G4S was formed when Group 4 merged with Securicor in 2004. The company has a long record of blunders including:

    In 1993 Group 4 became the first private company to run prisoner escort services,m and lost seven inmates in three weeks

    A year later a hunger striker escaped from Campsfield House detention centre, guarded by Group 4

    In 1997 it emerged the firm had transferred a prisoner between two vans on a petrol station forecourt

    Three prisoners escaped from Peterborough Crown Court in 2001

    In 2011, G4S staff lost a set of cell keys just days after taking over Birmingham Prison Workers put an electronic tag on criminal Christopher Lowcock’s artificial limb

    In 2012 the firm failed to train enough guards for the London Games which meant 3,500 soldiers had to be recalled from leave

    In March this year a G4S guard at Heathrow ordered Royal Navy engineer Nicky Howse to change out of her uniform before flying to the US because it was ‘offensive’

    A contract awarded to G4S for the Government’s Work Programme accounted for the increase, Employment Minister Mark Hoban said in his answer to Mr Sheerman’s question.

    The figures do not include spending by the Department for Communities and Local Government which has not yet answered the MP’s question.

    Mr Sheerman said it was ‘amazing’ that so much was being spent on G4S when it was failing to pay Olympic subcontractors that were ‘not complicit in the debacle’ of the company’s handling of security at London 2012.

    ‘I thought it was amazing that such an amount is being spent on one major contractor, also at a time when we still know that G4S have failed to pay subcontractors who have worked for them on the Olympic site,’ Mr Sheerman said.

    He said some small and medium-sized businesses who worked on the Olympic site were made to subcontract to G4S by Locog, but now have not been paid.

    ‘I don’t know why they haven’t paid them, it is just bad principles,’ he said.

    ‘They were told at one stage in the development they were running the logistics and security of the athlete’s village.

    ‘Once that was finished they became subcontractors and told to be subcontractors to G4S.

    ‘One would have thought Locog would have leaned on G4S to do the honourable thing to the subcontractors.

    ‘They were not complicit in the debacle that occurred when the army came in.’

    Kim Challis, G4S CEO of government and outsourcing solutions, said: ‘We have been working with the UK government for more than two decades, delivering the highest levels of service and under a high degree of monitoring and oversight.

    ‘We have won every contract we have been awarded by bidding in a highly competitive environment, based on delivering an effective service for the best deal for the taxpayer, with a number of providers challenging for the work.

    ‘We have a strong track record of delivering for our UK Government customers and are proud of the service our 11,000 employees provide to them, and the general public, every single day.’

    Former G4S company boss Nick Buckles, who admitted the London 2012 contract had been a ‘humiliating shambles, last month quit his £1.2million-a-year role as chief executive.

    He clung on to his job in the immediate aftermath of the Olympics debacle but the firm’s reputation suffered badly and in recent weeks poor trading caused shares to slump by more than 13 per cent in one day.

    This month, G4S’s AGM was interrupted by protesters making reference to Jimmy Mubenga – an Angolan man who died while being deported from the UK by G4S guards.

    In July last year, prosecutors said they would be taking no action against the three G4S staff over the death.

    By Matt Chorley, Mailonline Political Editor

    PUBLISHED: 12:36 GMT, 12 June 2013 | UPDATED: 08:42 GMT, 13 June 2013

    Find this story at 13 June 2013

    © Associated Newspapers Ltd

    Microsoft founder Bill Gates buys into G4S

    Microsoft founder Bill Gates has given a vote of confidence to embattled British security firm G4S, despite a recent profit warning and ongoing controversy over the company’s Israeli prison contracts and the death of an Angolan man.

    The US tech titan’s private investment vehicle, Cascade Investment, and his high-profile charitable fund, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, poured an extra £16m into G4S stock on Thursday, to increase their joint stake in the security giant to 3.2pc. The total holding is now worth around £110m.

    Mr Gates’ endorsement will come as welcome relief following a year blighted by the company’s failure to supply enough security staff for the London Olympics. The fiasco eventually claimed the scalp of chief executive Nick Buckles, but only after a difficult first quarter in Europe prompted the company to issue a profits warning in May.

    Last week, board members endured a stormy annual meeting, at which they faced repeated questions over three Israeli prison contracts in occupied Palestine and the death of Angolan deportee Jimmy Mubenga in 2010. Despite protests, G4S’ new chief executive Mr Almanza insisted at the fraught meeting that an independent study concluded that the company had not breached any aspect of “international humanitarian law”.

    But this would not be the first time the $36.4bn Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the largest of its kind, has invested in a company that has faced fierce public criticism. The charitable trust holds stakes in BP and Exxon Mobil, which have both come under fire over catastrophic oil spills.

    Mr Gates also has a history of investing in British companies, including Carpetright, Diageo and JJB Sports.

    “The best guess would be that given the changes that have taken place at G4S over the past year, it’s probably an opportunity for G4S to set out a clear path,” said Steve Woolf, support services analyst at Numis.

    “The underlying business is still very good. The share price has been quite beleaguered over the past 12 months. Now there is a chance to begin again and reinforce the core strategy.”

    The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was established by Mr Gates and his wife in 2000 with the goal of eradicating poverty and combating the world’s deadliest diseases.

    By Denise Roland
    4:29PM BST 10 Jun 2013

    Find this story at 10 June 2013

    © Copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited 2013

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