What is the connection between Adolf Hitler and Magnus Peterson who was jailed for fraud for 13 years? The disgraced millionaire, who ran and wrecked the Weavering Capital Hedge Fund, cheated investors out of millions of dollars. Over $2 million from the fund was used by Peterson to produce a bizarre film about Adolf Hitler. Peterson may be in jail, but his Nazi movie ‘GREY WOLF’, is still cashing in on Weavering hedge fund investors’ losses.
An Investigative journalist reveals the Hitler film scandal hidden behind the financial scandal.
By Laurence de Mello
A major disaster has struck the controversial film ‘Grey Wolf- the escape of Adolf Hitler’. In January 2015 its executive producer, the millionaire financier Magnus Peterson, was jailed for 13 years for fraud.
Following a three-month trial in London, Magnus Peterson was found guilty on eight counts of fraud, forgery, false accounting and fake trade. His hedge fund, Weavering Capital, collapsed, costing investors an estimated US$537 million. The judge handed down one of the toughest sentences of recent times for a white collar crime and Peterson is now locked up in jail.
It’s the latest blow to hit the Nazi movie which claims Adolf Hitler survived World War II and fled to Argentina, where he lived with Eva Braun. The movie – a weird documentary drama costing at least US$2 million and involving 67 actors and a large production staff – was shot on location in Argentina. It has been entangled in legal, financial and editorial troubles for years. But a new wave of scandal threatens – allegations of deliberate plagiarism, non-payment of bills, libel, production budget fraud and scandalous behaviour behind the scenes.
Curiously, the Nazi film Magnus Peterson produced, never featured in his trial. Yet this movie scandal behind the huge financial scandal continues as Peterson’s ‘GREY WOLF‘ film is still cashing in.
The movie is based on a controversial book also called GREY WOLF – the escape of Adolf Hitler. Published in 2011, it was written by Gerrard Williams and Simon Dunstan. Critics kicked up a storm, but the book zoomed up the New York Times’ best-seller list. The film version was directed and co-produced in Argentina by one of the book’s author’s, former Sky News editor and close friend of Magnus Peterson, Gerrard Williams.
I was originally alerted to Magnus Peterson’s Hitler production in Buenos Aires in 2009. After relocating here in 2001, I had set about finding something to do after leaving the UK and my factual producer’s job at the bastion of British filmmaking, Pinewood Studios.
I knew all about the Nazis who had fled justice through ODESSA and found a safe haven in the open arms of Juan Peron’s Argentina. I also knew how the ’Ratlines’ that led to Argentina and facilitated by Vatican and Red Cross administrative channels, had figured in the successful escape of many high ranking Nazi war criminals. Such fugitives to Argentina included Dr Josef Mengele and one of the major organisers of the Holocaust, Adolf Eichmann. Eichmann was eventually snatched by the Israeli secret service (Mossad) from his quiet suburban Buenos Aires home in 1960, from under the nose of a pro Nazi Argentine government. Such events sparked my interest in investigating the Nazi escape organization ODESSA and the Nazi presence in South America post WWII.
Unknown to me I was embarking on a trail – beaten before by writers such as Freddie Forsyth and his The Odessa File, where I would meet crooks, conmen and journalistic fly-by-nights as exotic and deadly as anything found in a cheap and lurid gangster novel.
Five years into my investigation and while analysing various angles surrounding Martin Bormann’s possible escape; I met the Argentine journalist Abel Basti. An author of 8 books on the subject of Nazi fugitives in Argentina, he had carried out over 25 years of extensive research that looked as if it might support my ODESSA research and specifically, my main focus; whether Hitler’s Deputy and ’Handler’ Martin Bormann had actually arrived in Argentina and not perished in May 1945. By 2008, even though continuing to pursue new leads, I had enough new information to expand my findings into a TV series I was developing – Children of Odessa.
I first came across the name Magnus Peterson in 2009, at the time he was just a producers name on an unconscionable film contract, of which I was asked to review by the co-signatory, Abel Basti. It wasn’t until Peterson’s London Fraud trial in October 2014 and a tough conviction after a 5 year convoluted SFO investigation, that my initial suspicions of Peterson being a crook were officially confirmed.
Peterson’s trial gained priority coverage in the UK press and made worldwide financial headlines. But there was little if any coverage of the misuse of Weavering investor’s cash on the 2007 ‘Hitler’ project in Argentina. The original project entitled Lobo Gris (Grey Wolf) had been masterminded and managed by Peterson’s business partner, Gerrard Williams.
