Deloitte hires Europol chief to help lead booming cyber business

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(Bloomberg) -- Europol Executive Director Rob Wainwright is leaving the EU intelligence agency he’s led for almost a decade to help run Deloitte LLP’s cybersecurity practice, as companies wake up to the growing “systemic” threat of cyber crime.

The 50-year-old MI5 veteran will join the Amsterdam-based unit in June, according to Deloitte, which shared an advanced copy of its announcement. Deloitte is planning to add 500 people to its European cyber practice to meet growing demand from corporate clients anxious to prevent hacks.

“I spent a lot of the last few years encouraging private-sector leaders to take cybersecurity more seriously, to invest more," Wainwright said in an interview at Europol’s headquarters in The Hague on Tuesday. "So now I will go directly in there and try to help them do it myself.”

Wainwright has spent 28 years working for the U.K. government, including more than a decade at the MI5 domestic intelligence service, where he specialized in counter-terrorism and organized crime. After stints as head of the U.K. liaison bureau for Europol and running the international department of what is now called the National Crime Agency, he returned to Europol as director in 2009.

During his time at Europol, which acts as an intermediary for 1,000 global law enforcement bodies and coordinates major investigations involving terrorism and money laundering, Wainwright helped oversee a number of high-profile stings. He played a key role in last year’s takedown of AlphaBay and Hansa, dark-web markets that sold everything from drugs to hacking tools. AlphaBay was more than 10 times the size of Silk Road, which the U.S. closed in 2013.

More companies are waking up to the “systemic” threat of cybercrime, Deloitte U.K. Chief Executive Officer David Sproul said. Hiring Wainwright adds “a further stamp of authenticity and seriousness to what we’re doing,” he said.

It’s a propitious time for Wainwright to join the private sector. European spending on computer security is forecast to rise 25 percent to $35.5 billion over the next three years, according to Gartner Inc., a U.S. advisory firm.

His departure from Europol comes at a critical moment for the U.K., which is preparing to leave the 28-member European Union. He will most likely be the last Briton ever to lead the agency, which will be taken over by Belgian Federal Police Commissioner General Catherine De Bolle in May.

Prime Minister Theresa May has pledged to unconditionally continue security and defense cooperation with the EU after Brexit and proposed a new treaty to continue the data sharing and other forms of collaboration Europol oversees. The EU is keen to maintain its security relationship with Britain, which is currently the biggest defense spender in the bloc.

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