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Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, wife Mackenzie decide to divorce

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, wife Mackenzie decide to divorce

Postby smix » Wed Jan 09, 2019 3:08 pm

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, wife Mackenzie decide to divorce
Reuters

URL: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa- ... SKCN1P31ML
Category: Personals
Published: January 9, 2019

Description: (Reuters) - Amazon.com Inc Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos and wife MaCkenzie Bezos said on Wednesday they have decided to divorce after a long separation trial, Bezos posted a joint statement on Twitter .

jeff-bezos-divorce.jpg

Amazon.com again became Wall Street’s most valuable company this week, surpassing Microsoft Inc. Bezos’ fortune has soared to more than $160 billion, thanks to his stake in Amazon. From modest beginnings as an online bookseller, Bezos and Amazon branched out into almost every product category available, ending up taking on established retail giants such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Bezos founded Amazon in 1994.

jeff-mackenzie-bezos.jpg

Under Bezos, Amazon launched the Kindle e-reader and revolutionized the way books are distributed and read. The company has also been a pioneer in cloud computing. In November, Amazon picked America’s financial and political capitals for massive new offices, branching out from its home base in Seattle with plans to create more than 25,000 jobs in both New York City and an area just outside Washington, D.C.



Investors ask how the Bezos divorce will affect Amazon
Reuters

URL: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa- ... SKCN1P42BY
Category: Business
Published: January 10, 2019

Description: NEW YORK (Reuters) - Amazon.com Inc shares seesawed on Thursday as investors questioned how the impending divorce of company founder Jeff Bezos would affect his control of the most valuable company on Wall Street and its ambitious expansion plans. Bezos, whom Forbes lists as the world’s richest person, worth an estimated $136.2 billion, said via Twitter on Wednesday that he and his wife of 25 years, MacKenzie, will divorce. Amazon shares were down 0.5 percent in afternoon trading on Thursday, after gaining earlier in the session. The split throws into question how the couple will split their fortune, which includes an approximately 16 percent ownership stake in Amazon’s roughly $811.4 billion market capitalization. Divorce laws in Washington state, where they live, hold that property acquired during a marriage is generally divided equally between spouses. Most analysts and fund managers are largely sanguine and say the divorce will not lead to any significant change in the company’s leadership or its growth prospects. Prominent short-seller Doug Kass, however, who runs hedge fund Seabreeze Partners, said he sold his stake in Amazon on news of the divorce. That was after initially buying a stake in late December and naming Amazon among his “best ideas list.” “Is it premature to ask what happens to Amazon when Jeff Bezos chooses to turn over the day-to-day running of the company he founded?” he said. “His announced divorce gives me pause for thought.” The couple has multiple residences across the country, so there is a possibility the divorce could be filed in a state where marital property is not presumed to be divided equally. New York matrimonial lawyer Bernard Clair said in that case a judge would likely determine MacKenzie Bezos’ share of Amazon stock based on her contribution to her husband’s success, which could include helping him make important business decisions or raising their children so he could focus on work. Any transfer of Jeff Bezos’ stock would be subject to U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission disclosure requirements. As an officer and director at the company, Bezos could be required to file an SEC Form 4 within two business days of any transfer, though former SEC lawyer Broc Romanek noted a provision of U.S. securities laws exempts share transfers made pursuant to a domestic relations order. Even if Bezos were exempted from filing a Form 4, he would be required to update promptly the record of his Amazon holdings on file with the SEC if his position in the company changed by 1 percent or more, said D.C. securities lawyer Thomas Gorman. MacKenzie Bezos would also need to file a similar record if she received more than 5 percent of Amazon stock.

bezos-wife.jpg

Peter Henning, a securities law professor at Wayne State University, noted that Amazon, unlike fellow tech giants Facebook Inc. and Google Inc, does not give its founder’s shares greater voting rights. If MacKenzie Bezos is given a large block of shares, she could have a big say at the company. Gorman agreed. “She could wind up with some sort of control block, and get herself a directorship,” he said. “It depends on what she wants to do.” Any effort to dilute MacKenzie Bezos’ voting rights by creating a separate class of shares would require a shareholder vote, said Gorman, though he added that he thought such a move unlikely. “Nobody wants to run their divorce through a shareholder meeting,” he said. Robert Bacarella, portfolio manager of the Monetta fund, said that while he is not changing his investment in Amazon, he expects other growth-focused portfolio managers may trim their stakes due to concerns about the divorce’s impact. “This is such an over-owned company and this gives them an excuse to say ‘Maybe I’ll trim some back because it adds a new question mark’,” he said. Bacarella, however, said he is not concerned because even if MacKenzie Bezos liquidated a stake that could be as high as 8 percent, there would be no fundamental reason behind the sale. Any impact would be short-term in nature. “Unless you worry that he will get so distracted by the divorce that he cannot manage the company, this will be a non-event,” said Michael Pachter, an analyst at Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles. “He is given control of the company because shareholders like him and his vision, not because he has 50 percent of the stock.” Thomas Forte, an analyst at D.A. Davidson, said questions about the future of the company due to the divorce are legitimate due to Jeff Bezos’ outsized influence on its value. Should he leave the company for any reason, its shares would likely immediately fall more than 10 percent, he said. “His influence on the company is as a significant as if he had super-voting shares because of his track record and the way he runs the company as if he owned the whole thing,” he said.



Amazon's Bezos says National Enquirer tried to blackmail him over 'intimate photos'
Reuters

URL: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-amaz ... SKCN1PW2WH
Category: Crime
Published: February 8, 2019

Description: (Reuters) - Amazon.com Inc Chief Executive Jeff Bezos posted a blog on Thursday saying the National Enquirer’s parent company American Media Inc (AMI) tried to blackmail him with the threat of publishing “intimate photos.” The blog post is the latest twist in a weeks-long saga that has brought the personal life of Bezos, the richest person in the world, into the spotlight. Bezos and his wife announced last month that they were divorcing after 25 years of marriage, following a period of “loving exploration” and trial separation. That same day, the National Enquirer touted that it would publish alleged intimate text messages between Bezos and Lauren Sanchez, whom he was said to be dating. Since the tabloid affair, Bezos opened an investigation into the leak led by Gavin de Becker, a public safety expert and former appointee of U.S. President Ronald Reagan. De Becker proceeded to tell media that the leak was politically motivated, which, according to Bezos’s blog post Thursday, concerned AMI. “In the AMI letters I’m making public, you will see the precise details of their extortionate proposal,” Bezos wrote. “They will publish the personal photos unless Gavin de Becker and I make the specific false public statement to the press that we ‘have no knowledge or basis for suggesting that AMI’s coverage was politically motivated or influenced by political forces.’” AMI did not immediately return a request for comment. Bezos, who owns more than $120 billion in Amazon stock, continued, “If in my position I can’t stand up to this kind of extortion, how many people can?”



