Jody Wilson-Raybould was contacted by RCMP regarding SNC-Lavalin
Former Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould has disclosed that she was contacted by the RCMP regarding the SNC-Lavalin scandal and that she has had discussions with them.
She was asked by CBC News on Thursday if she had been contacted and she replied, “They haven’t reached out to me on this, no.”
Today she clarified that statement:
“To clarify my answer from yesterday—I was asked if the RCMP had contacted me in response to the ethics commissioner’s report and specifically since the RCMP’s public statement yesterday. The answer is no.”
“However, and after clarifying with the RCMP, I can confirm that I was contacted by them this past spring regarding matters that first came to the public’s attention on February 7, 2019 in a Globe and Mail article. I will make no further statement regarding the content of my discussions and communications with the RCMP.”
This is a breaking news story and will be updated.
Thousands of cyber victims around the world, say RCMP after Canadian charged in malware investigation
There could be thousands of malware victims in multiple countries say RCMP after they charged software developer and former IT professional John Paul Revesz on Nov. 8 under Section 342.1 of the Criminal Code – a vague hybrid offence for unauthorized use of a computer.
RCMP’s National Division Cybercrime Investigative Team aren’t saying much about Revesz except that they believe he orchestrated an “international malware scheme under the company name ‘Orcus Technologies'” following an investigation that spanned more than three years.
“This case highlights the importance of partnerships with law enforcement agencies and private sector organizations,” said the RCMP in a press release that noted police initiated their investigation in July 2016 “after reports of a significant amount of computers… infected with a ‘Remote Access Trojan’ type of virus.”
RCMP did not respond to The Post Millennial‘s queries, in particular if any additional charges were expected and what took them so long to track down Revesz, after a July 21, 2016 article by former Washington Post reporter Brian Krebs essentially outed the alleged perp.
According to Krebs’ story, he was tipped off by cyber security consultant Daniel Gallagher after a Twitter battle with Revesz, involving other malware researchers on ethics and legalities of peddling an application that gave users the ability to take control of another computer, then coaching clients how to use it.
In what’s left of the Twitter thread – John Paul Revesz’ purported allias Ciriis mcGraw has since deleted his side of the conversation – some humour belies the seriousness of Revesz’ alleged activities.
“Can you give me an example where disabling a user’s webcam light might be acceptable use?” asks Gallager sarcastically in the thread.
Another writes: “As we know all legitimate software vendors sell on hackforums”.
Like others in the security business, Gallagher is not anxious for publicity, at least beyond his Twitter following and like the RCMP, did not respond to TPM‘s queries for this story.
With the cloak-and-dagger, shroud of mystery surrounding this oddball case, TPM reached out to the accused Revesz, who obliged.
In a lengthy Facebook conversation with Revesz, he marks the Twitter debate with Gallager et al. as ground zero for two events: shoring up protocols on Orcus to protect user and client, thereby bolstering the software’s legitimacy, and Krebs for sparking the entire investigation by running to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
“I can tell you exactly how this started: Twitter argument (with Gallagher et al.), they contact Krebs, who in turn contacted the FBI. The FBI contact the RCMP, and that’s how this all started,” claimed Revesz.
Revesz also said he was just the marketing side of the Orcus application business, based on “software” that was “solely developed” by a business partner Revesz declined to name.
Revesz told TPM that he imagined such an idea while working as a Systems administrator for TD Bank, a job he held more than 10 years ago.
“Orcus was for legal, legitimate Systems administrators to easily access and manage their client computers within their network,” said Revesz.
The Torontonian said he plans to fight the charges and that he doesn’t expect any additional charges, despite the hybrid nature of the criminal code offence.
“It comes down to Legal definition. Was Orcus a Remote Administrative Tool, or a Trojan? And secondly, where is the line drawn from legal software, to malware?” said Revesz who compared Orcus to a brick.
“If I pick up a brick and bludgeon someone with it, who is at fault? The brick maker or me for misusing the brick?”
Krebs, who publishes on his eponymous KrebsOnSecurity.com, told TPM that malware of the sort Revesz peddles is traded in online Hacker forums, and dismissed the claim he went to the FBI.
