Alleged Creep Claims He Used Steaks and Ponies to Spy on North Korea
Court documents and emails reveal a stranger-than-fiction espionage story that just might be true.
Warning: This article contains graphic descriptions of sexual harassment.
Eve Khatskevich’s sexual harassment suit against her former boss was normal—vile, vomit-inducing, but normal—in all ways but one.
Like all too many women, Khatskevich alleged that her boss subjected her to repeated, unwanted, and explicit sexual advances. In a complaint filed in 2014, she said that Adam Victor, the owner of TransGas Development Systems, would purposely strut around naked “grotesquely displaying his genitals to her” and muse openly about performing oral sex on her, complete with a “pantomime of him performing” the act over the course of her employment as an administrative assistant.
But Khatskevich’s lawsuit is unlike any other in that it featured two uncommon parties to sexual harassment allegations: North Korea and the U.S. intelligence community.
In the course of working for Victor and suffering his alleged advances, Khatskevich noted that her boss had a strange habit of taking diplomats from North Korea’s United Nations Mission in New York out to parties where she was expected to accompany them for “lavish” buffets at the Meadowlands racetrack and at the Palm steakhouse in Manhattan.
What happened afterwards was even stranger. Two men who she understood worked for either the FBI or CIA showed up after the events in order to debrief her “on her impressions regarding the North Koreans” she had just dined with. According to Khatskevich, Victor leveraged his apparent association with the spy agencies to intimidate her.
From there, Khatskevich’s otherwise unremarkable lawsuit took a bizarre turn. The New York Post published a brief story about the lawsuit. The allegations garnered little follow-up reporting but they prompted more detailed claims by Victor in court about what he says was a career spent in the global energy business helping the CIA and FBI collect secrets on North Korea, Saudi Arabia, and apartheid-era South Africa.
In court, Victor has denied the sexual harassment allegations against him. Victor did not respond to requests for comment. His attorney declined an opportunity to comment when reached.
In an affidavit filed in 2015, Victor claimed to have courted diplomats at North Korea’s U.N. Mission in New York at the behest of the FBI, gifted the North Korean mission a bugged Xerox machine, and delivered a metallurgical sample he received from a 2013 trip to North Korea to a staffer at the Senate intelligence committee.
Victor’s affidavit, first obtained by The Daily Beast in 2018, sought to seal—hide from public view—parts of Khatskevich’s complaint discussing his alleged relationship with U.S. intelligence. In the affidavit, Victor wrote that he understood that “the Court expressed skepticism that I was and am a CIA and FBI asset.”
In a statement, an FBI spokesperson said the Bureau would decline to comment on Victor’s allegations of a career as an intelligence source “in keeping with our standard practice of not discussing sources or methods.”
But there are signs that at least parts of the claims may be true.
Victor’s request to seal the affidavit was granted, as Victor’s attorneys noted in a November filing in a separate defamation lawsuit filed against him.
And in a March filing in his sexual harassment suit, Victor’s attorneys told the court that they had approached the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan and the FBI for guidance on whether their client could answer questions about his alleged spy work in the course of a deposition. “John Clarkson, Esq, an attorney from the FBI, advised us that Mr. Victor is subject to an NDA governing the disclosure of such information,” Victor’s attorney wrote.
Emails between Victor and North Korean diplomats, obtained by The Daily Beast in 2018, back up his assertions of a relationship with Pyongyang’s representatives at the U.N. and show how he courted the officials with gifts, meals, and the promise of a coal gasification project in the country.
North Korean officials wrote Victor to thank him for various gifts—a Victoria’s Secret gift card, cash—while the officials pressed him for more, according to the emails. They could be particular, too. Envoys would ask for DVDs of "best seller recent films (in sealed status)” and books on “state of the art software for network firewall and pc safety management of the Internet,” the “technology of frequency hopping,” and "encryption of Mobile telecom," among other subjects.
One North Korean diplomat, slated to return to Pyongyang, emailed Victor to ask "if my Brother Adam might offer me a HDD camcorder(preferably Sony with CCD zoom-Sony) and Ipod Video 80GB(+docking system) and wide TFT screen laptop” to be given "as a token of infinite brotherhood."
There were also visits to the Meadowlands racetrack in New Jersey, where Victor owned horses, where he would host up to 13 North Korean diplomats, their wives, and children to take in a buffet and a trotter race.
The apparent point of all the wining, dining, and gifts was to aid Victor in what he claimed was an FBI-encouraged effort to collect information on North Korea’s UN Mission.
