Citicorp Asks FBI to Investigate Secret Taping
NEW YORK (AP) _ Citicorp says it has asked the FBI to examine clandestine audio tapes of conversations in a senior banker’s conference room.
The bank said Wednesday the tapes were made by Tony Gattillo, a New York corporate security consultant, who told Citicorp they were evidence the bank’s Park Avenue headquarters were bugged.
The consultant reportedly asked Citicorp to hire him to trace what he claimed was secret eavesdropping at the bank.
″We regarded his proposition as veiled extortion and referred the matter to the FBI,″ the bank said in a statement.
Telephone calls placed after the close of business to Gattillo’s business, Spectra Research Group in Manhattan, were not answered. Directory assistance had no listing for Gattillo in the New York region.
An FBI spokesman, also reached after the close of business, said he had no personal knowledge of the case and declined comment.
A person familiar with the case, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Gattillo was alleged to have taped the conversations from a conference calling system in the office of William Comfort, a senior vice president in charge of Citicorp’s venture capital unit.
The wireless tabletop microphones used at the conference calling system emit weak radio signals that are picked up and amplified by the system’s receiver. The technology is similar to that of a typical household cordless telephone.
Gattillo allegedly was performing security services for a bank at a nearby building when he picked up the signals while scanning radio frequencies, the source said.
The source said the taping allegedly stretched over a three-month period, but did not involve continuous recording. The tapes apparently were made when the conference calling system was activated - and when office staffers apparently forgot to turn it off.
None of the information on the tapes, the source said, contained material of value.
The Financial Times of London said in Wednesday’s editions that Gattillo believed the tapes were evidence the bank’s headquarters were illegally bugged. The newspaper said Gattillo picked up radio transmissions of conversations concerning leveraged buyouts, venture capital and real estate loans.
Citicorp’s statement said it doesn’t engage in eavesdropping ″both as a matter of policy with regard to the privacy of its employees and as a matter of compliance with the law.″