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Posted at 6:43 PM ET, 09/23/2010

GlobalOptions sues ex-exec in security firms tiff

By Jeff Stein

Updated on Sept. 20, 2012: This lawsuit has been settled.

GlobalOptions, the private Washington security firm that once billed itself as “a private CIA,” is suing a former top executive who left the company for a competitor this summer and allegedly lured others to go with him.

It's the latest bit of publicity for companies that prize secrecy but have been forced into public controversies in recent years, G4s for its labor practices, GlobalSecurity for board members tainted by scandal.

Halsey Fischer, Global Options says in its suit, violated a no-compete contract when he resigned as the firm’s vice president for national sales and went to work for G4s, the multinational, U.K.-based security guards company that owns Wackenhut.

Fischer could not be reached for comment, but G4s rejected the charge, filed Sept. 17 in U.S. District Court in Nashville, Tenn.

“Halsey Fischer is employed to work with us in a capacity that will not violate any restrictive covenants he may have with former employers,” a company spokesman said in an e-mailed statement.

Fischer was the founder and longtime chief executive of Confidential Business Resources, a Nashville-based investigative firm. Following its acquisition by Global Resources in 2005, according to the suit, he became the firm’s president of investigations.

After he left GlobalOptions for G4s in August, the suit says, two other executives who had been working for Fischer resigned and followed him to the firm.

It's the latest sign of tumult at GlobalOptions, founded in 1998 by Neil C. Livingstone, a behind-the-scenes adviser to Reagan White House official Col. Oliver North during the arms-for-hostages deal with Iran. Livingstone left the company in late 2006 to start a similar firm, Executive Action LLC, headquartered in Dupont Circle. He took the "private CIA" moniker with him.

In 2007, GlobalOptions, which said in an SEC filing that its “foreign clients operate primarily in Russia and the Caribbean, accused Livingstone of trying to steal its clients. Asked about the outcome Thursday night, Livingstone said he was prohibited from discussing the case because of a non-disclosure agreement "but I was very happy with the outcome. The only thing that was bad was the fact that there was any publicity."

As SpyTalk reported in June, a major investor in GlobalOptions was Kenneth I. Starr, the disgraced financial adviser with an A-List stable of Hollywood clients.

Starr pled guilty Sept. 10 to swindling at least $50 million from a glittering list of film and media stars including Uma Thurman, Al Pacino, Martin Scorsese, Neil Simon, newscaster Diane Sawyer and photographer Annie Leibovitz.

In June, Starr's son Ronald, who had been managing director of his father’s investment firm, resigned from the board of GlobalOptions, where he had held a seat since its founding.

Now headed by Harvey Schiller, a former sports and broadcasting business executive and onetime executive director of the U.S. Olympic Committee, GlobalOptions today stops short of advertising itself as “a private CIA.”

But the heart of its business remains in security services and corporate intelligence.

“With a single call, through a single point of contact,” the firm’s brochure says, “you can access our entire array of international risk services - from security and investigations, to disaster preparedness and management, to fraud prevention and litigation support.”

By Jeff Stein  | September 23, 2010; 6:43 PM ET
Categories:  Financial/business, Intelligence, Lawandcourts  
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Next: A subterfuge by a group of ex-spies?

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