Oregon examines spyware investment amid controversy

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SALEM, Ore. – The aboriginal ownership of an Israeli spyware institution whose merchandise has been utilized to hack into the cellphones of journalists, quality rights workers and perchance adjacent heads of authorities is up successful the air.

Major investors successful a backstage equity steadfast that has bulk ownership of NSO Group, the shaper of the Pegasus spyware, are successful discussions astir what enactment to take. The Oregon authorities worker pension money is 1 of the largest investors, if not the largest, having sunk $233 cardinal into Novalpina Capital, the backstage equity firm, successful 2017.

Novalpina Capital has been saddled with some an interior quality among its founding partners and an explosive study showing NSO Group's spyware has been wide misused astir the globe.

Oregon State Treasury spokeswoman Rachel Wray told The Associated Press successful an email Wednesday the section is getting involved. State officials antecedently said investors person constricted accidental successful backstage equity investments erstwhile they are completed.


“I tin corroborate that, accordant with our fiduciary duties to Oregon beneficiaries, and on with different constricted partners, (Oregon State) Treasury is progressive successful discussions related to our concern successful Novalpina,” Wray said Wednesday.

The improvement comes amid a superior disagreement among the 3 co-founders of London-based Novalpina Capital that, according to property reports from Britain, resulted successful investors moving to portion power of the money aft concluding that relations betwixt the 3 had deteriorated truthful overmuch that they could nary longer enactment together.

Sky News reported the quality was astir aboriginal deployment of Novalpina's 1 cardinal euro ($1.18 million) fund.

On apical of that interior strife, an investigation published successful July by the planetary media consortium Forbidden Stories showed that astatine slightest 180 journalists astir the satellite person been selected arsenic targets by clients of NSO Group. In 1 lawsuit highlighted by the Guardian, Mexican newsman Cecilio Pineda Birto was assassinated successful 2017 a fewer weeks aft his cellphone fig appeared connected a leaked database of much than 50,000 cellphone numbers.


French President Emmanuel Macron is 1 of respective satellite leaders who whitethorn person been targeted utilizing the spyware that is susceptible of checking a cellphone's emails and different information and turning connected its microphone and cameras.

NSO Group denied that it has ever maintained “a database of potential, past oregon existing targets.” In a abstracted statement, it called the Forbidden Stories study “full of incorrect assumptions and uncorroborated theories.”

The institution insists it lone sells to “vetted authorities agencies” for usage against terrorists and large criminals and that it has nary visibility into its customers’ data. Critics person provided grounds that NSO straight manages the high-tech spying.

Oregon State Treasurer Tobias Read, who serves arsenic the state’s main concern officer, “is pursuing and (is) acrophobic astir the reporting surrounding Novalpina and the NSO Group,” Wray said.

Wray said she cannot get into specifics astir the discussions among Novalpina's investors due to the fact that of confidentiality restrictions and Oregon's obligations arsenic a constricted partner. Read declined an interrogation request.


Oregon was Novalpina's archetypal large investor. Stephen Peel and Stefan Kowski, 2 founding Novalpina Capital partners, showed up astatine Oregon treasury offices successful the Portland suburb of Tigard successful November 2017 to marque a transportation to the Oregon Investment Council, which oversees the state’s $90 cardinal pension fund.

“As investors, we presume we person to beryllium contrarian,” Peel told the council. “We person to find deals that different radical don’t spot oregon don’t privation to bash for assorted reasons.”

The Oregon Investment Council unanimously approved a $233 cardinal commitment. Later, the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation and England’s South Yorkshire Pensions Authority invested $59 cardinal and $33 cardinal respectively.

In 2019, Novalpina Capital and the founders of NSO Group acquired a bulk involvement successful NSO Group from different backstage equity firm, Francisco Partners, that the Oregon pension money had antecedently invested in.


Novalpina’s largest investors are present considering picking Berkeley Research Group to regenerate Novalpina, the Financial Times reported. If appointed, the California-based planetary consulting steadfast would beryllium fixed a mandate to instrumentality investors’ wealth by selling the 3 companies Novalpina owns, including NSO, for the highest imaginable price, the London paper said.

Berkeley Research Group did not respond to a petition for comment. The group’s website says it “helps starring organizations beforehand successful 3 cardinal areas: disputes and investigations, firm finance, and show improvement.”

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This worldly whitethorn not beryllium published, broadcast, rewritten oregon redistributed without permission.

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