Sunday, November 25, 2018

RESPONSE TO BUZZFEED PIECE







BUZZFEED:  Chandler, a financier based in Dubai, is suing Donald Berlin and his company, Investigative Consultants, Inc., for $15 million (about £11.6 million) in damages. The libel case was filed in the US District Court for the District of Columbia last month and is reported here for the first time.
A radically different explanation for (the Chandlers) wealth had emerged in the early 2000s, when the brothers lived in Monaco and they came to the attention of Prince Albert’s personal intelligence adviser, an American named Robert Eringer.
Eringer wasn’t a conventional spy. Born in California in 1954, the son of a Disney illustrator, he has led a career including stints as a bartender, investigative journalist, literary agent, spy novelist, freelance FBI counterintelligence operative, and blogger. In memoirs and on his personal website, Eringer styles himself as a globe-trotting raconteur with a taste for fine wine, five-star hotels, and clandestine adventures. He apparently stumbled into the intelligence world after befriending a former senior CIA officer in the late 1980s.

ERINGER:  I have never been a bartender, not that there is anything wrong with bartending.  I owned a bar in Santa Barbara 2013-17, years after my Monaco experience.
I did not "stumble" into the intelligence world; I slid into it gracefully, operating ten years under cover for FBI Counterintelligence in Moscow, Havana and elsewhere before Prince Albert of Monaco invited me to be his intelligence chief.







BUZZFEED:  In a memoir, The Spymaster & Me, Eringer claimed he was recruited by Prince Albert II to be his personal intelligence adviser over drinks at the Hotel Columbus in Monaco in the summer of 2002. According to Eringer’s account, Prince Albert was eager to rid the principality of shady characters and asked Eringer to help. For a fee of 80,000 euros a quarter, Eringer agreed to set up a covert unit that would investigate prominent residents, vet public officials, and build relationships with foreign intelligence agencies such as the CIA and MI6. He operated outside formal government structures, working from an office on London’s Marylebone High Street to avoid detection, and styled himself as 'Agent 001' of the 'Monaco Intelligence Service'.

ERINGER:  I did not "style" myself as anything other than what I was: Prince Albert's Senior Intelligence Adviser (June 2002-mid-2005) and Director of the Monaco Intelligence Service (mid-2005 through the end of 2007).


It was Albert's cousin Jean-Leonard de Massy (my deputy from mid-2006) who created ID cards for the purpose of safe passage (if necessary) while in Albert's service, and who designated me "001."




BUZZFEED:  One of Eringer’s first targets, he recounts in The Spymaster & Me, was the Chandlers. Eringer believed the brothers were suspicious partly because so little was known about them and their apartment building was mostly empty. At best, he figured, they were running an unregistered commodities business. But he thought they might be laundering money for Russian criminals. Eringer began investigating the brothers.

ERINGER:  We did not act on a hunch based on a low profile existence and a mostly-empty apartment building. The Chandlers and their company Sovereign were brought to our attention by a well-tested source, after which we discovered the Chandlers appeared to be operating an unregistered investment trading company in Monaco. 

"According to Chandler’s lawsuit, Eringer’s decision to investigate them began a sequence of events that led to Chandler being accused of being a Russian spy in the UK more than a decade later. The dossier that circulated in London late last year consisted of material drawn from Eringer’s investigation, including Eringer’s own November 2004 writeup about the findings of the probe."