“Anything you want to know is in my stories… I’m not sure there is more I can say about this guy.”
According to Krebs’ latest story on the charge against Revesz, Australian police executed their search warrants coinciding with RCMP warrant on Revesz, in March of 2019.
“Several former customers of (Revesz) took to Hackforums[.]net to complain about being raided by investigators who are trying to track down individuals suspected of using Orcus to infect computers with malware,” writes Krebs.
“‘I got raided [and] within the first 5 minutes they mention Orcus to me,’ complained one customer.”
In a brief interview with TPM, Krebs said typical Orcus clients are individuals, and as he reported in July of 2016, such applications are being created by those who “think they can get away with writing, selling and supporting malicious software and then couching their commerce as a purely legitimate enterprise.”
The cyber security journalist called Revesz’ brick-argument “pretty weak” and likened Orcus business model to selling lock picks then “supporting thieves who are having trouble using them to steal stuff.”
“I can’t take credit for that, but I thought it was pretty funny,” Krebs said of a description he read on social media.
In the July 5 Twitter thread that Revesz cages as seminal to his current legal woes, Malware Tech, aka Marcus Hitchens, makes a similar argument.
And like lock picks, Krebs said Orcus-type malware “isn’t terribly sophisticated in terms of the programming that goes into them, but the functionality of them can be extraordinarily sophisticated.”
“The point is, once you get something like this on a machine, you can control it and do what (the computer owner) can do.”
Other cases involving section 342.1 of the Criminal Code–unauthorized use of computers–indicate its broad application.
Most recently, it formed part of espionage charges against RCMP Cameron Ortis. It’s also been used to prosecute people who use computers or mobile devices to lure children, as well as election tampering cases involving robocalls that provided voters incorrect or deceiving information.
Elizabeth May is out as the leader, but the Green party certainly isn’t stopping.
According to a recent report from the CBC, Jo-Ann Roberts is considering recruiting former Liberal Cabinet Minister and now independent MP, Jody Wilson-Raybould to the party’s top job.
Wilson-Raybould is the only Independent in the House of Commons after she was kicked out of Liberal Party by Justin Trudeau over the SNC-Lavalin scandal. Then, attorney general, Wilson-Raybould said she was bullied and pressured by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his office to spare the SNC-Lavalin, a Quebec engineering firm with Liberal ties from prosecution.
The federal government has blocked almost all genuine investigation into the matter, with the RCMP even facing difficulties when it comes to having confidentiality waived on key witnesses.
Although hopeful, Jo-Ann Roberts has not reached out yet, as she believes former party leader Elizabeth May will take the lead on recruiting, given her close relationship with Wilson-Raybould, and the close working proximity on the hill.
May has previously attempted to recruit Wilson-Raybould, following the SNC-Lavalin affair, offering her the leadership even back then.
While the interim leader has stated her hopes to recruit Wilson-Raybould, she has also stated that her party is actively looking at other strong candidates who could join the leadership race.
Counsel for former SNC-Lavalin vice-president Sami Bebawi, on trial for charges related to business dealings in Libya, attempted to poke holes in the Crown’s star witness’s story about events involving the now-failed North African state and its deceased dictator.
Bebawi has pleaded not guilty to eight charges including fraud, corruption, money laundering, and bribery of foreign officials, including notorious Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi and his playboy son Saadi.
After four days of testimony under Crown examination, Ben Aissa, who copped a related plea deal in exchange for his cooperation, told the court during day one of the defence’s cross that he tried to get the Canadian government to assist with delinquent accounts involving multi-million dollar contracts.
On Monday, Ben Aissa told the jury that Bebawi leaned on him hard to recoup cash any way possible after SNC-Lavalin was not getting paid by the Gaddafi regime for a multi-million dollar contract arranged in the early 2000s.
Wednesday, Bebawi testified that before he set up a shell company in British Virgin Islands where 50 percent of this outstanding cash was funnelled before being divvied between players, including Gaddafi, he asked the Canadian government for help.
