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Counter Intelligence Podcast Transcription – Scott Stedman and Jess Coleman

July 22, 2019 2:36 pm Scott Stedman

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Eric Levai:
Welcome to counterintelligence. This is Eric Levai.. Today, we're joined by Forensic News journalist Scott Stedman and Jess Coleman to discuss their explosive reporting on Walter Soriano. Forensic News thanks Our patrons on Zacharias "Z-Score" Kominsky. Angela J. Craig P. Gregg s Sasha M. and Jim R. Support forensic news and counter intelligence on Patreon Without further ado, here's the show.

Eric Levai:
Scott Stedman and Jess Coleman. Welcome to counterintelligence.

Jess Coleman:
How's it going, Eric? Great. Great.

It's been quite a week. It's Friday, though, guys.

Eric Levai:
Guys, you have some exclusive reporting on Walter Soriano. So, Scott, I was warning if maybe you could start and really just tell us or tell the listener actually first, how did Walter Soriano come to your attention? And who is Walter Soriano?

Scott Stedman:
Yeah. So Walter Soriano came to my attention first by a report from Natasha Bertrand in Politico. She reported last early last month that the Senate was interested in him for their Russia probe, the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Scott Stedman:
And so soon after that, we started digging into him and basically found that he has all these connections to the power centers of Russia and Israel. He bills himself as sort of like this security consultant who, you know, can protect airports and ships and things like that and also provide, you know, intelligence on business opponents. So we started digging into him and we found connections to the very top of the Russian government and the Israeli government. And so are our report in mid-July last week as of this recording.

Scott Stedman:
We found that he was basically in charge of keeping the Sochi airport safe during the Olympics, which is obviously a huge deal for Russia. And it says a lot about, you know, his connections to the people in charge there. You know, we talked to various Russia experts and they all pretty much said that there was some sort of, you know, relationship and level of trust between the Russian government and Soriano for him to be put in charge of such an important task, because we know that the Olympics are a huge deal, especially to Putin, who wanted to put on a great show for the rest of the world.

Eric Levai:
Right. I was thinking about that myself when I read the article that really the you know, Putin, who is already a very paranoid guy, and I'm sure that would have been a major terrorism target. So despite whatever corruption that exists in Russia, they would never have given a job like that to somebody that they didn't trust to keep the airports safe. Would I would I be correct?

Scott Stedman:
Yeah, that's totally right. And they had they had terrorist attacks, you know, pretty soon before the Olympics and after. So they've been dealing with, you know, the terrorist threat like the rest of the world. They had a subway bombing. And so, yeah, this was this was very important to Putin to keep the the main airport safe and in the city where the Olympics were being held. And, you know, they turned to not to Russian security experts or the Russian military, but they turned to this Israeli private company controlled by Walter Soriano.

Eric Levai:
Exactly. And then your article also some of the experts you interviewed implied that I mean, I think one actually said that they thought that Soriano had access to some kind of technology that the Russian government didn't have. Could you tell us a little bit about that? You either one to.

Scott Stedman:
Yeah, I'll take that one. So basically, the contract that was signed between Soriano is U.S. G security and the Sochi airport. It basic basically gave Soriano complete access to everything. It says in the contract that they have direct control at the facility during the Olympics. And it's it stipulates that the airport is going to give Soriano and his employees pretty much access to everything.

Scott Stedman:
You know, like the security security room, the cameras, the you know, the the efforts to interview suspicious people.

Scott Stedman:
So they were in charge of everything. And it says a lot that they turned to him instead of Russians, like I said before, because, you know, as one of our Russian experts that we interviewed said indicates that Soriano had, if not the technology, the expertise and the trust that the Russian government was.

Eric Levai:
And then from a reporter's process, just maybe giving people an inner workings of how it works. How did Jess how did you like how did you guys decide to collaborate on this one? Scott had started working on it.

Jess Coleman:
It was I I got involved when we started looking at the various real estate and other business ventures that Soriano was involved with in the United Kingdom and the United States. So once Scott had this scoop on the Sochi airport, I began looking into some of the properties that he was investing in with some other individuals in the United States and the United Kingdom. And it sort of sprouted off from there. There are infinite scoops in this article and they sort of just kept kept coming at us like wildfire. Yeah.