National Enquirer: Bezos' girlfriend's brother 'single source' for reports
Reuters

URL: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-peop ... SKCN1RC0S1
Category: Business
Published: March 31, 2019

Description: WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The publisher of the National Enquirer on Sunday said its reports on Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos’ private life were based on information from a single source, the brother of Bezos’ girlfriend, Lauren Sanchez. The statement from American Media Inc. followed publication by Bezos security chief Gavin De Becker of an article in the Daily Beast in which he said the government of Saudi Arabia had accessed private information from Bezos’ phone. While De Becker said in the article that there was “high confidence that the Saudis had access to Bezos’ phone,” it was “unclear to what degree, if any, AMI was aware of the details.” Nevertheless, AMI released a statement saying its reports on Bezos’ affair with Sanchez were based solely on information provided by Michael Sanchez, “who tipped the National Enquirer off to the affair on Sept. 10, 2018, and over the course of four months provided all of the materials for our investigation. “There was no involvement by any third party whatsoever,” it added. Gavin de Becker & Associates did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A representative for the Saudi embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.



Jeff Bezos to keep Amazon voting power after divorce
Reuters

URL: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-peop ... SKCN1RG2CI
Category: Business
Published: April 4, 2019

Description: (Reuters) - Amazon.com Inc founder and Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos will retain voting rights and 75 percent of a $143 billion stake in the company when he and MacKenzie Bezos divorce, they said on Thursday, removing uncertainty around what the split would mean for Amazon shares. The world’s richest couple had announced the impending divorce in a joint Twitter statement in January, causing some to worry that Jeff Bezos could wind up with less voting control over Amazon or that he or MacKenzie would have to liquidate large positions. “It takes the issue off the table, with less turbulence than you might have expected,” said an investor, whose company owns several million dollars worth of Amazon shares but who asked for anonymity because of a firm policy. MacKenzie Bezos also said she will give up her interests in the Washington Post, a frequent target of criticism from U.S. President Donald Trump that Jeff Bezos bought in 2013, and the rocket company Blue Origin he founded in 2000. “Grateful to have finished the process of dissolving my marriage with Jeff,” MacKenzie Bezos said in a Twitter post on Thursday outlining the divorce settlement. It was her first and only tweet from an account created this month. Amazon, the world’s biggest online retailer, said in a regulatory filing that 4 percent of its outstanding shares would be registered in MacKenzie Bezos’ name after court approval of the divorce. Jeff Bezos will keep sole voting authority over the shares unless MacKenzie donates them to a nonprofit or sells them in the open market. The divorce is expected to be finalized in about 90 days, the filing said. Amazon shares closed down 0.1 percent at $1,818.86. Jeff Bezos, 55, is seen as essential to Amazon’s meteoric growth and stock price rise since he founded the company as an online bookseller in 1994. He has credited MacKenzie, 48, for her support when he uprooted the young couple to Seattle from New York to launch Amazon. “When I think about Amazon, and the influence Bezos has on Amazon, I would argue his influence would be the same if he had 51 percent shares outstanding or 1 percent. I think his influence is dictated by his vision for Amazon,” D.A. Davidson analyst Tom Forte said.
STILL EXTREMELY WEALTHY
MacKenzie Bezos will remain extremely wealthy. Her stake in Amazon, valued at roughly $36 billion, is worth more than the market values of nearly 70 percent of the components of the S&P 500. That includes companies like eBay Inc, Allstate Corp and Twitter Inc. The settlement also suggests that Amazon will be spared the kind of boardroom battle that has plagued other companies whose owners are dealing with family rifts, even though the divorce had jolted the once private Bezos couple into the public spotlight. Jeff Bezos re-tweeted MacKenzie’s statement and added in a separate post that he was grateful “for her support and for her kindness in this process.” Liat Sadler, a San Francisco matrimonial lawyer, said the settlement should put investors at ease. “They’ve done a lot of work behind the scenes to make their breakup as amicable as it seems,” she said. Still, Sadler added, “Without knowing what cash she received, I have no idea how favorable it was to him or not.” The day they announced their separation on Twitter, the National Enquirer promised to reveal an affair it claimed had ended their marriage, contrary to the couple’s statement that they were on a “long period of loving exploration and trial separation.” The U.S. tabloid then published alleged photos and intimate text messages between Bezos and his new partner, former television news anchor Lauren Sanchez. Jeff Bezos in February had said the tabloid was trying to blackmail him unless he said in public that the American supermarket tabloid’s reporting on him was not politically motivated. The paper’s parent, American Media Inc, has said that reporting on an extramarital relationship involving the world’s richest man was lawful and it would investigate his claims. American Media and its CEO David Pecker have had close links to Trump, who on Twitter has attacked Bezos, Amazon and the newspaper he owns privately, the Washington Post.
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Lauren Sanchez’s ‘loose lips’ lead to leak of racy Jeff Bezos texts

Postby smix » Fri Jan 11, 2019 1:06 pm

Lauren Sanchez’s ‘loose lips’ lead to leak of racy Jeff Bezos texts
New York Post

URL: https://pagesix.com/2019/01/10/lauren-s ... zos-texts/
Category: Lifestyle
Published: January 10, 2019

Description: Former TV anchor Lauren Sanchez had “loose lips” about her relationship with Amazon chief Jeff Bezos, sources tell The Post — and now the whole world knows.

lauren-sanchez.jpg

Cringe-worthily romantic text messages exchanged between the pair and published on Thursday by the National Enquirer raised the question of which member of the besotted-but-still-married pair leaked them to the tabloid. Sources close to the investigation say Sanchez sent the sexts to a friend to show off about her relationship with the world’s richest man — and then the pal slipped the texts to the Enquirer. “Lauren’s over the moon [about their relationship],” said a source. Meanwhile, a source who has seen the raunchier text messages — which the tabloid didn’t publish, but that include explicit selfies — says Bezos has more to boast about than his bank account. “He’s big,” said the insider. One Enquirer staffer who worked on the story says the four-month-long operation — amusingly dubbed “Project Alexa,” after Amazon’s digital assistant — was top secret. “Only four editorial people knew of Project Alexa,” the staffer said. “We followed their every move. They had no idea — which is kinda ironic given [Bezos] had his own private security with him all along.” Sanchez did not return a call seeking comment.
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Bezos Divorce Might Be Handled as ‘Quickly as An Amazon Delivery’

Postby smix » Mon Jan 14, 2019 5:07 pm

Bezos Divorce Might Be Handled as ‘Quickly as An Amazon Delivery’
Bloomberg News

URL: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles ... -be-simple
Category: Business
Published: January 12, 2019

