Former Israeli Actress Alleged to Be Operative for Corporate-Investigation Firm

Alleged activities involving multiple companies put focus on investigative firm Black Cube

Ms. Pechanac served as a lieutenant in the Israeli Air Force and later studied acting and government, according to an online biography and other postings. She speaks Serbo-Croatian, Hebrew, English and conversational Spanish, the biography says.

.. She was born in Sarajevo, Bosnia. In 1994, her family was brought to Israel as refugees amid the Bosnian civil war.

They were welcomed in Israel because Ms. Pechanac’s maternal grandparents had sheltered Jews during the Nazi occupation. Ms. Pechanac’s mother, who was Muslim, converted to Judaism along with the rest of the family, the Yad Vashem site says.

.. Ben Wallace, a writer who had been researching an article on the film executive, said he was approached late last year by a woman claiming to be a former mistress of Mr. Weinstein’s named “Anna” looking for revenge. He has identified her as Ms. Pechanac.

.. During one meeting, Mr. Wallace recalls, “Anna” was “welling up with emotion, but it didn’t ring true.” He adds: “It makes sense she went into private investigating, not acting, because I found her acting skills not stellar.”

David Boies’s Complicated Conflicts

Did the superstar lawyer cross ethical lines in his representation of Harvey Weinstein?

“Lawyers are not permitted to engage in dishonesty or deceit,” Kathleen Clark, a Washington University law professor who specializes in legal ethics, told me. “Black Cube seems to make its living by engaging in dishonesty and deceit, at least in part.”

.. he hired several other lawyers to represent him,” he wrote. Those lawyers then sought out Black Cube and other investigators and wrote up a contract for their services. Boies, by his own telling, then returned to sign a contract drafted by other lawyers between a client he wasn’t representing and private investigators he didn’t choose or oversee in a matter he says he had declined to take part.

.. He and his firm have a long relationship with Weinstein. In 2015, the Hollywood producer hired Boies to represent him in contract negotiations with the Weinstein Company

.. During those negotiations, the company’s board of directors learned of confidential settlements between Weinstein and three or four accusers. Boies told the Times he had given some legal advice to Weinstein for one of those settlements but did not specify which.

.. The New Yorker speculated that Boies’s involvement with the Black Cube letter may have been an effort to keep secret the investigators’ activities through attorney-client privilege. But that privilege would only exist between Weinstein and Boies, not between Boies and a third party, Clark said. “There’s another privilege that’s less powerful called work-product privilege, which can apply if information is developed in anticipation of litigation,” she explained. The first paragraph of the contract between Boies Schiller and Black Cube asserts that the work was for “litigation-support services,”

.. Stephen Gillers, a New York University law professor who focuses on legal ethics, said it’s not unusual for law firms to hire private investigators, especially for corporations and wealthy clients. But he noted that firms are obligated to ensure those investigators abide by the same ethical boundaries as the lawyers themselves. “Most prominently, a lawyer cannot contact an opposing client whom he knows is represented by counsel,” Gillers pointed out. “You can’t go talk to an opponent. You have to go through his lawyer.

.. The New York State Bar Association’s rules of professional conduct instruct lawyers and law firms to “[not] engage in any conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation.” Those rules also forbid lawyers from taking adverse action against a current client by negotiating against them or representing an opponent in litigation. But state disciplinary bodies, which are often underfunded, typically only enforce these rules against the worst offenders in the legal community, Gillers said.

.. law firms usually try to avoid conflict-of-interest situations because of the potential financial impact.
.. The fear of lawsuits also acts as a deterrent. “Firms worry about civil liability, malpractice liability, breach-of-fiduciary-duty liability, they worry about disqualification from a matter,” Gillers said. “And they worry about adverse publicity.”

Mysterious Strangers Dog Controversial Insurer’s Critics

Chris Irons, an analyst at research firm GeoInvesting LLC, which has published several reports critical of AmTrust’s accounting practices, said he was contacted in July by a woman who identified herself as a London-based consultant to a European software multimillionaire seeking contributors to a new investment website. He agreed to meet at a Philadelphia-area restaurant.

Chris Irons, an analyst at research firm GeoInvesting LLC, which has published several reports critical of AmTrust’s accounting practices, said he was contacted in July by a woman who identified herself as a London-based consultant to a European software multimillionaire seeking contributors to a new investment website. He agreed to meet at a Philadelphia-area restaurant.

.. AmTrust, a fast-growing, New York-based insurance company with $5.5 billion in 2016 revenue, in recent years has attracted skepticism about its results from investors betting against its stock

.. Other AmTrust critics described similar odd approaches to The Journal, including an investor who is betting against AmTrust’s stock; a journalist who has published articles critical of AmTrust’s founders; and Mr. Irons’s boss, who said he had met two months earlier with a different “consultant” dangling a lucrative offer, who then brought up AmTrust.

.. Battles between companies and short sellers sometimes turn nasty and both sides in such disputes occasionally have used private investigators to dig up information, usually in a legitimate fashion. The investigators often are hired through law firms and the information sometimes is used in litigation.

.. An AmTrust spokeswoman said the company didn’t employ investigators to probe its critics. It declined to say whether its lawyers or others in its service had done so.

.. Investigators using fake identities and misrepresentations could run afoul of several state and federal laws, said Gavin P. Lentz, a Philadelphia attorney and former prosecutor, who isn’t involved in the matter. A company that hires such investigators potentially could be held civilly liable, Mr. Lentz said, because these are agents acting on their behalf

Generally speaking, as a private investigator you can’t misrepresent yourself” in the U.S., said James Cesarano, vice president of ethics and compliance at Kroll Associates Inc., a corporate investigations firm.

.. AmTrust has been in a long-running battle with short sellers—investors who bet against its stock—and other critics, who have claimed the insurer burnishes its financials partly by underestimating future claims and through reinsurance transactions with overseas affiliates that had the effect of hiding losses.


A Harvey Weinstein Operative Played Another Role

Woman said to work undercover for the film mogul identified as also having dogged an insurer’s critic

 “Diana Filip,” Israeli undercover operative, meet “Diana Ilic.”

A private investigator reported to be working undercover on behalf of film mogul Harvey Weinstein was identified by two people as the same woman that The Wall Street Journal reported over the summer had used a different alias to wring information out of a critic of a large U.S. insurer.

The woman in the Journal article had given her name as “Diana Ilic.” The New Yorker, in an article published Monday about Mr. Weinstein’s use of private investigators to counter probes into his alleged sexual abuse, named “Diana Filip” as a pseudonym used by an operative for Black Cube, an Israeli investigative firm.
.. The email address “Diana Ilic” used with Mr. Irons linked to a domain name established a few days before the meeting.  The London address for her consulting firm turned out to be a mailbox drop.