L.A Department Of Water And Power Was Under Investigation By The FBI, Including Cybersecurity Issue

The FBI investigated the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) due to newly reviewed portions of the warrant served at DWP during the raid last month, which indicates a broader federal probe than was previously known. Last month, the FBI raided the department to find the documents related to the incident on the department’s newly introduced billing system. Regarding the needed documents, the FBI demanded essential information concerning the cybersecurity and physical security issues at the department from June 2008, according to the Los Angeles Times. Also, the FBI requested for other information, including the department’s compliance with industry-standard security, any manipulation over compliance history records, recent international travel by the department’s officials, and any contractual associations between the sector and other corporate entities, domestic and foreign.

Israel Electric Corporation, which is the largest supplier of electrical power in Israel, was also among the listed attendees at a DWP event in Israel, according to the travel expense obtained by Times through a public records request. According to the Israel Electric Spokesperson, Iris Ben-Shahal, the company was not fully aware of the situation regarding the FBI investigation; however, it would continue to subscribe to “developments and their relevance to the parties’ relation, if there [are] any”. Another one of the listed attendees is suspected to be Israel-based Cybersecurity company, Cybergym, which, based on its website, operates arena-like facilities in which the companies are trained to counter cyberattacks from outsiders. However, it has not been established that the company mentioned in the warrant was the company listed as attending the DWP event.

According to the ABC7 Eyewitness News, the L.A City Attorney’s Office stated that the search warrant served on its employees relates to the process of taking legal action regarding the issue of the new billing system that was introduced by the Department of Water and Power. The Office released a statement: “The FBI served search warrants for documents on several City employees at both CHE and DWP offices, including some of our staff members. The warrants served on our staff relate to issues that have arisen over the class action litigation and settlement surrounding the DWP billing system, and the City’s lawsuit against PwC. We have and will continue to cooperate fully with the expectation that the investigation will be completed expeditiously.” An FBI specialist who spoke to the ABC Eyewitness News reporters stated that this search warrant is complex, and could be a public corruption investigation. From his own statement, “it’s going to require a lot of approvals within the FBI here in Los Angeles and also back in Washington, D.C. at headquarters, but if you have the information, if you have the probable cause, if you have verifiable and substantial documentary information that shows that you need to go into certain offices at City Hall or some of these other locations, then yes, you can get the search warrant. A judge will approve it if the information is there.”

Los Angeles’s Mayor Eric Garcetti released a statement to the public:

“We were notified earlier this morning that federal search warrants were being executed today. The Mayor believes that any criminal wrongdoing should be investigated and prosecuted. His expectation is that any City employee asked to cooperate will do so fully and immediately.”

Sophanith Song