Description: The high-stakes divorce of Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos will involve unimaginable sums of money but the case may be easier to negotiate than with regular earners, simply because they are so rich. “Their divorce will be handled as quickly as an Amazon delivery,” said West Coast-based attorney Christopher Melcher. There is no minimizing the trauma of splitting up, even with adult children and ample financial security. Yet divorce lawyers say when very large amounts of money are involved, there’s simply more gauze for the wounds. Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com Inc., has a net worth of $137 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. The couple intends to part “as friends,” and MacKenzie may well become the world’s richest woman. Sergey Brin, a Google founder worth over $50 billion, and his wife, Anne Wojcicki, herself a major figure in Silicon Valley, sought to keep their parting amicable over the last few years. They have appeared in public together and continue raising their two children jointly.
Job Done
When Harold Hamm, the oil and gas executive, and his wife, Sue Ann divorced in 2014, he wrote a check for an estimated $975 million, about 5 percent of his worth. The check, he said at the time, “got the job done” after years of bitterness. It sounds obvious, but experts note that, with more wealth, each dollar means less – and that can turn down the emotional thermometer, at least in public. "They became extraordinarily wealthy because they were smart,” said Michael Stutman, a prominent divorce lawyer. “And smart people do not spend money on lawyers fighting over the emotional landscape. They spend their money doing what they can to maximize their post-divorce net worth.” He added, though: “Sometimes an expensive dispute can’t be avoided.”
Dodgers Pain
Take the example of Frank and Jamie McCourt, the former Los Angeles Dodgers owners. They moved to L.A. in 2014, spending millions on homes and pools, reportedly even $10,000 a month on hairstyling. Five years later they were trading charges, including infidelity, insubordination (he fired her as the team’s CEO) and other transgressions. He paid her $130 million as part of their divorce in 2009, as the team went into bankruptcy and was later resold. “They dragged the team through their personal battle," said Melcher, of Walzer Melcher in Los Angeles. Divorces of the very rich can also become complicated when they cover several jurisdictions, philanthropies, money stashed off-shore and high-end assets like art. The divorce between Russia’s Dmitry Rybolovlev and his wife Elena unfolded over six jurisdictions and resulted in years of acrimony. In 2014, a Swiss judge awarded her $4.8 billion, though they next year they settled for reportedly less than that – though still a considerable sum. Randy Kessler, an Atlanta-based divorce lawyer, gave one further caveat. If the lawyers involved in the Bezos case make even the smallest mistake, it could cost a billion dollars. “It would scare me,” he said.
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Bezos’ Investigators Question the Brother of His Mistress, Lauren Sanchez, in National Enquirer Leak Probe

Postby smix » Fri Feb 08, 2019 11:50 am

Bezos’ Investigators Question the Brother of His Mistress, Lauren Sanchez, in National Enquirer Leak Probe
Daily Beast

URL: https://www.thedailybeast.com/bezos-inv ... leak-probe
Category: Politics
Published: January 31, 2019

Description: Michael Sanchez is an outspoken Trump supporter with ties to Roger Stone and Carter Page.
Jeff Bezos’ top personal security consultant has questioned his mistress’ brother as part of the probe into how the couple’s text messages wound up in the hands of the National Enquirer. Gavin de Becker, the Amazon chief’s longtime personal security consultant and the point person for the investigation, confirmed to The Daily Beast on Wednesday that his probe has scrutinized Michael Sanchez, the brother of Bezos mistress Lauren Sanchez and a personal and business associate of Trumpworld figures including Roger Stone, Carter Page, and Scottie Nell Hughes. On Wednesday, The Daily Beast first reported the existence of that investigation, which is taking place independent of Amazon and being funded by Bezos personally. Three sources familiar with the inquiry said it was increasingly probable that whoever leaked the text messages to the Enquirer, which ran a conspicuously large 12-page spread on Bezos’ affair, harbored political animosity towards Bezos, the owner of the Washington Post. Michael Sanchez’s name bubbled up on the British celebrity news and gossip website Popbitch last week in the context of the Enquirer story. Stone also mentioned Sanchez in an interview with conspiracy theory site Infowars on Wednesday that sought to preempt The Daily Beast’s reporting by falsely claiming that it would accuse him of conspiring with the Trump administration to hack Bezos’ phone. Asked about Sanchez, de Becker, a former Reagan administration appointee and Justice Department adviser, told The Daily Beast, “Michael Sanchez has been among the people we’ve been speaking with and looking at.” De Becker would not elaborate on their conversations, and stressed that the investigation is ongoing. But he confirmed that “strong leads point to political motives.” According to two sources familiar with de Becker’s investigation, Sanchez has suggested that the “deep state,” and specifically the National Security Agency, may have been responsible for obtaining text messages from Bezos’ phone. Investigators have not taken that possibility seriously. Sanchez declined to comment for this story. By his own account, Sanchez is not your typical conservative. He’s described himself as “a gay man, a Hispanic, a West Hollywood homeowner and strong supporter of Trump.” He appears to share Trump’s antipathy to significant segments of the political press, occasionally using his Twitter account to deride “fake news” critical of the president. Stone confirmed his association with Sanchez in text messages with The Daily Beast on Wednesday evening. “I do know Michael Sanchez—very good guy,” he wrote. Stone proceeded to deny that he hacked Bezos’ phone. When The Daily Beast pointed out that it had never suggested or asked if he had, Stone replied, “You are busted. You are not a journalist. No one believes anything you write.” According to documents reviewed by The Daily Beast, Stone and Sanchez were in touch about the National Enquirer story in the days after it ran—and in the days before Stone was arrested by the FBI and charged with seven criminal counts related to the federal investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. Those documents show that Sanchez was also in contact with another figure caught up in the Russia investigations, former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page. Page told The Daily Beast that he and Sanchez have a personal and professional relationship. “Michael is a friend and his agency, Axis Management, has represented me in the past,” he said in a text message. Page also said that Sanchez had “arranged my appearance at Politicon in L.A. last October.” Page declined to go into further detail when asked about the last time that he spoke to Sanchez. Page and Sanchez were indeed pictured together at Politicon in October, along with another former Sanchez client, one-time Trump-boosting commentator and campaign-trail ally Scottie Nell Hughes. Hughes settled a lawsuit with Fox News last year after alleging she was raped by Fox Business Network host Charles Payne, charges Payne and the network have denied. During that lawsuit, emails between Hughes and Payne were leaked to the press, including to Radar Online, a publication owned by the same parent company as the National Enquirer.



Mistress’ Brother Leaked Bezos’ Racy Texts to Enquirer, Sources Say
Daily Beast

URL: https://www.thedailybeast.com/mistress- ... rces-say-7
Category: Politics
Published: February 10, 2019

