Russian spy ring penetrated U.S. consulting firm

Vladimir Guryev, aka Richard Murphy

From Devlin Barrett, the Wall Street Journal:  A Russian spy ring busted in the U.S. two years ago planned to recruit members’ children to become agents, and one had already agreed to his parents’ request, according to current and former U.S. officials.

When the suspects were arrested in 2010 with much fanfare, official accounts suggested they were largely ineffectual. New details about their time in the U.S., however, suggest their work was more sophisticated and sometimes more successful than previously known.

One of them infiltrated a well-connected consulting firm with offices in Manhattan and Washington, D.C., by working as the company’s in-house computer expert, according to people familiar with the long-running U.S. investigation of the spy ring. . . .

A spokesman at the Russian embassy in Washington declined to comment. Officials in Moscow have previously acknowledged the spy ring but haven’t commented further. All the captured suspects eventually pleaded guilty to acting as secret agents for the Russian government. . . .

Ring members were trained agents of the SVR, a successor agency to the KGB, according to court documents filed by federal prosecutors in New York. U.S. authorities say they worked under the direction of SVR headquarters, known in the West as "Moscow Center."

Besides the plans to recruit children, the new details about the spy ring show more about what its members were up to.

U.S. officials say one of them, Richard Murphy—whose real name was Vladimir Guryev—worked for several years as the in-house computer technician at a U.S. consultancy called the G7 Group, which advised clients on how government decisions might affect global markets. The firm’s experts included its chief executive, Jane Hartley, an active Democratic fundraiser, and Alan Blinder, a former Federal Reserve vice chairman.

The infiltration is further evidence the spying focused on economic secrets as well as military and political information.

Mr. Murphy came to the G7 Group through a temporary-help agency in the early 2000s and stayed about three years, according to Ms. Hartley, who said she eventually concluded he didn’t have the technical sophistication the firm required. She said she didn’t believe he used his position to steal information.  (photo: PA)

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