Man charged with 'violation of secrecy or privacy with use of photo camera device' by French authorities
Legal papers have been filed in the New York Supreme Court in Manhattan by Alinghi accusing BMW Oracle of hiring a spy to snoop on the Swiss team’s new boat.
The allegations came to light following a police report in which Jean Antoine Bonnaveau, a French national living in Spain, told police he was functioning as part of a BMW-Oracle ‘recon cell’ when he visited and photographed Alinghi’s construction facility in the Swiss Villeneuve highlands on April 28-29
“I went there to take photos of the Alinghi facilities and possibly photos of boat components in movement during transit between a workshop and the tents, which I suppose are places where the boats are assembled,” he told police in Montpellier.
“I specify that I successfully took the dimensions of the tents, and I took the dimensions of additional items such as the distance between lamp posts dimensions of the buildings nearby, all to make comparisons. I stayed on the site the entire day of 28 April and the morning of 29 April 2009,” he continued.
While Bonnaveau appears to have admitted to spying, it is his claim that he was acting on behalf of BMW Oracle that will be most damaging for the current Challenger of Record.
“I did all that in the context of my work for my employer BMW Oracle Racing,” he says in the police statement.
“I specify that I was officially authorized by my company to carry out this reconnaissance,” he continues. “In fact, I am part of the design team but the entire staff can provide useful information, particularly on opposing teams. We call that a ‘recon cell’ for reconnaissance.”
According to a news story posted on the Bloomberg website, Tom Ehman, a spokesman for Ellison’s Golden Gate Yacht Club, said the Swiss were trying to dodge a previous court judgment making Ellison’s team the regatta’s official challenger by producing “trumped-up allegations that have nothing to do with the matter at hand.”