Description: Multiples sources tell The Daily Beast that Michael Sanchez, a Trumpworld associate and brother to Bezos’ lover, gave the couple’s texts to The National Enquirer.
The brother of Jeff Bezos’ mistress, Lauren Sanchez, supplied the couple’s racy texts to the National Enquirer, multiple sources inside AMI, the tabloid’s parent company, told The Daily Beast. Another source who has been in extensive communication with senior leaders at AMI confirmed that Michael Sanchez first supplied Bezos’ texts to the Enquirer. AMI has previously refused to identify the source of the texts, but a lawyer for the company strongly hinted at Sanchez’s role during a Sunday morning interview on ABC. “The story was given to the National Enquirer by a reliable source that had given information to the National Enquirer for seven years prior to this story. It was a source that was well known to both Mr. Bezos and Ms. Sanchez,” attorney Elkan Abramowitz told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos. Asked directly whether Sanchez was the source, Abramowitz said, “I can’t discuss who the source was. It’s confidential within AMI.” An AMI spokesperson declined to comment for this story. Asked directly more than a half-dozen times whether or not he supplied the texts to the Enquirer, Sanchez declined to do so. As The Daily Beast was the first to report, Bezos launched his own investigation into who leaked the texts. The security consultant he hired, Gavin de Becker, has repeatedly declined to disclose the findings of his investigation, including whether or not it had determined Sanchez was the culprit. But he did say the probe is over and the results will be turned over to the authorities. “Our investigation into who initially provided texts to the National Enquirer, and why it was done—that investigation is now complete. We have turned our conclusions over to our attorneys for referral to law enforcement,” de Becker told The Daily Beast on Sunday. “Our investigation into what the National Enquirer and [publisher] AMI did after they received the initial texts—that investigation is ongoing,” he added. The identity of the Enquirer’s source was only one of the many mysteries in a tale that is sordid and tangled, even by supermarket tabloid standards. Still unresolved: why Sanchez allegedly supplied the information to the Enquirer; why the Enquirer promoted a story about Bezos with such vigor; what, if anything this had to do with the Enquirer’s long-standing support for Trump; why its parent company was so bothered by the suggestion that it was motivated by “external forces, political or otherwise”; and why AMI tried to later coerce Bezos with a previously-unreleased “d*ck pick.” Documents reviewed by The Daily Beast show that Michael Sanchez believed the Enquirer pursued its story about Bezos with “President Trump's knowledge and appreciation”—a chase encouraged, in Sanchez’s estimation, by Republican operatives “who THINK Jeff gets up every morning and has a WaPo meeting to plot its next diabolical attack on President Trump.” No one who spoke to The Daily Beast implied that Michael Sanchez in any way hacked his sister’s phone, and he has not been charged with any crime. In fact, three people familiar with the Bezos-funded probe told The Daily Beast in late January that it had found no evidence of a hack. However, Bezos’ investigators have strongly suspected Sanchez was the leaker since at least last week, according to two people familiar with the investigation. “There is no one inside this inquiry process who doesn’t believe he’s ground zero,” one of those sources said. Abramowitz, the AMI lawyer, appeared to confirm this in his Sunday interview, saying, “Any investigator that was going to investigate this knew who the source was.” The Daily Beast previously reported that de Becker had interviewed Sanchez as part of his probe. Of particular interest were his personal and business ties to some prominent figures in President Donald Trump’s orbit, including Roger Stone, Carter Page, and Scottie Nell Hughes. (Her private emails, it should be noted, were once leaked to an AMI-owned publication.) As The Daily Beast previously reported last week, documents show that Sanchez and Stone were in touch about the National Enquirer story in the days after it ran. “I’ve never hacked anyone,” Stone told The Daily Beast, which had neither suggested or asked if he had. “I do know Michael Sanchez—very good guy.” He certainly was a reliable and public supporter of the president. “For anyone too stupid or too bitter to admit Mueller’s pack of @POTUS-hating @TheDemocrats is leading an out-of-control witch hunt, read about @jerome_corsi," Sanchez wrote in a more-or-less typical tweet. “Muellerism = McCarthyism.” According to the Washington Post, Sanchez said he had heard from AMI staffers that the tabloid operation was in the middle of “a takedown to make Trump happy.” And it did. The cover story and the highly unusual 12-page spread that accompanied what the paper called its “largest investigation” ever prompted President Trump to tweet, “So sorry to hear the news about Jeff Bozo being taken down by a competitor.” Trump and AMI chief David Pecker have been friends for decades, and began working together professionally in the late 1990s, when a Pecker-led publishing company began putting out a quarterly, Trump-branded style magazine. In the years since, Trump was an extensive subject of and source for coverage by AMI-owned publications. And as Pecker has now admitted, he used AMI to buy up stories damaging to Trump and sit on them—a tactic known as “catch and kill”—most notably to bury the testimony of an alleged Trump mistress in the final weeks of the 2016 presidential campaign. Pecker and his deputy, AMI chief content officer Dylan Howard, escaped prosecution for their roles in that scheme after agreeing to cooperate with federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York. That office is now examining whether AMI may have violated that agreement. Presumably, the attorneys retained as part of Bezos’ probe will turn over what information they have to the Southern District. Though de Becker declined to identify the attorneys, The Daily Beast has learned they include famed Watergate Special Prosecutor Richard Ben-Veniste, and William Isaacson, an partner at Boies Schiller Flexner. The firm has previously represented AMI. Sanchez’s alleged involvement in the Bezos leak, and his ties to various Trumpworld figures, has informed investigators’ conclusions that the disclosure was at least in part politically motivated, a finding that drew intense efforts from AMI to insulate the Enquirer’s reporting from any allegations that they were seeking to please Trump, a close friend of AMI chief executive David Pecker. But those efforts backfired in dramatic fashion this week, after Bezos publicly posted copies of emails sent by AMI executive Dylan Howard and lawyer John Fine. In one of those emails, Howard threatened to publish sexually suggestive photos of Bezos and Sanchez if the Washington Post didn’t back off its investigations of the Enquirer. “American Media emphatically rejects any assertion that its reporting was instigated, dictated or influenced in any manner by external forces, political or otherwise,” wrote Fine. “Any further dissemination of these false, vicious, speculative and unsubstantiated statements is done at your client’s peril.” To Bezos, the mention of “external forces” seemed to suggest that AMI’s past promotion of the Saudi royal family might have informed its decision to pursue and publish with such unprecedented vigor its lengthy expose on Bezos’ affair. “For reasons still to be better understood, the Saudi angle seems to hit a particularly sensitive nerve,” Bezos wrote.



How the Saudis Made Jeff Bezos Public Enemy No. 1
Daily Beast

URL: https://www.thedailybeast.com/how-the-s ... ic-enemy-1
Category: Politics
Published: February 25, 2019

