A private eye working for one of Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch‘s companies spied on billionaire investor Robert Agostinelli — a West Palm Beach condo owner whose equity firm once owned WTVX-Channel 34.
Agostinelli’s also a close friend of former Governor Jeb Bush and ex-President George W. Bush!
According to reports published in England, the 59-year-old Agostinelli’s hotel bills in London’s swankiest hotel were obtained illegally by private investigator Steve Whittamore, who worked for Murdoch’s News of the World tabloid.
Whittamore’s arrest in connections with hundreds of similar cases eventually sparked an unprecedented investigation into the tactics in Murdoch’s publishing empire. So far, the probe has caused the shutting down of News of the World and arrests of dozens of reporters and editors.
What’s more, the records from the $600-a-night Claridge’s Hotel are the first clues showing that the spying, which included wiretaps and cell-phone hacking, may not have been confined to just British citizens but that Americans, too, were targets of Murdoch’s henchmen.
Agostinelli’s address in New York was also in the paperwork seized from Whittamore by Scotland Yard.
So far, billionaire Murdoch has escaped here the kind of scrutiny in the United States that’s unraveling his empire abroad. An FBI investigation turned no evidence that Murdoch’s British reporters targeted U.S. citizens here.
The media-shy Agostinelli, who runs the Rhone Group private equity firm after a stint at Goldman Sachs, didn’t respond to email seeking comment. According to Forbes, he became a billionaire in March. The owner of an apartment at the 610 Clematis condo building, Agostinelli is a player in international finance and a friend of ex-French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
He’s been a supporter of the Bush family’s political aspirations, something that actually brought Jeb Bush to discuss privately with Agostinelli two years ago a run by the latter for governor of Florida! Agostinellli never declared his candidacy.