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NSO chairman resigns, rift between group members deepens

Asher Levy denies a connection between his resignation and recent publications

Omar Marques / SOPA Images/Sipa USA via REUTERS
Omar Marques / SOPA Images/Sipa USA via REUTERS

It’s been a week since Israel’s Calcalist website broke the story that the Israeli police used NSO Group’s spyware to remotely hack of Israeli citizens and extract information from them, and the uproar this has caused is not even close to subsiding.

Yesterday, Calcalist reported that the Group’s Chairman, Asher Levy, resigned from his position earlier this month. And while the timing appears to have everything to do with the company’s ongoing scandals, Levy insists that this was pre-scheduled, saying that he resigned due to changes in ownership.

Last July, US consulting firm BRG took over the management of the cybersurveillance company from Novalpina Capital, which controlled the majority of NSO’s shared, following a dispute between its founders.

“I was appointed by Novalpina Capital and as soon as they left I notified BRG of my wish to leave,” Levy told Calcalist. To Reuters, he said that "As soon as BRG joined the company, I called them and I said 'I suggest that you nominate somebody on your behalf, and I would like to finish my term with the company'

Levy was appointed to chair the company in 2020, following years of keeping this position empty. The company announced that he has been replaced by Finbarr O'Connor, the managing director of BRG Asset Management.

Three companies appointed temporary trustee

In other NSO-related news, BRG filed a request to the Tel Aviv District Court, requesting the appointment of a temporary trustee to three of the group’s companies, claiming it had stopped injecting funds into the group. The motion was granted.

There are also emerging reports regarding selling the Group to US venture capital firm Integrity Partners. The Marker reports that the plan is to completely rebuilt the company over the next two years and scrap most of its customers, leaving only the “Five Eyes” partners – the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, and focusing only on defensive cyber products.

Following last week’s publications, Israel’s privacy authority called on the government and Attorney General to establish an official state committee that will look into the allegations, and not make due with an internal police investigation.

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