Description: Inside the four-month campaign targeting the world’s richest man.
It sounded almost like a conspiracy theory when Jeff Bezos not-so-subtly hinted that there might be a Saudi connection to the attempt to strong-arm him with his “below the belt selfies.” But there’s mounting evidence that the de facto ruler of the kingdom has been trying to punish Bezos for the fierce coverage by his newspaper, The Washington Post, of the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. This effort began months prior to the aggressive approach by the National Enquirer’s parent company. Where’s the evidence? Well, it’s in plain sight. Along with a team of independent Arab experts and activists around the world, I have been closely monitoring the actions of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman—commonly referred to as MBS—since his rise in 2015—and specifically, his well-oiled online propaganda machine.
Twitter’s Role in MBS’ Power Grab
There’s a lot one can learn about what the Saudi leadership is thinking if one pays close attention to the narratives pushed and promoted by the extensive Twitter networks under its control. In fact, at the time of his murder, my friend Jamal Khashoggi was working with us on a project to do exactly this—but the crown prince stopped him cold. Twitter is huge in Saudi Arabia—the country boasts one of the world’s highest rates of Twitter penetration. Because Saudi Arabia lacks a free press, and bans political parties and NGOs, Saudi citizens took to Twitter as their only outlet to discuss public matters. By 2015, Twitter had become the premier hangout of Saudi intellectuals, a critical public sphere often called “The Parliament of the Arabs.” This changed with the rise of MBS. Twitter’s immense popularity led the crown prince and his advisers to conquer Arabic-language Twitter, and turn it from a space of public debate among citizens into one of the kingdom’s primary tools of social control. Why? To prevent their biggest fear: Arab Spring-style dissent in Saudi Arabia. By the end of 2018, MBS’ conquest of Twitter was complete: Prominent independent tweeters were in jail, in exile, compromised by blackmail, intimidated into silence—or dead. No longer was there such a thing as an independent voice within Saudi Arabia—you had to either stop being independent, stop having a voice, or stop being in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Twitter is now presided over by a closely controlled network of pro-government accounts—political messages posted on it represent government-promoted narratives, not independent opinion. We have been tracking the government’s social-media program on our website; here is a small sample of how it works:
How MBS Unleashed His Electronic Army on Bezos
* Oct. 1: Digital security experts at Citizen Lab confirm the phone of Omar Abdulaziz, a Canada-based Saudi dissident who maintained close and daily contact with Jamal Khashoggi, was targeted using state-of-the-art cyberspying software. It is later revealed that digital communications between Abdulaziz and Khashoggi were being intercepted for several months ahead of this point.
* Oct. 2: Jamal Khashoggi is last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Soon, The Washington Post raises the alarm and demands answers from the Saudi government.
* Oct. 7: Turkey asserts that Khashoggi has been killed inside the Saudi consulate. The Post escalates its relentless coverage, demanding justice for Jamal.
* Oct. 15: A hashtag linking Jeff Bezos to the Post’s reporting appears on Saudi social media: “Boycott Amazon.” The first tweet with the hashtag proclaims: “To the people of the Great Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: The leftist Jeff Bezos is the owner of The Washington Post, the newspaper of evil and betrayal… we have to defend our country and boycott Amazon.”
* Nov. 2: The Washington Post publishes an op-ed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whom the Saudi government accuses of “politicizing” Khashoggi’s murder.
* Nov. 3: A spike in anti-Bezos tweets begins in Saudi social media showing clear signs of government manipulation. In addition to “Boycott Amazon,” two additional hashtags are launched, one calling for the boycott of Souq.com, an Amazon-owned Middle Eastern e-commerce company. The initial tweet reads: “We as Saudis will never accept to be attacked by The Washington Post in the morning, only to buy products from Amazon and Souq.com by night! Strange that all three companies are owned by the same Jew [sic] who attacks us by day, and sells us products by night!”
* Nov. 4: Several news outlets notice the calls to boycott Amazon on Saudi social media—and at least one points to clear signs of manipulation.
* Nov. 5: The Washington Post publishes an op-ed titled “It’s time to halt business in Saudi Arabia.”
* Nov. 9: A prominent MBS surrogate revives calls to boycott Amazon and Souq.com, using a screengrab of the above op-ed to make his point. This is followed by another surge in anti-Bezos tweets.
* Nov. 9: The Washington Post publishes an op-ed by Mohammad Ali al-Houthi, a leader of the Houthis, the rebel group the Saudi-led coalition has been fighting in Yemen since 2015
* Nov. 10 - Nov. 19: Large and sustained spike in anti-Bezos tweets as three more hashtags are launched, including: “The owner of Amazon and Souq is attacking us” and “Bezos threatens us while Souq.com trades with us.” This time the surge includes graphics, cartoons, and videos disparaging Bezos.
* A cartoon appears of Bezos seemingly running away from a shoe-throwing, insult-hurling Saudi citizen—the cartoonist made sure to depict Bezos holding a copy of The Washington Post, with an op-ed of the Houthi leader on its front page.
* Several videos appear describing Bezos’ relationship with the Post, and calling for a boycott. One video says Bezos is a “spiteful racist person against our country and trying to destabilize us.”
* A graphic with a picture of Bezos is captioned “This is the hateful filth,” and describes him as “spearheading the media attacks on Saudi Arabia, specialized in defaming our reputation in the world,” among other things.
* Another graphic, captioned “The Jew: Jeff Bezos,” links Bezos to The Washington Post, Amazon, and Souq.com (Note: Though Jeff Bezos isn’t Jewish, claiming public figures are Jewish in order to tie them to all sorts of nefarious activities is a well-known anti-Semitic trope.)
Anti-Bezos hashtags die down for a while after this point, until on Jan. 10 the National Enquirer publishes its special issue dedicated to revealing Bezos’ affair. MBS surrogates immediately engage in schadenfreude: “Jeff Bezos has incited against Saudi Arabia and its leadership for weeks via his Washington Post, and now has been struck by a marital infidelity scandal that will cost him half his fortune in the divorce. In brief—whoever earns Saudi Arabia’s enmity will be broken, disparaged, and ended by God.” Something tells me it wasn’t divine intervention.
Missing Link: The National Enquirer & the Saudis
You now know the Saudis have been active against Jeff Bezos and The Washington Post since October of last year, but that tells only half the story. Remember what Bezos wrote in his Medium post:
“Several days ago, an AMI leader advised us that Mr. Pecker is ‘apoplectic’ about our investigation. For reasons still to be better understood, the Saudi angle seems to hit a particularly sensitive nerve.”