Gerrard Williams’ bio reads well – an international television journalist of 30 years, a duty editor at Reuters Television, a foreign duty editor at the BBC, Sky News, and APTN. The director of a touching 1983 documentary ‘Strength to Cry’ on the Sudan Famine that received, in his own words ‘’International critical acclaim and was broadcast in 30 countries’’. Williams is a man who parades his journalistic credentials like battle honours, yet his dubious activities surrounding the Grey Wolf film and what appears to be a dysfunctional moral compass, have excited more than a little disquiet in the Southern Hemisphere.
Abel Basti, journalist, author and newspaper editor, lives in San Carlos de Bariloche, a snow capped Andes mountain area in Southern Argentina that resembles a remote Bavarian village. Due to Edelweiss scenery and its remoteness from the rest of the world, Bariloche was and is the residence of choice for many German war criminals that used ‘Odessa’ to get out of Europe, as WWII Germany fell into the hands of the allies. Such is the pro-Nazi sentiment in Bariloche; until the late 1950’s the local German school Instituto Primo Capraro proudly flew a big swastika from its flagpole. It was in this picturesque German enclave that a former director of that school, WWII Gestapo officer Erich Priebke lived happily for years and was cited as a ‘wonderful neighbour’, till his 1997 extradition by the Italian courts for his participation in the 1944 German massacre of 335 Roman civilians.
In 2007 Gerrard Williams head-hunted Abel Basti and successfully entered into an exclusive film contract with the man that has clocked up more ‘on the ground’ Nazi research in South America than any other ‘Nazi hunter’ to date. The contract was drawn up by Gerbil Films Ltd – a London based Production Company, of which Weavering fraudster Magnus Peterson was, like Williams, a company director.
The contract gave Williams and Peterson access to Basti’s ‘connections’ and full use of his extensive archive and his previously published books. The archive included exclusive filmed testimonies from supposed first-hand witnesses, to help Williams with the documentary film Grey Wolf.
I became aware of Williams’ suspect business activities in 2009. After frequently crossing research paths with Abel Basti since 2006, Basti and I had become trusted friends and worked closely together on our investigations. Basti spent many weekends at my old farmhouse in the Buenos Aires outback, plotting trips to Paraguay and sharing unpublished information from elderly witnesses and classified Federal police files. The trust was such that we also discussed a complicated trip to Germany, where I hoped to get Martin Bormann’s eldest son Adolf to agree to a ‘chain of custody’ DNA profile test. I wanted to compare this with the DNA of a woman born in Brazil in 1952, who believes she could be the child of a leading official of WWII Nazi Germany.
It was during one of these weekends over a bottle of good Mendoza wine, that Basti confided his distrust of Gerrard Williams and Magnus Peterson and revealed Gerbil Films failure to pay him monies owed. Basti wanted out of the exclusive contract that had him completely tied up, but which had left him financially bereft for over a year. I offered to examine the Gerbil Films agreement and found various ongoing contractual breaches. The contract was written in English and a full Spanish version had never been made available to Basti, even though he could not speak English. I then aided Basti in formally terminating the contract with Williams and Peterson’s Gerbil Films.
As a result of this action, in 2009 Williams and Peterson lost all rights to use the extensive Basti archive material for their Grey Wolf film project and any spin-offs from such, which would include books. Williams accepted the ending of the contract due to the breaches I had highlighted to Abel and his attorney, who are both non English speakers. Williams responded in writing, stating that he and Peterson were late with monies owed as they had unfortunately been hit by ‘’the world economic crisis’’. Williams and Peterson made one last attempt to keep Basti and his archive material tied up with their production company Gerbil Films Ltd, by presenting Basti with yet another equally unconscionable agreement, which he graciously but firmly refused to sign.
Basti and I then agreed to pool our large research archive and information into the Children of Odessa series. By spring 2011, after 18 months of further investigations and filming extra material to add to what we already had, we could no longer afford to invest our own resources. We then co-partnered with a London production house KPC Media. They agreed to share production costs and pitch an exclusive Children of Odessa pre-sale for a 5 part series to a UK TV network.
All was proceeding well till October 2011, when Gerrard Williams ventured into the world of mainstream book publishing. He was given prime airtime on London’s Sky News to promote his book Grey Wolf. The widely publicised work was distributed by US Publishing giant Sterling/Barnes & Noble, and co-authored with reputed history writer of 50 books, Simon Dunstan. The book controversially argues that Hitler escaped from the Berlin bunker in 1945, having fled from Germany he lived out his life in Argentina with his wife and two daughters, dying in 1962.