Eric Levai:
So there are about five or I mean, like this was like it was like a blockbuster. Like it could have been probably, I'm sure, a few articles, but but it's in one big one. So there's five or six major scoops. So maybe Scott, maybe you could start to take us through a few and then we'll go to just buy what you know, maybe start with you. Yeah.

Scott Stedman:
So we we talked about the Sochi airport. That's what we'd led with. That's probably the I don't know. I don't want to rank the scoops, but that's like that. But it's one of the most important ones. Do the BuzzFeed, Scott? No. Yeah. Top top 15 pictures of Walter Soriano. So. So we had the Sochi airport. Right. And that establishes his connections to the Russian government and to Putin. We also got the full letter that the Senate Intel Committee sent to Soriano. And we printed every name and entity that was on the list of people that they thought that Soriano had some contacts with during the 2015 and 2016 election cycle. So we printed that whole list. Some of the interesting names we have. Erik Prince is on there, Mike Flynn, Paul Manafort, all of Oleg Deripaska. Well, his inner circle. And then we also have the you know, the Israeli private Intelligence. company is Sy Group and Black Cube. So those within the entities that stuck out to us, we printed the full list on the article. Yeah. And then the real estate. Which Jess pretty much handled most of that. And there's a few scoops in there. Yeah.

Eric Levai:
Yeah. Jess tell us about the real estate specifically. Mr. Soriano is buying up a lot of kind of an unusual property in Florida. Could you maybe tell us about the. Yeah.

Jess Coleman:
So there are sort of two threads here in the United States. He created this LLC called Playland Investments in July 2016, which is an interesting time for this to begin and started buying up properties sort of scattered around Broward County. And it's it's not really clear why he's doing this. We can only speculate as to why it's not clear exactly who the figures are that he's involved with doing this with. He's rented out some of these properties. Some of them have been sold to other entities who whose identities we couldn't really verify much. So there's a lot of sort of speculation and just a nebulous nature around that company. There's not much we really know about it. And the United Kingdom, he's been involved in the real estate industry for upwards of like 30 years. And he's got what really stick stood out to me is just how many companies he has. I mean, in one instance, he created these three different companies called Top Seven, Top Seven, Seven and Toque 777. Tove is the Hebrew word for good. And he he he partnered with the same woman named Orly Weinberger in all of those three ventures. And, you know, we've been trying to figure out what properties exactly he's been investing in, which is more difficult in the United Kingdom. We've found that in the United States. But basically these. This has just raised a lot of suspicion. And we don't really know the purpose of these companies. We don't really know the extent of the business they're doing. And it just really raises more questions than answers.

Eric Levai:
I think also just speaking as a Jewish American, are we going to drop in an exclusive articles on the articles on how an Orthodox Jew is named Soriano?

Eric Levai:
Let's go. Are you guys going to look into that? Because I've heard that that one I haven't figured out how I actually.

Scott Stedman:
Yeah. No, actually, I've answered that he was he was actually born in Argentina. So. So he's a a UK Argentinean Israeli Jew. OK.

Eric Levai:
Yeah. But no. Here you go. You said, yeah. I guess we won't be posing that on forensic News. You just said it. Yeah. I wanna go back to that real estate for a second. Just like either abroad or here. I mean, I you know, just playing the devil's advocate. Obviously, real estate is especially now is probably a pretty good investment. And we know people do that. Is there a. B, the is just putting his money in places that that would make him money.

Jess Coleman:
It could be, you know. And I know this is what follows is all speculation. And I'm not a, you know, an expert on financial crimes or anything. But, you know, the purpose in, for example, a money laundering scheme would be if you're gonna use real estate, would be that you want to get it into the system and make it so that it's the the money is not detectable. Right. We don't know where it's coming from. So it's only going to raise suspicion. That's the whole point. So we can't exactly verify where it is coming from. Of course, you know, you would want. You could. There are many companies out there that like Soriano, companies are very much in debt, you know, own a lot of real estate, are involved with different figures. But what I think creates skepticism here is not only the individuals he's associating with, but the the fact that he has so many different companies doing exactly the same thing. The fact that they are all all seem to be leveraged in debt to a very high degree. And the fact that he is, you know, using these names that make them look like, you know, shell companies, it just raises a lot of skepticism. And no, we can't say I want to be clear. We can't say at all that we know where this money is coming from or why it's being invested in the way it is. There are many legitimate explanations. But the nature and the way it's being done definitely raises a lot of questions.