On our website, we have been looking into what is known about AMI’s connection to the Saudis, and I’ll share just a few quick examples here. First, some context: Ahead of these events, David Pecker’s company was $1.3 billion in debt, and losing more than $70 million per year. Since all these events, its finances have sharply and mysteriously improved.
* July 2017: David Pecker’s agent, Ari Emanuel, introduces Pecker to MBS intermediary Kacy Grine. Pecker takes Grine to the White House to meet with President Trump and Jared Kushner
* Sept. 2017: Pecker travels to Saudi Arabia and has a meeting with MBS and Grine
* Jan. 2018: Pecker seeks Saudi money to finance his dream purchase: Time magazine
* March 12, 2018: In advance of a high-profile MBS visit to the U.S., AMI prints and nationally distributes 200,000 copies of “The New Kingdom”—an expensive 97-page glossy containing no ads. Its sole topic is how MBS is changing the world for the better. At $13.50 per copy, it wasn’t a bestseller. AMI will later claim it received no money or other consideration from the Saudis for the magazine.
* March 19, 2018: Ari Emanuel receives a $400 million investment from the Saudi sovereign wealth fund. (Ari Emanuel used to be Donald Trump’s agent, too.) This is the same day MBS began a grand tour of the United States.
* March 24, 2018: A controversy erupts over who paid for the mystery magazine. While denying any prior knowledge, one Saudi diplomat says it was “not effective.” The senior spokesperson for the Saudi ambassador tweets: “Neither the embassy nor any other part of the government commissioned this and we don’t know who did. If you find out, we’d love to know.”
But of course, they did know, because the Saudi embassy had received an advance copy of the magazine weeks before publication. AMI had secretly sent an electronic copy of the magazine on Feb. 19. It was then circulated internally among Saudi officials, and even forwarded to their foreign-policy contacts in D.C. Attention to this mystery magazine was—and remains—a big problem for David Pecker and AMI, because under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), any U.S. entity representing the interests of a foreign power must disclose its relationship with the foreign government. Examples include acting “at the order, request, or under the direction or control, of a foreign principal.” So what could AMI do? Try to make a retroactive submission to the Department of Justice.
* May 14, 2018: AMI writes the first of two letters to the DOJ’s National Security Division asking if publishing a magazine like the one it had already published would require it to register as a foreign agent. In the letters, it makes the hard-to-believe claim that publishing the magazine was “a business decision based on anticipated revenue.” It is forced to acknowledge that MBS intermediary Kacy Grine played a major role in creating the magazine, including that he “submitted an article… reviewed a working copy of the draft publication, suggested some changes, and provided additional images.” The DOJ replied that AMI would not run afoul of the FARA Act if the facts described in its letters were true, correct, and complete. “If any of the facts with respect to activities undertaken… in this matter are different in any way from those depicted in your submission, please notify this office.” We don’t know if AMI contacted the DOJ again on this matter, but we do know its finances improved significantly.
* June 15, 2018: Despite being heavily in debt, AMI announces it has made a new $80 million acquisition: 13 titles from its main competitor, Bauer Media.
* July 27, 2018: Reports indicate AMI is seeking to raise $425 million.
A King-Size Coincidence
AMI was about to find the kind of scandal about Bezos that its Saudi friends would kill for.
* Sept. 10, 2018: Michael Sanchez, a Hollywood manager with connections to some Trumpworld characters, tells “a political acquaintance” about a huge coincidence in his life. His sister Lauren is having an affair with none other than Jeff Bezos. (Michael Sanchez has since been identified by CNN, AP, Vanity Fair, The Washington Post, The Daily Beast, and even AMI as the person who provided Bezos’ personal texts to the National Enquirer.)
* Same day: AMI’s Dylan Howard commences work on the story about Bezos’ affair
* Sept. 20: David Pecker and his deputy, Dylan Howard, are granted a non-prosecution agreement by the U.S. Attorney in exchange for providing testimony against President Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen (related to the Enquirer’s “catch and kill” scheme)
Though AMI now had a huge tabloid scoop on its hands, it didn’t publish for another four months. It sat on the story, week after week, every day risking the loss of its exclusive. What was it waiting for? A final timeline may contain the answer.
* Jan. 7, 2019: AMI’s Dylan Howard finally sends a message advising Bezos that it has the story and will publish within three days
* Jan. 9: AMI announces that it has “successfully completed the refinancing of all outstanding debt.” Although the company was emphatic that no foreign investors were directly involved, AMI refused to name its white knights. It has not ruled out that the Saudis may have invested indirectly, as you’ll see below.
* Jan. 10: The National Enquirer publishes a special-edition midweek issue, an unprecedented 12-page story about Bezos’ affair. Although Bezos is known to most Americans as the world’s richest man and the founder of Amazon, on the magazine cover, beneath the photo of Bezos are the words “The Owner of The Washington Post”—the same way the Saudi Twitter campaigns had been describing him for months.
* Jan. 11: Bezos directs his security adviser Gavin de Becker to undertake an investigation to determine who provided his private texts to the Enquirer, and why. Bezos gave de Becker “whatever budget is needed to pursue the facts.”
* Jan. 31: De Becker tells The Daily Beast that “strong leads point to political motives.”
* Feb. 1: A letter is sent by AMI to the attorney for De Becker, stressing that the Enquirer’s reporting on Bezos “has not been instigated, dictated, or influenced in any manner by external forces, political or otherwise.” This is followed four days later by another letter warning De Becker to stop pursuing his investigation into AMI’s motives for publishing the story. It repeats: “Our reporting and news gathering on these matters has not been instigated, dictated or influenced in any manner by external forces, political or otherwise.”“External forces, political or otherwise.” Their words, not mine. Was their concern merely that the investigation would reveal that the Bezos hit piece might have been done as a political favor to Trump? That wasn’t likely the worry, given that everybody already knows about the Trump-Enquirer relationship.
When all else fails
Finding that it couldn’t easily stop De Becker’s well-funded investigation, AMI began the strong-arm attempt that Bezos would soon publicly reveal. Its most senior content officer, Dylan Howard, sent Bezos’ attorney a salacious tabloid-style itemization of 10 intimate photos in its possession. “It would give no editor pleasure to send this email. I hope common sense can prevail—and quickly.” (Very early in the morning that same day, the Saudi government’s anti-Bezos hashtags that had been dormant for weeks suddenly show a strong spike of clearly manipulated activity.) Bezos and De Becker both refused the Enquirer’s offer, Bezos rather famously. Whatever AMI wanted from De Becker, it must have been worth the Enquirer giving up photos that might well have created its biggest-selling issue. Here is the actual statement it wanted De Becker to make in a public news release: “We do not believe and have no basis for suggesting that the reporting undertaken by American Media and The National Enquirer was instigated, influenced, motivated, or dictated in any manner by external political forces, nor do we believe they utilized any form of electronic eavesdropping or hacking…” While the Saudi government definitely possesses advanced hacking capabilities, nobody had ever reported anything about electronic eavesdropping in connection with the Bezos story at this point. For that matter, nobody other than AMI had ever used the phrase “external political forces.” And yet, those are the words it cared about so much that it was willing to give up its valuable photos, and willing to try to coerce the world’s richest man.
More ‘Investors’ Bail Out AMI
Weeks ago, David Pecker’s CFO told reporters at Bloomberg News that AMI has again been saved, this time by “several new investors that came into the fold.” Though he would not name the investors, he added: “There is no direct investment in the company’s debt or equity by the Saudis.” Rarely has the word “direct” caused a statement to be so indirect. Meanwhile, the Saudis continue their smear campaign against Bezos. On Feb. 15, a verified pro-government account initiated a new hashtag, tweeting a close-up picture of Bezos, with a message to Saudis: “He has a lot of hatred for your country, so how will you respond? Delete your account on Amazon.” (We continue to track the Saudi media campaign, both on social media and traditional media, on our website.)
Conspiracy Theory or Conspiracy Facts?
Direct evidence of secret government actions and relationship is hard to come by. But here are some questions we can answer with confidence:
1. Does AMI have a known history of doing political hit pieces? Yes.
2. Does AMI have a close working relationship with the Saudis? Yes.
3. Was AMI deeply in debt? Yes.
4. Did AMI seek money from the Saudis? Yes.
5. Did a company run by an associate of Pecker's receive money from the Saudis? Yes, lots of it.
6. Was AMI concerned about FARA and FCPA violations? Yes.
7. Did the Saudis wage a months-long government-manipulated social-media campaign against Bezos and The Washington Post? Yes.
8. Was AMI’s David Pecker “apoplectic” over the paper’s investigation into Saudi connections? According to Bezos, Yes.
9. Did AMI try very hard to stop the investigation? Yes.
Is this collection of facts no more than coincidence? Or is there something else at play? Time will tell.



National Enquirer Paid $200K to Jeff Bezos’ Mistress’ Brother for Texts: WSJ
Daily Beast

URL: https://www.thedailybeast.com/national- ... -texts-wsj
Category: Politics
Published: March 19, 2019

Description: National Enquirer’s parent company paid $200,000 to the brother of Lauren Sanchez—reported mistress of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos—for “racy” text messages as evidence of their affair, The Wall Street Journal reports. The deal with Michael Sanchez reportedly caused rifts within American Media (AMI), with CEO David Pecker reportedly having “reservations” about publishing the story. According to the newspaper, Pecker was concerned that Bezos would sue if the Enquirer ran with the story. An adviser also reportedly informed Pecker that publishing the story could look like a move to benefit President Trump, a vocal critic of Bezos. Despite Pecker’s qualms, he reportedly approved the deal—but he did not know Sanchez would be paid by AMI upfront and would be allowed to sell the texts elsewhere if the Enquirer didn’t publish them in “about a month’s time.” When Pecker found out about the deal’s specifics from AMI’s general counsel, Cameron Stracher, over lunch, he reportedly started “raising his voice and cursing.” Sources close to Pecker told the Journal he felt as if he was “being forced to run the story.” In a statement to The Daily Beast, Sanchez called the Journal’s story “old rumors.” “I didn’t dignify the rumors last month and I’m not going to dignify them now,” he said. A spokesman for Bezos reportedly declined to comment. Lauren Sanchez did not respond to the newspaper’s requests for comment through an employee at her company and an Amazon spokesman. The Daily Beast first reported that Sanchez provided the Enquirer with the texts and that Bezos launched his own investigation into who leaked the messages to the tabloid.