Ben Aissa had previously testified that 50 percent of this money was funnelled to Duval Securities Inc. that he registered in the British Virgin Islands, then divvied up between the players, including Gaddafi.
The Crown said it intends to prove that SNC-Lavalin ultimately transferred more than $113 million to this offshore company.
The jury has also heard from Ben Aissa that cultivating a relationship to ensure a steady stream of contracts for the Quebec-based, global engineering firm, involved a luxury yacht shopping trip in 2007 with Saadi Gaddafi in the South of France.
According to Bebawi, SNC-Lavalin eventually contracted an American ship building to construct a custom $25 million boat Muammar’s son.
As reported by Postmedia on Wednesday, defence lawyer Alexandre Bien-Aimé disputed many of Ben Aissa’s claims, including whether a key meeting with Bebawi in Cairo where the boss allegedly pressured to recoup the cash, unconcerned about the method.
Bien-Aimé also questioned Ben Aissa’s explanation of how the circumstances surrounding his first contact with Gadhafi and how involved Bebawi was with SNC-Lavalin’s business in Libya.
After inking a multimillion-dollar contract with Libya in 2007, then-SNC-Lavalin executive Riadh Ben Aissa toured a luxury boat show in Cannes, France with North African dictator Muammar Gaddafi’s son Saadi, a Quebec Superior Court jury heard on Monday.
Ben Aissa is the Crown’s star witness in the bribery and corruption trial of former SNC-Lavalin executive vice-president Sami Bebawi.
According to Ben Aissa, after returning to Libya he was contacted by the elder Gaddafi’s people about Saadi’s desire for a 150-foot, $25 million yacht that SNC-Lavalin eventually contracted an American company to build.
On the first day of the trial on October 31, Crown Prosecutor Anne-Marie Manoukian told jurors the trial “is a case of international fraud and corruption” and alleged that paying bribes to Libyan officials “became the business model” for SNC-Lavalin in what’s now a failed state.
The Crown’s case is built on business relationships that SNC-Lavalin allegedly cultivated with Saadi and Muammar Gaddafi involving million-dollar bribes and kickbacks to maintain a pipeline of valuable contracts for the Québec-based engineering firm.
The Crown also alleges that Bebawi orchestrated the arrangement and benefitted personally to the tune of $26 million.
On Monday, the court also heard from Ben Aissa that when SNC-Lavalin started to suffer financially on a project for the Gaddafi regime, Bebawi leaned on him to recoup the cash in any way possible.
Ben Aissa testified that 50 percent of this money was funnelled to Duval Securities Inc. that he registered in the British Virgin Islands, then divvied up between the players, including Gaddafi.
The Crown said it intends to prove that SNC-Lavalin ultimately transferred more than $113 million to this offshore company.
Bebawi has pleaded not guilty to eight charges including fraud, corruption, money laundering, and bribery of foreign officials. The trial continues in Montreal and is expected to last six weeks.
Charges against Bebawi are related, but separate from concurrent legal proceedings against the firm itself, which opted for trial by judge in June of this year in a case that has yet to see a courtroom.
SNC-Lavalin’s alleged bribery and corruption crimes and the company’s attempt to get a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) went all the way to the Prime Minister’s Office, a February Globe and Mail story revealed.
The charges and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s attempt to pressure ex-attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould into diverting criminal proceedings against SNC-Lavalin to remediation, sparked the biggest scandal the PM weathered during his first government.
In 2012, the Swiss arrested Ben Aissa, who spent two years imprisoned there before pleading guilty to money laundering. This cleared the way for extradition to Canada where he cut a plea deal last summer and was sentenced to 51 months in prison for forging documents.
Back in February, the case against a second SNC-Lavalin executive Stéphane Roy, was thrown out of court on grounds it had taken too long to come to trial. The court rejected Bebawi’s attempt to have his case tossed on similar grounds.
UPDATE: During his testimony Tuesday, Ben Aissa told jurors that while incarcerated in Switzerland, he was contacted by Bebawi’s lawyers and offered $10 million to soften up and corroborate eventual testimony. Ben Aissa said he refused and reported the overture to Canadian authorities.