Eric Levai:
Yeah. Yeah. Just curious, like typically with people who are, let's say, hypothetically hiding their money or they're using real estate to do that. Do they typically buy more high dollar properties? Because it seemed like he was buying like just kind of these regular old houses?

Jess Coleman:
Yeah. I mean, I work from what I understand that I've got I'm not an expert in their was that you could do it. You could do it in many different ways. I mean, you could buy high value properties and you and, you know, that would be a very good way to move a lot of money very quickly. You might pay in cash or you might want to finance it with a mortgage and pay off the mortgage very quickly. But you've also might want to buy low value properties and try to buy them for less than the value that they're actually worth or to to rent them out as we saw and derive clean income that way, as we did see they did on a very small scale. So there are so many possibilities. This is one of the reasons that using real estate is such a good idea, because there are you know, there are not many financial reporting requirements. You can move a lot of cash at a very fast pace. So we just don't know. And that's why, you know, we're continuing to look into this.

Eric Levai:
Yeah. And then breaking actually right before this show. Scott, we have some some new reporting on Mr. Soriano. Maybe you could take us through what we're going to be dropping on forensic news very shortly.

Scott Stedman:
Yeah. So we got a bunch of documents dumped in our laps, pretty much from a source that we know a lot of court documents. Soriano Soo's pretty much everyone that comes into contact with him. So there's there's a lot in black and white. And you know, that that could include forensic news here pretty soon. We've gotten we've gotten some threat letters.

Eric Levai:
Name is on the paperwork, which may be one of the. What I'm saying is, do they know who I am? That's what I'm saying now.

Scott Stedman:
No, no, no, no. It'll it'll be me. So. Yes. So so this new this new article, it's basically a court document. And with a woman named Ruth Parasol, who is an American born billionaire. She actually started an online. Well, she started in porn. She ran a bunch of porn sites and amassed a small fortune that way. But then she quickly turned in to online gambling. She started one of the most popular online gambling Web sites of all time. And she actually became a billionaire because of this. And in 2006, the U.S. government passed a new law pretty much banning online gambling to a large extent. And so Parasols company came under scrutiny and pretty quickly. And so basically, she turned to Walter Soriano to do a whole host of things, one, to keep her from going to jail and to to collect intelligence on her rivals, on her business rivals. She ended up paying Soriano over 30 million dollars, which is a huge sum of money. And in this court filing, where Soriano basically says he's owed more money, owed more than the 30 million he already got a parasols swears in an affidavit that Soriano told her that he was ex Israeli intelligence..

Scott Stedman:
He was in Israeli intelligence. major in the Israeli army. And she she makes this claim under oath. It's a sworn affidavit and it just adds to the intrigue around Soriano. Right. We don't know who this man is. There's only a few a few clients that we've been able to unearth with US companies. And an important point that we make in the article is that we have no idea what he did prior to age 34 when he first started this USG company. So this claim of him being an Israeli intelligence officer is certainly going to, you know, sort of raise the hair on the back of the neck of investigators in the Senate and federal investigators elsewhere that are looking into Soriano. So so this this claim is in black and white and it was under oath. So it said something we're taking seriously and it adds to the intrigue of this sort of shadowy consultant that we we don't know a lot about.

Eric Levai:
Right. I mean, well, obviously, we'd like to say we can't say for sure. And I mean, I barely remember what I did before I was 34. But, you know, that said, if he really does seem to fit. I mean, it's it's not it's certainly not an unreasonable thing. I mean, and also just as connections, which as you have pointed out, both of you go to the highest levels, the highest levels of the Israeli government.