Bezos Investigation Finds the Saudis Obtained His Private Data
Daily Beast

URL: https://www.thedailybeast.com/jeff-bezo ... nformation
Category: Politics
Published: March 30, 2019

Description: The National Enquirer’s lawyer tried to get me to say there was no hacking.

trump-saudi-sword-dance.jpg

For 40 years, I’ve advised at-risk public figures and government agencies on high-stakes security matters. My career has included working with the CIA, FBI, at the Reagan White House, counseling foreign leaders, and advising on controversial murder cases. I’ve seen a lot. And yet, I’ve recently seen things that have surprised even me, such as the National Enquirer’s parent company, AMI, being in league with a foreign nation that’s been actively trying to harm American citizens and companies, including the owner of the Washington Post. You know him as Jeff Bezos; I know him as my client of 22 years. To understand where this story goes, some background is needed. In January, the National Enquirer published a special edition that revealed an intimate relationship Bezos was having. He asked me to learn who provided his private texts to the Enquirer, and why. My office quickly identified the person whom the Enquirer had paid as a source: a man named Michael Sanchez, the now-estranged brother of Lauren Sanchez, whom Bezos was dating. What was unusual, very unusual, was how hard AMI people worked to publicly reveal their source’s identity. First through strong hints they gave to me, and later through direct statements, AMI practically pinned a “kick me” sign on Michael Sanchez. “It was not the White House, it was not Saudi Arabia,” a company lawyer said on national television, before telling us more: “It was a person that was known to both Bezos and Ms. Sanchez.” In case even more was needed, he added, “Any investigator that was going to investigate this knew who the source was,” a very helpful hint since the name of who was being investigated had been made public 10 days earlier in a Daily Beast report. Much was made about a recent front-page story in the Wall Street Journal, fingering Michael Sanchez as the Enquirer’s source—but that information was first published almost seven weeks ago by The Daily Beast, after “multiple sources inside AMI” told The Daily Beast the exact same thing. The actual news in the Journal article was that its reporters were able to confirm a claim Michael Sanchez had been making: It was the Enquirer who first contacted Michael Sanchez about the affair, not the other way around. AMI has repeatedly insisted they had only one source on their Bezos story, but the Journal reports that when the Enquirer began conversations with Michael Sanchez, they had “already been investigating whether Mr. Bezos and Ms. Sanchez were having an affair.” Michael Sanchez has since confirmed to Page Six that when the Enquirer contacted him back in July, they had already “seen text exchanges” between the couple. If accurate, the WSJ and Page Six stories would mean, clearly and obviously, that the initial information came from other channels—another source or method. [On Sunday, AMI issued a statement insisting that “it was Michael Sanchez who tipped the National Enquirer off to the affair on Sept. 10, 2018, and over the course of four months provided all of the materials for our investigation.” Read the full statement here. -- ed.] Reality is complicated, and can’t always be boiled down to a simple narrative like “the brother did it,” even when that brother is a person who certainly supplied some information to a supermarket tabloid, and even when that brother is an associate of Roger Stone and Carter Page. Though interesting, it turns out those truths are also too simple. Why did AMI’s people work so hard to identify a source, and insist to the New York Times and others that he was their sole source for everything? My best answer is contained in what happened next: AMI threatened to publish embarrassing photos of Jeff Bezos unless certain conditions were met. (These were photos that, for some reason, they had held back and not published in their first story on the Bezos affair, or any subsequent story.) While a brief summary of those terms has been made public before, others that I’m sharing are new—and they reveal a great deal about what was motivating AMI. An eight-page contract AMI sent for me and Bezos to sign would have required that I make a public statement, composed by them and then widely disseminated, saying that my investigation had concluded they hadn’t relied upon “any form of electronic eavesdropping or hacking in their news-gathering process.” Note here that I’d never publicly said anything about electronic eavesdropping or hacking—and they wanted to be sure I couldn’t. They also wanted me to say our investigation had concluded that their Bezos story was not “instigated, dictated or influenced in any manner by external forces, political or otherwise.” External forces? Such a strange phrase. AMI knew these statements did not reflect my conclusions, because I told AMI’s Chief Content Officer Dylan Howard (in a 90-minute recorded phone call) that what they were asking me to say about external forces and hacking “is not my truth,” and would be “just echoing what you are looking for.” (Indeed, an earlier set of their proposed terms included AMI making a statement “affirming that it undertook no electronic eavesdropping in connection with its reporting and has no knowledge of such conduct”—but now they wanted me to say that for them.) The contract further held that if Bezos or I were ever in our lives to “state, suggest or allude to” anything contrary to what AMI wanted said about electronic eavesdropping and hacking, then they could publish the embarrassing photos. I’m writing this today because it’s exactly what the Enquirer scheme was intended to prevent me from doing. Their contract also contained terms that would have inhibited both me and Bezos from initiating a report to law enforcement. Things didn’t work out as they hoped. When the terms for avoiding publication of personal photos were presented to Jeff Bezos, he responded immediately: “No thank you.” Within hours, he wrote an essay describing his reasons for rejecting AMI’s threatening proposal. Then he posted it all on Medium, including AMI’s actual emails and their salacious descriptions of private photos. (After the Medium post, AMI put out a limp statement saying it “believed fervently that it acted lawfully in the reporting of the story of Mr. Bezos.”) The issues Bezos raised in his Medium post have nothing whatsoever to do with Michael Sanchez, any more than revealing the name of a low-level Watergate burglar sheds light on the architects of the Watergate cover-up. Bezos was not expressing concerns about the Enquirer’s original story; he was focused on what he called “extortion and blackmail.” Next, Bezos directed me to “spend whatever is needed” to learn who may have been complicit in the scheme, and why they did it. That investigation is now complete. As has been reported elsewhere, my results have been turned over to federal officials. Since it is now out of my hands, I intend today’s writing to be my last public statement on the matter. Further, to respect officials pursuing this case, I won’t disclose details from our investigation. I am, however, comfortable confirming one key fact: Our investigators and several experts concluded with high confidence that the Saudis had access to Bezos’ phone, and gained private information. As of today, it is unclear to what degree, if any, AMI was aware of the details. We did not reach our conclusions lightly. The inquiry included a broad array of resources: investigative interviews with current and former AMI executives and sources, extensive discussions with top Middle East experts in the intelligence community, leading cybersecurity experts who have tracked Saudi spyware, discussions with current and former advisers to President Trump, Saudi whistleblowers, people who personally know the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (also known as MBS), people who work with his close associate Saud al-Qahtani, Saudi dissidents, and other targets of Saudi action, including writer/activist Iyad el-Baghdadi. Experts with whom we consulted confirmed New York Times reports on the Saudi capability to “collect vast amounts of previously inaccessible data from smartphones in the air without leaving a trace—including phone calls, texts, emails”—and confirmed that hacking was a key part of the Saudis’ “extensive surveillance efforts that ultimately led to the killing of [Washington Post] journalist Jamal Khashoggi.” Some Americans will be surprised to learn that the Saudi government has been intent on harming Jeff Bezos since last October, when the Post began its relentless coverage of Khashoggi’s murder. The Saudi campaign against Bezos has already been reported by CNN International, Bloomberg, The Daily Beast, and others. Saudi Arabia attacks people in many ways, obviously, including through their elaborate social media program that uses sophisticated technology and paid surrogates to create artificially trending hashtags. To give you an idea of how this program has infected the U.S., the New York Times reported that the Saudis even had an operative inside Twitter, which fired the suspect employee, and later advised select activists and others that “your Twitter account is one of a small group of accounts that may have been targeted by state-sponsored actors.” In October, the Saudi government unleashed its cyberarmy on Bezos (and later me). Their multi-pronged campaign included public calls for boycotts against Amazon.com and its Saudi subsidiary, Souq.com. Just three examples among thousands:
“We as Saudis will never accept to be attacked by the Washington Post in the morning, only to buy products from Amazon and Souq.com by night! Strange that all three companies are owned by the same Jew who attacks us by day, and sells us products by night!”
“Our weapon is to boycott… because the owner of the newspaper is the same as their owner.”
“We're after you - the Jew, worshipper of money, will go bankrupt by the will of God at the hands of Saudi Arabia... the owner of Amazon and Souq is the owner of the Washington Post is the spiteful Jew who insults us every day.”
`
Bezos is not Jewish, but you get the point. We studied the well-documented and close relationship between MBS and AMI chairman, David Pecker. That alliance includes David Pecker bringing MBS intermediary Kacy Grine to a private White House meeting with President Trump and Jared Kushner. Pecker has also traveled to Saudi Arabia to meet with the Crown Prince. Though we don’t know what was discussed in those private meetings, AMI’s actions afterwards are telling. To coincide with MBS’ March 2018 U.S. tour, AMI created a 100-page, ad-free, glossy magazine called The New Kingdom. Since MBS wasn’t yet a notorious figure in the West (this was before the murder of Jamal Khashoggi), AMI’s magazine introduced him to Americans as “the most influential Arab leader—transforming the world at 32,” and “improving lives of his people & hopes for peace.” The Associated Press reported that AMI sent an advance digital copy of their laudatory magazine to the Saudi Embassy three weeks before printing and distributing 200,000 issues. (Despite AP’s substantial forensic evidence, the kingdom denied it received the magazine’s content in advance. While we’re on denials, the kingdom says Saudi Arabia had nothing to do with the Bezos matter. The kingdom also says MBS had nothing whatsoever to do with the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.) When AMI publicly insisted that nobody outside of their executives and editors “had any influence on this publication or its content,” I guess they meant other than Kacy Grine, the very same MBS intermediary Pecker had brought to The White House. I say that because AMI soon had to disclose to the Department of Justice National Security Division that their mystery magazine included content written by Grine, and that they also gave him the whole working draft for advance review, and that he suggested changes, and that they implemented his changes, and that he provided better photographs of MBS. With friends like AMI, you don’t need… publicists. My firm has done many investigations into Enquirer misconduct, including one that became the subject of a 60 Minutes investigative piece way back in 1990. Before then, tabloids had been seen as almost funny publications, mixing celebrity gossip with space aliens and Elvis sightings. But when the Enquirer’s on-again-off-again relationship with the truth percolated into politics, it wasn’t so funny anymore. Though relatively benign at first (“Al Gore’s Diet Is Making Him Stupid”), the Trump/Pecker relationship has metastasized: In effect, the Enquirer became an enforcement arm of the Trump presidential campaign, and presidency, as the U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York laid out in its case against Michael Cohen, who has pleaded guilty. The U.S. Attorney has done the country a service by levying extensive controls on AMI, David Pecker, and his deputy Dylan Howard, through a non-prosecution agreement that requires them to commit no other crimes for three years, and requires everyone at AMI to attend annual training on federal election laws. I’m guessing that’s not how they used to spend their time. I would be wrong to imply that the Enquirer hasn’t evolved since the ’90s, because it has. The tabloid and its chairman have evolved into secretly entangling with a nation-state that’s using its enormous resources to harm American citizens and companies. And now they’ve evolved into trying to strong-arm an American citizen whom that country’s leadership wanted harmed, compromised, and silenced. As for the Saudi side of the equation: Not only does the kingdom have a close alliance with AMI—which owns the Enquirer, Us Weekly, the Star, Globe, Radar Online, and many other publications—but the Saudis have pursued investments and partnerships involving Rolling Stone, Variety, Deadline, the Robb Report, and National Geographic, among others. Unlike these publications, it’s clear that MBS considers the Washington Post to be a major enemy. Saudi Arabia is hardly the first repressive regime that seeks total control of the news media in its own country. Wanting to control the media in the United States—and using any means to do so—will hopefully prove to be an overreach.
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Jeff Bezos to keep 75% of Amazon shares in divorce

