Economic Espionage

From Russia with Love

Frankfurt has been compromised, Mr. Bond. Source: Picture Alliance/United Archive
A Russian agent has been spottet in Frankfurt, Mr. Bond.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Economic espionage is a widespread problem in Germany’s financial capital Frankfurt, but the industry is badly prepared to thwart it.

  • Facts


    • Mr. Keller learned from the Verfassungsschutz, Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, that he had made friends with a Russian spy.
    • Unkowingly, Mr. Keller had been providing Russian intelligence with information on energy issues in Germany.
    • Germany recently expelled a Russian diplomat for spying.
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It was a short phone call, but it turned the world of Stefan Keller, who does not want to read his real name in the paper, upside down.

The man on the phone did not say much. He gave his name, then said he was an agent with the Verfassungsschutz, Germany’s domestic intelligence agency. The agent wanted to speak with Mr. Keller. In Person.

Was it a prank call? Mr. Keller hung up, then looked online for the main telephone number for the agency’s headquarters in Cologne, and called asking for the man. A few seconds later he was on the line. “Do you believe me now?” he asked.

This is a story about espionage. About how foreign agents tap sources to have the same level of knowledge on issues such as inflation, the future of the euro and the shift to renewable energy sources as German experts.

The story resembles what happened earlier this week in New York, when United States authorities broke up a presumed spy ring. According to the unsealed court documents, the three suspects, a Russian banker and two diplomats, reportedly gathered information about sanctions and alternative energy sources and relayed them to Moscow.

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