Scott Stedman:
Right. And then this this new article, we also spend a lot of time focusing on that parasol also said in in her affidavit in this court, Israeli court document that she had an initial meeting with Mr. Soriano, Walter Soriano, in 2008 when she was first introduced to him to to try and navigate this DOJ investigation into her online gambling Web site. And they met in Gibraltar. And she says that Soriano brought along one of his references, who she described in the lawsuit as, quote, a person who had served and is serving at the highest levels of the Israeli government. So so we also have all these claims that we've written about, about Soriano knowing Benjamin Netanyahu. And in this new article, we put together kind of a timeline of, you know, we have these e-mails from Soriano to one of Netanyahu's closest aides in late August of 2008 trying to set up a meeting with Netanyahu in mid September of 2008, which is precisely when he met Parasol for the first time. And when she says he brought along someone at the highest level of the Israeli government. So we have all these dots pretty much saying that Soriano is close to Netanyahu and we have all you know, at this point we have like 10 reference points of him being close to Netanyahu, which is just super, super interesting given his connections to the Russian government. And now, you know, now it goes to the top of the Israeli government. And this is just a web of connections that the Senate is certainly looking into. And I'd be surprised if the FBI wasn't looking into as well.

Eric Levai:
And to be clear, my name is Eric Smith.

Eric Levai:
Tony JONES Right.

Eric Levai:
I'm going to have you got to love it. So just just to put that again or maybe to some of what you just said. So Mr. Soriano was looking to prove himself to a very high dollar client and used it was which is common and used as a reference point or a reference somebody who was at the highest levels of the Israeli government. At the same time, he was trying to set up a meeting with Netanyahu. So it's very plausible that it was either either him or someone close to him reference, you know, referencing him. Is that correct?

Scott Stedman:
Exactly. It has to be. I mean, you look at all the data points. You have a sworn affidavit from from Paris all saying that, you know, a senior member of the Israeli government went to this meeting, meeting and vouched for Soriano, as you know, resonate. And what he could do for her and you have the e-mails, you have the you know, there's another business man who swore in court that Soriano told him that Netanyahu is his business partner back in 2008, and this was before he was prime minister. He was Netanyahu is the leader of the opposition party at this time. So it's not like the prime minister was flying around these places. He could have kept a little bit of a lower profile. But but certainly it looks like Soriano had some sort of relationship with Netanyahu. We don't know how deep that goes, but it's certainly interesting to see how connected this guy is to all these governments around the world.

Eric Levai:
Do either of you know? Because I'm not sure about this. I mean, everyone in Israel, you know, has to serve in the military, was did Netanyahu serve in Intelligence. or what's going on in his background?

Scott Stedman:
I have not looked into it, looked into that, but I'm sure he did. I know it's a requirement, so I'm not sure what branch he served in or anything like that. But he is he's a fair amount older than Soriano. So it's not like there would be in the same military class or anything. He's like 15, 15 or 17 years older than sorry.

Eric Levai:
That's right. Yeah. Jess. Can you. I was curious just on the perspective. Because I don't know how this works. How do how do you look through how does one start to look through property and records to find out these things that you discovered? How do you do that from the journalist perspective?

Jess Coleman:
We've been looking mostly at things that are all public in any state. It's pretty easy because you can you could search by who the owner is. You do have to go by county, which is a little annoying. But in Broward County, we were able to just search Playland Investments and get all the properties that they've been involved in, all the mortgages that they've taken out, all the people they've sold to. The UK is a little harder. They have a little more protections on what you can search. But we've been able to find some companies just by looking at the public charges, basically a mortgage that these companies have filed and they have to list the address of the property. But we're having some difficulty getting all the properties that they're involved in. But we'll get there.

Eric Levai:
Yeah. Speaking generally, just how how does a high dollar type of person. Because, you know, you're you're a lawyer. How do you if you want to create a these LLC or these things to mask yourself? I mean, how do you do that?

Jess Coleman:
It's it's really easy. It's it's it's a matter of by the way, I'm not a lawyer yet. I have to pass the bar exam. But but but he is he is so close. This young man, he just it's just a matter of filing some short articles of incorporation with the state, paying a filing fee. But pretty much anyone can get an LLC for any reason.

Eric Levai:
Ok. And then once you have the LLC, from what I'm looking into, you can, you know, have another LLC that buys that LLC. And it's like there's like a web, right? Is that correct? Either one? Correct. Yeah.

Scott Stedman:
Yeah, that's right.

