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Europort ‘bugs’ may be linked to 2014 surveillance operation, police believe

Two listening devices found under tables in a Europort restaurant last month may be linked to similar bugging incidents in 2014 targeting prominent lawyers and financial executives, police investigators believe.

Both devices were similar to one found under a table in a boardroom in the Gibraltar Financial Services Commission in Atlantic Suites on Europort Avenue four years ago, one senior source with knowledge of the cases told the Chronicle.

In both cases, the bugs were crude devices of a type that can be purchased online or in specialist shops.

They were also similar to at least one of the electronic surveillance devices used to target a prominent lawyer in 2014, the Chronicle understands.

Police at the time launched an investigation after a tracking device was found on the motorbike of a senior partner in one of Gibraltar’s leading law firms.

During the course of the investigation they discovered that at least three other senior figures in the financial and legal communities had been targeted too, including one whose office had been bugged with a device similar to the ones found recently.

That has led investigators to suspect all the cases may be linked, although they cannot prove this conclusively.

The devices found last month were removed by police and have since been examined.

Investigators established the bugs were unsophisticated and inactive at the time they were found, and almost certainly dated back several years.

“These were all cheap devices that can be bought over the counter,” the source said.

“The reality is that a well-positioned mobile phone would do a better job.”

Police have ruled out any state involvement in any of these cases, not least because of the basic nature of the equipment being used.

The similarity between all the devices, plus the locations where they were found, suggests the underlying motive was more likely corporate espionage.

The two latest devices were found by restaurant staff fixing a loose table-top.

The establishment in question is popular with finance centre workers and lawyers, including some of those were targeted four years ago.

The investigation remains open but police acknowledge it will be very difficult to identify who was behind the surveillance operation.

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