Israeli police have arrested several employees of a domestic company that makes cyber-surveillance tools and raided its offices over the weekend, according to local reports.
Although a court order has prevented many details of the case from making it into the public domain, including the identity of the suspects, the arrests were apparently made under charges of fraud, smuggling and money-laundering.
The individuals are thought to be staff at Ability Computer & Software Industries and Ability Security Systems, subsidiaries of Ability, which markets itself as providing interception technology for mobile cellular and satellite communications.
Founded in 1994 by “military and communication experts,” Ability claims to count governments, military, law enforcement and border control agencies as its customers.
However, there are suspicions that the firm may have broken Israeli laws around the export of specific security-related technologies, according to Haaretz.
The Israeli defense ministry is said to have suspended Ability subsidiaries from its official list of registered defense export companies after it exported geolocation systems without a license.
The firm is also facing a backlash from US regulator the SEC over an anti-fraud investigation dating back to 2017 about its 2015 merger with shelf company Cambridge Capital Acquisition Corporation.
Ability also paid out $3m last year to settle out-of-court with investors who said they’d been misled about the state of the firm’s finances.
The police investigation is being undertaken by the International Crime Investigations unit alongside the Director of Security of the Defense Establishment, according to the report.
The news comes just weeks after the Israeli government made moves to ease the process for exporting cyber-weapons to certain countries, despite warnings from the UN and others that such tools are being used by despotic governments to crack down on dissent.