Scott Stedman:
It's it's it's interesting with Soriano like these the Russians that I've studied for the past two years and all these, you know, shady money laundering people, they usually don't put their name to the LLC like they'll have a lawyer in the county do it. But it's interesting with Soriano, he put his name to all of these. But like just said, we were having trouble figuring out what all these LLC is do, especially in the UK. You know, like I said, you can't search by Buy LLC name to see what they own. So I think I mean, if you look at it, he has like 12 or 15 LLC and we've only been able to figure out I think one or two. Yeah. So there's a possibility. I mean the the one or two that we've actually been able to find properties associated with, they've been very high dollar. Most of them a million dollars plus. So there's a good possibility that Soriano owns tens of millions of dollars of real estate in the U.K. We just don't know yet. We're trying to chip away at it, and I think we'll get there eventually. But there's a good chance that he has a ton of money invested in the UK and we don't know whose money it is.

Right. And just to add to that, sorry to interrupt, but the the the fact that his name is on his LLC is, like Scott said, sort of has tipped me off from the beginning because it it leads me to believe that these connections to these high, you know, these power brokers all around the world are up there, that there's more content to them than it would appear. Right. Because like Scott said, you usually want to have someone be your front person and put their name on the LLC. And it's it might be that Soriano is that front person. And he's not, you know, trying to do anything with his own assets, but it's someone else's assets. And which also, you know, makes all of this reporting that Scott's doing about U.S. job security. And, you know, they're shady, you know, where's their all their money coming from that it makes that all the more intriguing as well.

That's a great point, because if you if you look at Soriano profile, I explain it a little bit in this new article that's gone up soon. He didn't have a picture online for the entirety of his life until until we got a couple of them. And so if you look at, you know, his his partnership with Oleg Deripaska, his connections to Netanyahu, his his work for Paris, all this American billionaire is certainly looks like Jeff said, it looks like Soriano is the front man here. And that's why he is so comfortable putting his name to it, because it might not be his money, which makes the Florida properties so interesting to me because it's. There's so low dollar and it's just so it's so unorthodox if you compare that to the business ventures in the UK and in the United States there there night and day. If you if you look at the UK properties, they're huge mansions of four or five, six thousand square feet. And if you look at the U.S., this company that has happened in July of 2016, they're like little. A hundred and fifty thousand dollar eight hundred square foot houses in very remote parts of Broward County. So it's it adds to the intrigue. And it I think it points to, like just said Soriano being the front man instead of him managing his own assets.

And I'd like to just really highlight, too, for everybody what you just said as well. One of the major scoops of the article, which because it was the first thing even I read the article and didn't realize it, a forensic news. Scott's them and discovered the first pictures of Walter Soriano, right?

Yeah, that's right. It was sent to us by a source, RU, who didn't want to be named, obviously. But we blurred out all the faces that he's with, like one of them is just him at dinner and one of them is him posing for a picture. I think it is his synagogue. Mm hmm. So we blurred out everyone else. But. But, you know, these these small images are the only ones on the Internet besides like this very distorted one that Israeli media had that didn't really show his face.

It's just really want to highlight it for us and for people who want to support us for what we're doing here. I mean, we're like five people who I mean, the first pictures of a guy who's currently who's connected to the highest levels of Russia and Israel and is wanted for questioning by the United States Senate, just that's the type of work we're doing over here. And I just think that's it's great to just highlight that totally.

Yeah. And it's it speaks to our mission a little bit as well.

Like we always we always want people to see what we see and we always want to present everything in in black and white. And in this case, in color. So there is the transparency there that we that we like to show our our readers.

Can we highlight this is for either one of you. And if we can't, then just we won't. But can we highlight any of the people who've contacted us since this to were a little bit maybe not happy about this reporting?

Is that some we can't get into?

Yeah. No, we can get into that. Yes. You want to talk about the the threat letters that we got?

Yeah. So it's interesting who it came from. It came from a man named Shlomo Retch staffing. Is that his name? Good. Good. Beautiful. I can't. I don't have you. That's not a hard too hard to pin down like Soriano.

But from what we found, he appears to be the head of a group called the French, the U.K. Friends of Bar-Ilan University, which is an Israeli university.