In his affidavit, Victor described North Korean diplomats as “fascinated” by his horses and claimed that he “bet for them and ensure[d] that they ‘won.’” The bets, he wrote, were “the way the FBI got me to pass them money, usually less than $100 which was 2 and a half months salary for them).”
After a North Korean diplomatic contact lamented that the country’s U.N. office didn’t have a Xerox machine, Victor says he provided one free of charge but with an unstated catch. “I was told by my government handlers that they modified the Xerox machine to transmit copies of everything it copied to United States intelligence,” he wrote in the affidavit.
He also claimed to have traveled to North Korea in 2013 to obtain a metallurgical sample while pretending to be interested in helping the country build a coal gasification plant. According to Khatskevich’s original complaint, the metal sample would allegedly help American spies determine "where the North Koreans were obtaining this particular metal” and potentially shed light on North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, where the unnamed metal allegedly had applications.
Emails obtained by The Daily Beast show Victor discussing the gasification plant idea with North Korean diplomats as well as his attempts to “get a welding sample from your welders.” In his affidavit, Victor claimed to have delivered the sample “to a staff member on the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence for analysis and scrutiny, presumably by the FBI and CIA.”
It’s unclear why Victor would turn the sample over to the Senate intelligence committee, which oversees the intelligence community and does not conduct intelligence operations. Nor is it clear how he came to be in contact with committee staff.
A spokesperson for the Senate intelligence committee declined to comment on Victor’s specific allegations but noted that the intelligence committee is not an operational element of the intelligence community and that “in hypothetical cases where someone offers the committee foreign information or material that would be of interest to the [intelligence community], we would direct them to the appropriate agency.”
Victor dabbled in politics as a supporter of both Democrats and Republicans and donated to the campaigns of a handful of current and former senators including Chuck Schumer, Mitch McConnell, Joe Lieberman, Richard Shelby, Ted Kennedy, as well as the presidential campaigns of John Kerry and Mitt Romney.
Victor was also a supporter of and donor to West Virginia Democratic senator Joe Manchin dating back to Manchin’s days as governor, when Victor’s company, TransGas Development Systems, invested in a coal-to-gasoline project in the state.
In 2018, Victor pleaded guilty to making illegal campaign contributions totalling “$17,500 in aggregated contributions through numerous immediate family members and colleagues,” according to the Justice Department, and was sentenced to a year of probation. The recipients of the straw donations—a 2011 presidential candidate and West Virginia senator—weren’t identified in Victor’s criminal case, but a legal complaint filed against him at the Federal Election Commission concluded that Victor reimbursed associates for donations to the campaigns of former 2012 Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain and Manchin.
“In Governor Manchin, we saw a leader who had the strengths and convictions that prompted us to make the considerable investment in West Virginia that TransGas has made,” Victor praised Manchin in a 2010 press release.
According to the affidavit, Victor claims his relationship with U.S. intelligence first began in 1974 after the Kiryat Shmona massacre, when Palestinian terrorists murdered 18 Israelis, including children, in a terrorist attack. Victor, outraged by the attack, claimed that he approached the CIA during a recruiting event at Cornell University and informed them that he had obtained a job working for ARAMCO in Saudi Arabia.
Once he arrived in Saudi Arabia, Victor claimed that he was contacted by a CIA handler. Victor provided the handler with information about Saudi Arabia’s “technical and logistical capabilities” gleaned from his work in Aramco’s development unit.
After he returned from Saudi Arabia and earned an MBA, Victor claimed that he continued working for U.S. intelligence during a stint at the Anglo American Company, a gold-mining firm. At the time, the apartheid-era South African government was using residual uranium found in gold mines to fuel its nascent nuclear weapons program and Victor alleged that he passed the Agency information about the percentage of uranium found in gold slurries mined by Anglo American.
Once Victor started his own energy company, he claimed that his relationship with the CIA broadened to include providing cover for intelligence officers. The Agency, Victor wrote, would “provide business cards with my company name if someone called asking for certain people, I would confirm that such person worked for my company.”
In her lawsuit, Khatskevich claimed that the longer she worked for him, the more Victor talked up his apparent connections to intelligence agencies and his political influence, alongside boasts of being a skilled martial artist, having access to weapons, and allegedly having killed an Arab man in Saudi Arabia who “made unwanted sexual advances toward him.” The talk, she claimed, constituted “implied threats that he could, and would, take physical action against her if she strayed from the lecherous and deviant path that he envisioned for her.”
Khatskevich did not respond to questions and a request from The Daily Beast for comment. But she does not appear to have been cowed by the alleged threats. Her lawsuit, against Victor, first filed in 2014, remains ongoing.