Centrica pension cash used to buy stake in Israel's NSO - report
Centrica’s pension cash has been used to buy a stake in controversial Israeli firm NSO Group through a private equity fund, it was alleged on Monday.
According to the Financial Times, the owner of British Gas was among the biggest contributors to a €1bn fund raised by Novalpina Capital that acquired a stake in the cyberweapon and surveillance firm in 2019.
Novalpina, which was set up in 2017 by three former TPG Capital executives, owns a 70% stake in NSO, the FT reported. The Centrica Combined Common Investment Fund has a seat on a committee of Novalpina’s biggest investors.
The blue chip declined to comment on the FT article.
NSO has been blacklisted by the US Department of Commerce, which claims its spyware was used by foreign governments to "maliciously target" officials, journalists and activists, among others. Amnesty International, meanwhile, claims that its troubled Pegasus software was used to spy on people close to murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
NSO is also facing lawsuits from Meta Platforms, formerly Facebook, and Apple. Meta claims NSO exploited a vulnerability in WhatsApp to deliver spyware, while Apple wants to block it from using its products.
NSO told the FT: "The use of cyber tools in order to monitor dissidents, activists and journalists is a severe misuse of any technology, and goes against the desire use of such critical tools.
"NSO has proven in the past it has zero-tolerance for these types of misuse by terminating multiple contracts."