And he's appeared in pictures with some pretty, you know, high level Mossad officials and other Israeli officials. But he appears to have a law firm in the United Kingdom. The address that it's registered under is a home, probably his home. And I think it's just him as the lawyer. And we received a letter from him basically telling us that what we're writing about is defamatory and to back off and all that, you know, a typical try trying to intimidate, intimidate us, which didn't happen. And what's interesting to me is that Soriano does have a legitimate lawyer in Israel who's a big shot lawyer over there. We reached out to him for comment and our response was to get a letter from Shlomo again, another letter. And, you know, his letters are they're not good grammar. They do not have good punctuation. They're not even signed by him. If there's a script signing of writing staff and law, which is the name of his supposed law firm. So, you know, I'm not even sure what's really going on there. I'm not sure who Soriano is. Actual lawyer is. I'm not sure if we're going to be sued, but it is there. The intrigue never ends with this guy. And up to the letters that we've got, I just have so many questions.

Yeah, I'll get on.

Go. I just add on to that real clear course. It's interesting to point out that Shlomo is also involved with. I think just one of Soriano LLC is. Yes. Yes. Yeah. One of the what we think is going to be a real estate LLC. We haven't tracked down anything, anything that it owns right now. But he's one director in in Soriano LLC here and they're the only two directors. So it's tough to say if he's actually Soriano is lawyer or if he's a business partner or what he's doing. And like Jeff said, the other lawyer. Whose whose name escapes me right now. But he the not Shlomo, the real lawyer in Israel. He's handled all of the Israeli court filings and everything. So he appears to be sorry on his real lawyers. So the fact that we're getting this this letter from Shlomo and not not the other guy is interesting, especially because they have a business relationship. So, yeah, it just adds to the intrigue. And it's it's quite a quote, quite a few weeks that we've had forensic news dealing with this.

This threat, Shlomo also is pictured and I'm only calling Shlomo because I can't pronounce the last name. I need to write was a rough stuff and that's our best try. OK. He also is if you read the article listeners, he's pictured in the article with a former head of hanging out with a former head of Mossad.

Intelligence. that. I'm correct on that, right?

That's right. So that was that was interesting. Yeah. I mean, it is just pure speculation here, but it's almost like, does the front man have a front man? That's right.

And I'll add to that. Yes. There's another figure who I mentioned before. Name Orly Weinberger, who's also another lawyer, who he is, who Soriano has partnered with on three of his companies. And we can't really figure out a lot about her either. So it does appear that the front man as a front man, because he needs one now that he's coming under such scrutiny.

And Weinberger also has her own real estate like legit real estate company. So it's just it's an insane web of connections. And we tried to we tried to write this initial article in a way that's somewhat easy to understand. But, yeah, we we gave it our best shot. We included a lot of pictures and like an interactive map and everything. But it does take a couple reads to fully understand the gravity of the situation. And going forward, we're going to have a series that we're we're doubling the Walter Soriano files just to to reference the data dump that we got on these these court documents and internal USG contracts and documents. So we're going to break it down going forward into more digestible pieces of information. But there's a lot here. And, you know, a ton of questions that we can't answer so far, but we're gonna get there.

I mean, I had. I'm not going to lie. I had to read that article about 10 times. There's so much information in there and it still blows my mind. And then the new one, I can't keep up with this stuff.

It's like and that's with us cutting, you know, a fair amount of material that we could have put in. But there's a lot here. But I think I don't want to speak for Jack, but I think one of our main goals here is, of course, we want like the reader to be interested in this and to understand the story and why the Senate's interested. But also, we're kind of writing for an audience of investigators, like we think that this information could possibly be used by the Senate and the House and maybe even the FBI and investigators in the UK and Israel. And that's I don't want to sounds like too. I don't know, like tooting our own horn. But I do think this information that we've uncovered is important in terms of legal proceedings and potential investigations into sorry on US businesses.

Hundred percent. Yeah. You know, I just keep reflecting on the way, you know, all our lives have really kind of changed since since, you know, the November of 2016, the election. And I just didn't realize people like this. I knew there were shady crooks and things, but I had no idea that there was this underworld. I don't know if you guys did, but you probably did. But I shouldn't.

It's it's only going to. There's only got to be more.

That's. I can say that for certain. And it's interesting how all these people are connected. It just makes me I don't know. It makes me sort of buy into the the Bernie Sanders shtick of the 1 percent and how all these people at the very top of the world that have, you know, these billionaires and and multi multimillionaires, they're all connected. And the scary part is that they're connected to the most powerful governments in the world. Now, instead of just business, it really is like an octopus with all these tentacles that Pierce, pierce all these countries in financial business, political and all of the above. You know, it's an interesting web that we're we're trying to untangle here at forensic things.

Scott, I want to ask you a question about a part of the article where his I guess at least one of the versions of Soriano is you USG was was dissolved in lawsuits after he failed to foil a 30 million dollar diamond robbery. Am I correct?

Yeah, that's right. And we're going to have more. Coming out on this soon, it's just more Russians. But but yeah. He is first company, which was called Universal Security Group, which. What? Well, we've pretty much deduced is that it's like USG version 1. So his universe security group was in charge of protecting and providing security for a company called Graft Diamonds, which is a huge diamond company. They have they have store fronts all over the worlds in the U.S. and the UK. He was in charge of providing security for the UK branch. And subsequently in 2009, they had this huge jewelry heist in which more than 40 million euros of jewelry were stolen.

And so Soriano was in charge of this.

And on the board of that first version of universal security, USG was a bunch of intelligence officials from Israel. And there was one from who led the Belgian intelligence services for almost a decade. They pretty much resigned because of this huge heist.

And that was pretty much it for the first iteration of USG like that, that complete failure to protect probably one of their biggest clients. And they ended up losing 30 million dollars, which led to USG folding. And then Soriano kind of rebranded and changed Universe Security Group to USG and kind of tried to restart his business life after this big failure.

You know, it's it's fascinating. I mean, this is someone who on one level was trusted by Vladimir Putin to protect the airport. On the other hand, I mean, I have to ask. Maybe it's just the the writer in me. But typically, high dollar, especially jewel robberies, are sort of inside jobs. Is there any chance that he was involved in it?

We don't think so. This was this was connected to. And there's actually been like movies and documentaries about this group, the Pink Panther jewelry robberies. I don't know what the proper term is. But this was a legit group of people who who made their living robbing high, high end jewelry stores, the Pink Panthers. So, yeah, we don't we don't think this is an inside job. This was just there's some reports of like the security guard at the time just being being kind of lazy and letting suspicious people into the into the store. So, yeah, this was this was a legit heist and a failure of of USG.

I remember that Pink Panther. That's unbelievable.

Yeah. These these are the people that robbed the UK store were either a part of that group or were connected to the principles of that group.

I'm getting a sense that we might have more information. Either one he was or it sounds like you guys are working on something you're guarding. Anything you could tell us?

Yeah. We we know a little bit more about it. I don't want to scoop myself, OK?

There's nothing we can say a little bit. We know a little bit more about who and who Soriano hired at the second iteration of USG. And that person has connections to the Graft Diamonds franchise as well.

What does either one of you this? His name, Walter's story. Ono's name first appeared on all our radars when it was it was Natasha Bertrand. If I'm correct, who reported that he was wanted by the Senate Intelligence Committee for questioning, right? Yeah, that's right. OK. So do we know the names on that list, which was exclusively then published here? Forensic news are names, many names associated with Special Counsel Mueller's investigation. Do we know exactly why the government wants to talk to Walter Soriano?

So I'll take this one just real quick. It's interesting because Natasha wrote about this a little bit. Pretty much everyone that we've been able to contact and political is able Politico is able to contact that's on this list has denied ever knowing Soriano or USG.

And that certainly could just be them lying or trying to distance themselves. But it is a big open question as to why why Soriano was of interest in the first place to the Senate and what they think his involvement was. But like you said, pretty much every name on the list, with the exception of maybe one or two, was deeply involved in the Mueller probe. So we know it's part of the Senates Russia investigation into the 2016 election. We don't know why, why or how Soriano came onto the radar, but we can certainly say that the Senate. Just send these requests out of the blue. They had some solid information that Soriano was interested, was interesting to them and was somehow connected to at least a few people on this list.

And I'll just add to that, when you put together these Israeli social media groups that were potentially influencing the election on behalf of the Trump campaign. And when you add it to it's a man, Walter Soriano, who appears to be the front man who is dealing who potentially dealing with other people's money and investing in real estate. And then you add to it real estate investments in the United States starting in July of 2016. The potential is just like explosive.

