Beijing cash: Businessman faces charges after allegedly trying to make ‘quick buck’ spying for China

Streaming HUBApril 20, 2023

An Australian businessman is accused of accepting cash from suspected Chinese intelligence agents in exchange for defense and security secrets.

Alexander Sergo, 55, was arrested in the seaside town of Bondi on Friday. He is accused of accepting cash to write the reports, which the Australian Federal Police say contained information about the Australian defence, economic and national security arrangements.

According to the news of the South China Morning Post, he could face up to 15 years in prison if found guilty. Csergo appeared in court via video link from the high-security prison where he is being held.

Defense barrister Bernard Kolari told the court that his client only had “massive” open-source documents, with Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO) officials confirming that his laptop and All work was done over WeChat messages. publicly available, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reported.

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china espionage case

Parramatta Children’s Court in Parramatta, Australia on April 15, 2023 where Alexander Sergo appears by video link following a charge of foreign interference. (Reuters/Kirsty Needham)

“The fact is, as Australian businessmen know, this is an authoritarian state,” Kolari said during the bail application. “All roads lead to the state. If someone approaches you in a bar, you beware. Businessmen.”

Magistrate Michael Barko, who rejected Csergo’s bail application, argued that if he were to consider the facts of the case to “any normal person”, they would be “at least highly suspicious of the defendant’s conduct”. ” He defended Sergo’s right to make “quick money” and may have received more benefit of the doubt if the man was an “ignorant traveller”, but the businessman had lived in China since 2002.

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Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, left, President Biden and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak hold a press conference after their meeting on the Australia-United Kingdom-US (AUKUS) partnership on March 13, 2023 in San Diego, California. (Leon Neill / Getty Images)

Csergo, who worked in data marketing, testified that he met two people identified as “Ken” and “Evelyn” who reached out to him via LinkedIn. He met them in Shanghai cafes and restaurants that were largely empty, and he suspected that the pair had “clean” places ahead of their rendezvous.

He suspected that he was an agent of China’s Ministry of State Security. The pair reportedly asked him to write reports about Australia’s defense technology partnership with the US and UK, known as AUKUS, its diplomatic partnership known as the Quad and mining operations.

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Bondi Australia Beach

A man runs in the water at Bondi Beach on February 11, 2023 in Sydney, Australia. (Alexey Rosenfeld / Getty Images)

Kolari argued that the court claimed as part of its strong evidence that some practices had simple explanations: cash payments, for example, were common in China.

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But the prosecution argued that Csergo acted in ways that had little clear explanation as to if he was in fact innocent, such as inviting “Ken” to come to Australia and informing Australian authorities about his activities. I do not inform

Collaery said that Csergo no longer has any intention of returning to China and instead plans to go to the Australian government for damaging his career.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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