Spy claims ‘will not change’ good relations with France
CLAIMS that undercover French intelligence operatives have been active in Jersey will not affect the Island’s good relationship with its nearest neighbour, the government has said.
Yesterday, the JEP revealed that French national Maxime Renahy has written a book called Là Ou est L’Argent, in which he claims to have spied for the French secret service while working in Jersey’s and Luxembourg’s finance industries.
Mr Renahy was employed by Mourant International Financial Administration, which was bought by State Street Bank, between 2007 and 2012.
He claims to have stolen information from his employers over a period of five years, during which time he says he mapped confidential financial structures, helped recruit other undercover agents and assisted hackers in targeting servers based in the Island.
In response to his claims, the External Relations Department has also said that the Island has and will continue to have a good relationship with France’s national and regional governments.
‘The Government of Jersey will not comment on unverified claims published by a private individual for commercial purposes,’ a spokeswoman said.
‘Jersey has in place robust regulation and enforcement procedures to manage the illegal interception of communications and the theft of data.
‘Any businesses who have legitimate concerns about the loss or theft of confidential data should contact the States of Jersey Police.
‘The Island continues to have a productive and mutually respectful relationship with the national and regional governments of France, and there is no reason that this will change.’
The spokeswoman added that government officials would not be seeking reassurance from the French government that state-sponsored espionage had taken place in Jersey.
‘The Government of Jersey will not be contacting the French government on the basis of unsubstantiated claims,’ she said.
State Street Bank has confirmed that Mr Renahy was an employee of theirs until 2011.
Mourant Ozannes, the law firm which formerly owned Mourant International Finance Administration, said that they were ‘monitoring’ the situation.
‘We are aware of the speculative comments made by Maxime Renahy, a former employee of a business called Mourant International Finance Administration,’ a spokeswoman said.
‘This business is no longer connected to Mourant, having been sold to State Street in 2010. Nevertheless, we are monitoring the situation closely.
‘Jersey has one of the strongest financial services regulatory frameworks in the world. Our firm operates rigorously within this framework and is committed to the highest standards of good business conduct.’
Responding to accusations that he may be a ‘fantasist’ who is simply trying to make money from book sales, Mr Renahy said that Islanders were ‘in denial’ if they did not believe his story.
‘I know that the French people are often seen by the Brits as cocky, so I would expect of course some Jersey people think that I am a fantasist person making stories up,’ he said.
‘What can be answered to them is that to be in a psychological denial of the spying situation in the Channel Islands won’t stop the reality of it. It is an ongoing business for years.
‘The offshore centres are nests of spies because there are hubs with high level of informations going through. I understand it’s easier for people to think they live in a protected bubble.
‘Also, the French are not the only ones spying in the Channel Islands. The Russians, Americans etc do the same job.
‘The French don’t just spy on the Channel Islands. They do it in the City of London as well. And British intelligence do the same in France.’
Mr Renahy explained that he would not have been able to carry out his covert activities without the support of the French state, and the Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure [the country’s version of MI6] have supported the release of his book.
‘It is important to highlight that it’s not me alone spying in Jersey, but I was part of a state operation. This spying wouldn’t have been possible without the French authorities,’ he said.
‘The French secret services are aware of the release of my book since June 2018. If what I wrote would have been false I would have been sued by July 2018.
‘The information in the book is just factual and small compared of [sic] the real scale of it.’
He added that former French presidential candidate Eva Joly, of the Green Party, contributed to the book.
The French Defence Ministry declined to comment on Mr Renahy’s claims, simply issuing this statement: ‘We never communicate about persons belonging to or having belonged to the secret services.’