Manchester City chief executive, Ferran Soriano, accused of spying on Barcelona

Manchester City chief executive allegedly used intelligence company to monitor staff emails

Barcelona

The Manchester City chief executive, Ferran Soriano, has become embroiled in allegations that he spied on the internal emails of Barcelona employees.

It is believed that the 45-year-old, who took over from Garry Cook last August, may be the subject of a campaign emanating from Barcelona, where some are seeking to destablise him and the club's former sporting director Txiki Begiristain. Both men left the club when Juan Laporta – a Soriano ally – was ousted as president by Sandro Rosell.

Under Spanish law, virtually anyone can trigger an investigation by lodging a complaint against the administrators of a football club. As of Tuesday night, there had been no contact between prosecutors and Soriano since their initial fact-finding investigation which started three years ago. Cook left City after it was discovered he had sent an offensive email.

Catalonia's senior prosecutor has found that when Soriano was a vice-president of the club he ordered a cyber intelligence company, Cybex Experience, to embed a device in the server of the club's internal computer, enabling all internal emails containing any one of 100 keywords to be monitored, on a total of 20 computers across every department of the club, between mid 2005 and 2008. The senior prosecutor said that "stopping leaks to the press" was the motivation behind the installation of the surveillance software – called Encase Enterprise – but eventually Cyber Experience recommended covering the whole internal network.

City declined to discuss the prosecutor's findings, which have surfaced in the Catalan media after the conclusion of her investigation. But the club's view that there is a deliberate campaign to destabilise Soriano is supported by a sequence of reports claiming that Soriano has gone back on an "honourable" pledge not to take players from Barcelona, by trying to sign Cesc Fabregas, Sergio Busquets and Pedro Rodriguez – which they have not.

There have also been reports that City are trying to gazump Barcelona for the services of Neymar. The Premier League champions are monitoring his situation, like most clubs who are capable of signing him, but have accepted that the 21-year-old will become a Barcelona player this summer.

The prosecutor found that Soriano signed off the invoices to Cybex Experience. The suggestion is that there were enough monitored words to fill a 15-page report, with a copy of each email subsequently sent to a mailbox. Cybex analysed them and passed their findings back to the executives who hired them. Anyone with an fcbarcelona.cat email address was monitored, though probably not the players.

Another company, M3, is understood to have been brought in to establish where a number of leaks were coming from in 2009.

The prosecutor also concluded that Barcelona paid a private detective agency to compile files on four presidential candidates at a cost of €16,240 each, without their knowing, at a time when Rossell was seeking to replace Laporta. There is no suggestion this is linked directly with Soriano.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee