Thursday, January 29, 2015

Bob English Responds to the Suggestion That He May Be A Russian Spy

The Daily Beast hints in a story that Bob English, occasional EPJ and ZeroHedge contributor, and former RT producer, was involved, while in his duties at RT, as a spy for the Russian government. This is his response:

For the record, I, Bob English, am not a spy for the Russian government (or any other).

Monday, Federal prosecutors levied criminal charges against Evgeny Buryakov, one of three Russians alleged to have engaged in espionage against the US.  Several media outlets reported the story, but Shane Harris and M.L. Nestel at The Daily Beast jumped through hoops in a vain attempt to link me and my former employer, RTTV America, to the conspiracy. 

The Daily Beast wrote (emphasis mine):

[T]he trio seemed to have been in contact with higher ups back in Russia. At one point, they were contacted by their chain of command for a last-minute assignment by a “Russian state-owned news organization” to prepare questions for one of their journalists to submit to New York Stock Exchange personnel during an interview.

The alleged spies were given only 15 minutes to come up with questions that could cull valuable information about the intricacies of financial trades. In a sloppy break with their standard operational security, Sporyshev called Buryakov and asked him for advice. Buryakov managed to float two self-serving questions, including whether the NYSE is going to be “limiting the use of trading robots.”

The criminal complaint doesn’t name the news organization. But the state-owned channel RT hosts a number [two, to be exact] of business news programs, several of which reported on the New York Stock Exchange around the time of the conversation recorded in the complaint, in May 2013One month after the phone call between Buryakov and Sporyshev, for example, Prime Interest host Bob English interviewed trader Ben Willis from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, and the two talked about high frequency trading and robot traders. In the interview, English asks, “Do you think there is still a role for humans to capture back what was lost a few years ago with electronic trading?” While the interview shouldn’t be tied to Buryakov, the line of questioning isn’t so far off from the ones suggested to Sporyshev in May.

A spokesperson for RT told BuzzFeed that it was not the outfit in question.

If the Daily Beast relies upon a quote from BuzzFeed regarding RT’s complicity, that’s fine.  But, upon introducing additional information and indirectly fingering me personally, they owed a journalistic duty to contact me or RT directly.  Unfortunately, the writers did not do this.  Despite the weasel phrase, “While the interview shouldn’t be tied to Buryakov, the line of questioning isn’t so far off…,” The Daily Beast saw fit to connect two dots, the nexus of which is pure fiction.

Innuendo is the tribute yellow journalism pays to actual journalism.

Feel free to watch the interview (beginning 14:40 here) and judge for yourself whether any trading secrets or state secrets were revealed.  Even layman readers would understand this was a relatively light interview that was more a human interest story regarding market action and brokers, as opposed to a hard hitting investigative story.

For the record:

* My interview with Ben Willis on the floor of the NYSE was booked on June 11, 2013.

* The Q&A interaction between the alleged Russian spies took place during the month of May.

* I formulated all questions to NYSE’s Mr. Willis the same day of the interview and received exactly zero input on the questions from any other person or source.

* Inasmuch as I have been programming trading algorithms (not HFT) since 2005, this was a natural line of questioning, given my background.

The next time Shane Harris and M.L. Nestel decide to indirectly tie me to a Russian spy ring under the flimsiest of pretenses, feel free to reach out to me:


  1. The Daily Beast is stretching.
    It's TASS not RT that's been linked..

  2. Man, this is too bad. I was hoping English could tell us what it's like to to hang around Anna Chapman and if he scored with her or not.

    Major disappointment.

  3. Hmm... Is this going to be the new technique the Left uses to take out anyone who questions the narrative? Surreptitiously finger them as possible Russian spies? This is an ironic change: the Russians being called out by the communists in the US. "Are you or have you ever not been a member of the Communist Party?"