The author of a dossier claiming allegations about President-elect Donald Trump’s activities and connections in Russia has been identified as former British Intelligence officer Christopher Steele, several news outlets reported Wednesday.
Steele, a director of London-based Orbis Business Intelligence Ltd., prepared the document which alleges that the Kremlin colluded with Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign and claims that Russian officials have compromising evidence of Mr. Trump’s behavior that could be used to blackmail him, people familiar with the matter say, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Trump has dismissed the dossier’s contents as false and Russia has denied the claims.
Mr. Steele, 52 years old, is one of two directors of the firm, along with Christopher Burrows, 58. Mr. Burrows, reached at his home outside London on Wednesday, said he wouldn’t “confirm or deny” that Orbis had produced the report.
Orbis Business Intelligence was formed in 2009 by former British intelligence professionals, it says on its website. The firm relies on a “global network” of experts and business leaders to provide clients with strategic advice, mount “intelligence-gathering operations” and conduct “complex, often cross-border investigations,” according to its website.
The dossier consists of a series of memos that appear to have been written between June and December 2016. Beyond creating the document, Mr. Steele also devised a plan to get the information to law-enforcement officials in the U.S. and Europe, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, according to a person familiar with the matter.
“We have no political ax to grind,” Mr. Burrows said, speaking about corporate-intelligence work in general terms. He said when clients asked a firm like Orbis to investigate something, you “see what’s out there” first and later “stress test” your findings against other evidence.
No presidential campaigns or super PACs reported payments to Orbis in their required Federal Election Commission filings. But several super PACs over the course of the campaign reported that they paid limited liability companies, whose ultimate owners may be difficult or impossible to discern.
The dossier’s emergence—it was published online and widely circulated Tuesday—has generated a firestorm less than 10 days before Mr. Trump’s inauguration. U.S. officials have examined the allegations but haven’t confirmed any of them yet.
“It’s all fake news,” Mr. Trump said in a news conference Wednesday. “It’s all phony stuff. It didn’t happen.”
The dossier contains lurid allegations. The dossier’s claim that an attorney for Mr. Trump went to the Czech Republic to meet Kremlin officials, U.S. officials said. The attorney has also denied the claim. FBI offered no comment on the document.
According to WJS, the author of the report has a good reputation in the intelligence world and was stationed in Russia for years. That assertion is corroborated by John Sipher, who retired in 2014 after 28 years in the CIA’s clandestine service, where he specialized in Russia and counterintelligence. Mr. Sipher is now director of client services at CrossLead Inc., a Washington-based technology company set up by retired U.S. Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal.