Kroll secured City police help in ‘Project Marten’ to protect sister company’s name
Five confidential e-mails obtained by Exaro reveal the influence that US corporate-investigations giant Kroll was able to exert over a British police force.
Kroll, which acts like a private intelligence agency, set out to silence Ian Puddick after he found out that his wife was having an affair with Tim Haynes, then a director of Guy Carpenter, the global reinsurance company.
Guy Carpenter brought in Kroll, then a sister company, because Puddick decided to embarrass Haynes by publicising the affair on the web.
“They have promised to deploy significant resources” – Benedict Hamilton, of Kroll, writing in an e-mail about City police
The e-mails show that Kroll instigated what turned out to be a doomed £1 million police investigation as part of an operation – code-named ‘Project Marten’ – to protect Guy Carpenter’s name. A member of the weasel family, martens are known as “opportunist predators”.
The Kroll e-mails span a 16-day period in July 2009 and demonstrate how the world-famous sleuths mounted a sophisticated operation against Puddick. They were sent by Benedict Hamilton, then London-based associate managing director of Kroll.
The first e-mail, dated July 9, was sent to Mel Schwartz, counsel for Marsh & McLennan Companies (MMC), then the parent company of Kroll and Guy Carpenter. MMC still owns Guy Carpenter, but sold Kroll in 2010.
It began: “While our investigation remains a work in progress, we can only come to preliminary conclusions.”
Hamilton, who works on financial investigations for Kroll, suggested putting Puddick under surveillance and obtaining court orders to raid his home and business address, and to seize his computers and mobile phones.
He concluded: “Our recommendation is for us to keep our hand hidden for a while longer, and try to increase the options available to us by collecting information covertly. This means we recommend that we place him under surveillance and seek disclosure orders from T-Mobile.
“It would seem sensible also to convey to Puddick the messages that you designed today, but without indicating to him that Kroll are engaged on this.”
The e-mail was copied to Lynsey Mansfield, head of human resources at Guy Carpenter.
On July 17, Hamilton e-mailed Schwarz again with a subject heading, “Friday update – Project Marten”.
He wrote: “Our advice is that the police [in Sussex] be given the letter and reports of the texts, but that the police are not told yet of our analysis of T-Mobile data.”
He concluded: “We are considering the relative advantages and disadvantages of the following options for the endgame: a) contacting Puddick ourselves… b) presenting our evidence to the police for them to pursue; c) seeking court injunctions against Puddick and his employees.
“As several have already noted, as a business and property owner, Puddick should realise that he has something to lose here, no matter how angry he is.”
In a further e-mail, dated July 20 Hamilton said: “We are working with Lynsey Mansfield of Guy Carpenter to ensure that the police are kept informed.”
On July 23, Hamilton e-mailed Schwarz, MMC’s legal head, to say that Sussex Police did not want to pursue the case.
A police officer in the Sussex force “faces a number of difficulties in advancing this further,” wrote Hamilton. “He thinks that our complaint is more of a civil complaint than criminal.”
However, Hamilton reported that a meeting with City of London Police went “very well”, saying: “They have offered significant assistance.”
It said that the police warned that the prosecution “will be out of our control once the police and Criminal Prosecution Service agree that there is a case to answer.”
“If they take the case on, they have promised to deploy significant resources, including, for example, identifying who had paid for the top-up credits on the mobiles.”
“If they engage, their first action will be to arrest him, search and interview. They have taken copies, of a number of our documents (not source data) and have promised to do a little work and meet again next Wednesday with their considered opinion.”
He added: “We are maximising our chances of catching the true villains by keeping our interest below their radar.”
Hamilton sent another e-mail to Schwarz the following day, showing that he still hoped that police in Sussex would take up the case. In the end, City police pursued the case, which, ultimately, collapsed.