And what? And one name that stood out to me and I think you jest and I know Natasha, we talked a little bit about this was Christopher Steele. He's he's he's on the list of people that the Senate wants to know more about in relation to to the sorry, I know Steele connection. So I think the implication there is that Soriano may have been a source for Steele and the Steele dossier. I mean, we know that's what Steele was doing in the middle part of 2016. And the letter asks for communications between Soriano and all these people from June 2015 through the election. So we know that's what Steele was doing. He's putting together that dossier during this time. And it's interesting to see Steele and his his company, Orbis business included in this list, which led us to believe, you know, we don't don't off confirmation, but it led us to believe that Soriano may have been a source for Steele.

That's very interesting. I know in the dossier he occasionally will say a phrase like a Russian quote, like hell. He'll give you a little bit of information on a source. But was there any mention of either of you of a Israeli source or. I don't remember anything like that.

Did the dossier doesn't mention. I don't think it mentions Israel at all. But it does it does have like the like you said, those vague sort of descriptions. And one of them or maybe multiple haven't read it in a few months. But he does he does reference business partners of X, Y and Z. So we know Deripaska is pretty much central to the Mueller investigation and his deputy. Kill him neck, who is also on the list.

So we know that Soriano is a business partner of their POSCO. We we can prove that based on the contract that we got with Sochi Airport and and other ventures. So he very well could have been one of those business partners referenced in the dossier.

And here a forensic news from what I just found out before we take this. You both of you are gonna be we're going to be doing a Walter Soriano, sort of a we're gonna be doing more articles on this and a collection, is that correct?

Scott, that elusive. Lawson, how do we. Maybe it's. Oh, man, just I got him.

Say, I gotta keep you guys gotta keep going. I think we did lose him.

Oh, man.

That's good. Yeah, I do. Yeah. Good. Yeah. Well, he's back. Yes. Yeah. Yeah. Oh, man said I was sorry. Good.

Yeah. So he's he's pretty much suing everyone that he has contact with. And we certainly we stand with our Israeli friends who who are being sued. And we'll be we'll be sure to mention their reporting and all of our pieces. Yeah. We have we have a ton of data that we're preparing to section off into articles and post a series of vex poses that we're calling the Walter Soriano files.

I love. Great. I just just honestly just great. You know, while while the journalism is serious, I also think as someone who came from a just the general entertainment perspective, it's important to present things in a certain way that grabs the reader. And I just. That's a great title, guys.

Yeah. And not to shout out real quick and shout out to Savior, our forensic news cohort. He does all the graphics and he's actually helping us research a lot of this and present it in a way that's digestible. And he's responsible for all the images and and how good that website looks and and how easy it is to to understand this information. So he's helping a lot with this as well.

By the way, for the record, I'm definitely leaving that whole part in where Scott just disappeared.

That was just awesome. It was just perfect for this show.

Gentlemen, any thing else the public needs to know about Walter Soriano?

Anything on your mind? Brianna, I hacked my computer. He's going in and out. Yeah.

Just anything else you want to tell us about this gentleman?

Yeah, I think that certainly with Scott's new reporting, the focus that that I'm now looking at is, is this group USG and how the money is coming in, what exactly this group does. And I think we're where we're going to get a lot of interesting information about that group and what they do. And it's going to tell us a lot about who this guy is and his connections to everyone else.

Yeah. Perfect. Scott, any any last words?

Yeah, we have. We have a lot coming up on Soriano specifically. I think the main point that we're going to try and hammer home here is we're going to follow the money. Like Jeff said, and we're also establishing his deep, deep connections to Netanyahu. And that's something that hasn't been explored too much, at least in the United States press at all. But his connections to Netanyahu run super deep. And we think we know actually that this is going to be a big story in Israel and Netanyahu's going to have to answer about his dealings with Soriano. And if Soriano has ever managed his money or if he's ever been a partner in sorry on those businesses and this is gone, all going to be wrapped up into the Senate's investigation. So we have the top of the Israeli government certainly involved, the top of the Russian government. And now the U.S. is on the case trying to sort it all out.

Scott Steadman, just Coleman. And I'll go with Eric Smith for two. It's been great talking to you guys. And look forward to doing this against. And thank you for listening.

Follow forensic news on Twitter at forensic NEWSNIGHT. Counterintelligence is an intel pod. My personal account is Eric Levai. support forensic news on Patriot subscribed to counterintelligence. Everywhere you listen to podcasts, this is Eric Levai. and this is counterintelligence.

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