Postby smix » Thu Apr 04, 2019 6:16 pm

Jeff Bezos to keep 75% of Amazon shares in divorce
Yahoo Finance

URL: https://finance.yahoo.com/news/bezos-di ... 12985.html
Category: Business
Published: April 4, 2019

Description: Jeff Bezos’ soon-to-be ex-wife, MacKenzie, announced that she will give him 75% of her Amazon stock as part of their divorce agreement. “Grateful to have finished the process of dissolving my marriage with Jeff with support from each other and everyone who reach out to us in kindness,” MacKenzie Bezos stated. “Happy to be giving him all of my interests in the Washington Post and Blue Origin, and 75% of our Amazon stock plus voting control of my shares to support his continued contributions with the teams of these incredible companies.” According to a new SEC filing, Bezos informed Amazon on April 4 that “shares representing approximately 4.0 percent of the Company’s outstanding common stock will be registered in MacKenzie T. Bezos’ name as separate property.” The filing notes that “the divorce decree is expected to be issued in approximately 90 days.” Bezos is the world’s richest person and will remain so, while MacKenzie will become one of the world’s richest women. Bezos will have “sole voting authority over the shares” with exceptions to those that Mackenzie sells in the open market or contributes to an organization that falls under a certain section of the Internal Revenue Code, according to the filing. The couple announced their divorce in January 2019 after 25 years of marriage. One month later, Bezos alleged that the National Enquirer tried to blackmail him using intimate photos of him to his mistress, Lauren Sanchez, who was revealed to have been having an affair with the Amazon CEO. The two got married in 1993 and have four children. Amazon.com officially debuted in 1995 — founded in Bezos’s Bellevue, Wash., garage — as a bookseller. Within two months, sales reached $20,000, and in May 1997, the company went public at $18 a share. Amazon (AMZN) is down less than 1% in afternoon trading on Thursday.
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