Alinghi accuses Oracle of spying

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Swiss yachting team Alinghi accuses US rival Oracle in court of hiring spies.

MADRID – An unexpected development in the legal battle over the next America's Cup occurred Tuesday when defender Alinghi accused US rival Oracle of hiring spies to get information on its boat under construction in Switzerland.

In papers filed at a New York court, Alinghi said Swiss authorities in April detained a man who "admitted he was one of a team of spies hired by (Oracle) to illegally break into facilities and take photographs and secure information" about its boat.

It said the man, Jean Antoine Bonnaveau, a French citizen, was hired by Oracle in December 2007 to spy on its competitors for a salary of EUR 10,000 (CHF 15, 000) a month.

The allegation was made in papers responding to Oracle’s request that the next America's Cup take place in early February 2010.

Alinghi, in contrast, wants the next America's Cup to be held three months later in May 2010. It described Oracle's motion as a "cheap publicity stunt."

The New York State Supreme Court is to hear the case on Thursday.

In response to Alinghi's spying allegations, Oracle said the Swiss team is "making trumped-up allegations that have nothing to do with the matter at hand."

"Legal observation of competitors is common practice in the America’s Cup and other major sporting events," it said in a statement.

It said Alinghi 'spies' were photographed several times by Oracle near its base and on the water in both Anacortes, Washington and in San Diego, California.

The two sides have been in a legal battle over the rules of the next America's Cup since Alinghi won the 32 edition of yachting's premier event in the Spanish port of Valencia in July 2007.

The New York court in early April backed Oracle over Alinghi in the conclusion to their legal battle over the rules for the next edition of the America's Cup.

The ruling means that the two teams must hold a best-of-three competition involving multihull yachts, unless they manage to overcome their dispute.

Oracle, owned by American software tycoon Larry Ellison, has been training for competition since October on a trimaran built in the United States while Alinghi, owned by Swiss pharmaceuticals billionaire Ernesto Bertarelli, began a training programme late April.

AFP / Expatica

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