The CEO of a Canadian encrypted comms provider has been indicted by a federal grandy jury for allegedly helping organized drug traffickers to hide their communications from law enforcers.
An indictment returned on Friday means arrest warrants have been issued for Sky Global boss, Jean-Francois Eap, and former distributor Thomas Herdman. They are charged with conspiracy to violate the US Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).
According to the indictment, Sky Global made hundreds of millions of dollars over the past decade or more by providing sophisticated end-to-end encryption software to sit on iPhone, Google Pixel, Blackberry and Nokia handsets.
Routed through encrypted servers in Canada and France, conversations made using these devices would be impenetrable to police. The firm is accused of turning a blind eye to the activities of its customers, and actively protecting their identity.
For example, Sky Global staff used digital currencies to make anonymous purchases on the website for customers, to help launder the proceeds of drug-related crimes. They’re also said to have set up shell companies to hide Sky Global’s profits.
Last week, Europol claimed it had managed to access hundreds of millions of chats sent by the 70,000 global users of Sky ECC, helping police to disrupt over 100 planned criminal operations in EU member states and beyond.
Unbowed, Sky Global issued a press release claiming its encryption remained 100% secure and denying it is a platform of choice for criminals.
It has now emerged that investigators were able to wiretap the firm’s servers, according to the Department of Justice (DoJ). The notice explained that Europol’s actions had resulted in hundreds of arrests, and the seizure of thousands of kilograms of cocaine and methamphetamine, hundreds of firearms and millions of Euros.
“With technological advancement comes increased levels of criminal sophistication, but also new tools for police to combat crime,” said assistant commissioner Dwayne McDonald of the British Colombia Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).
“The RCMP will continue to adopt new technologies and strategies to keep our communities safe. Collaboration with our international policing partners, such as in this case with the FBI and DEA, has become an integral part in the ever-evolving fight against organized crime.”