When interviewed on Sky News Williams presented the tale of his ‘five-year research’ on the subject. Yet he failed to reveal that the main content of his Hitler escape book was plagiarised from the Argentine journalist Abel Basti. Nor was there any mention that it was financed by money from the Weavering Hedge Fund which later turned out to be stolen.
Only days earlier I flew to London for production and network meetings with our London production partners. But the evening before I was scheduled to fly to Germany to meet with Hitler’s godson, Martin Bormann junior, I received a worrying phone call from my London media agent. He informed me he had just seen an interview on Sky News, where Gerrard Williams had promoted a Grey Wolf book. During the live broadcast, Williams claimed that he and Simon Dunstan were the sole investigators and authors of the content. Williams had gone ahead and dishonestly taken Basti’s research archive to make it into a book, even though he was no longer contractually entitled to do so. My agent stated this book would certainly annul the exclusivity of our Odessa TV series content as pitched to the network. And within days, understandably, network interest ceased.
I delayed my trip to Germany to deal with the fallout, but the damage was done. There was nothing we could do to salvage over 18 months of production work. The Odessa series as presented was blown, and would require a completely new plan to resuscitate it. That would take months.
I have watched the Williams Sky interview on YouTube various times. I wanted to get a grip on this British mainstream media man who gained the confidence of honest people, then plagiarised their work and passed it off as his own. I noted how Williams squirmed when asked a question where he was unsure of the answer. As the research was not his, he was unfamiliar with the whole story. Apart from the plagiarised material, the Grey Wolf book is a patchwork – an amateurish attempt to deal with this controversial subject. If anything, he has damaged the entire essence of Basti’s compelling investigative Hitler work, due to Williams need to sensationalise genuine legitimate questions raised by bona fide findings, with his supposed certain answers. Disgruntled readers of the book rightly argued that Williams had failed to deliver as promised, and had crammed the work with irrelevant world war history in order to fill the pages. One critic claimed – ‘This book has more holes than the Titanic after striking the iceberg.’
Williams did, however, attempt to fill in some of those holes at a later date when he approached my former investigation assistant with an offer of US$20k to access my Martin Bormann files. The young Argentine journalist refused, as his morals are greater than his need for cash.
In spring 2012 Basti and I started collecting evidence to bring legal proceedings through my union, The British Association of Journalists. They agreed to take action against Williams and Barnes & Noble /Sterling for breach of privileged information and plagiarism. In addition, our lawyers claimed a minimum US$130k for our actual physical film production losses brought about by Williams’ theft of exclusive copyrighted materials and breach of confidential information.
It was during this time while investigating Williams’ movements here in Argentina and gathering evidence for our attorneys, that I discovered the Executive Producer Magnus Peterson for the original Grey Wolf film project and the Weavering hedge fund financial fraudster Magnus Peterson where one and the same. The estimated £2.5 million cash budget earmarked for the Grey Wolf production had in the main been drawn down in South America from the Hedge Fund, via Uruguayan banks and cash machines. This discovery immediately raised red flags, but especially as while investigating the Grey Wolf production, I also learned that none of the Argentine production staff and admin assistants, including translators, had been paid as agreed.
Only one member of the production team, a British cameraman, managed to get close to payment after taking Williams to court in the UK. The cameraman won his case and was awarded £20,000 of production salary owed. But Williams never turned up at the hearing and never paid. It cost the cameraman £50,000 in court and legal fees just to get a ruling in his favour and to date he has never received a penny. I suspect the cameraman who works for various UK news agencies decided to ‘walk away’ and not get a UK court to enforce the ruling, as he fears that fighting Williams in a public forum would have a detrimental effect on his work commissions due to Williams’ close editorial ties with Sky, BBC, Reuters, Al Jazeera, ESPN and other mainstream UK news and media outlets. It is for that reason I will respect his anonymity.
It seems the SFO paid little attention to Williams during the protracted London criminal trial. But the question does need to asked; Was the film’s multi-million dollar budget deliberately mismanaged by experienced media man Williams? The answer may be found in his hands-on running of the film project; the film lacked all minimal professional production requirements – no formal script or storyboard, no formal accounting, no cost reporting to the executive producer (Peterson), there was not even the vital presence of a professional production manager. In fact, one member of the crew described the day to day production as a ‘shambles’
So where was the $2million Grey Wolf production money spent? We know Argentine production crew and staff were not paid. Were the production accounts for this project managed by Gerrard Williams for Magnus Peterson ever made available to the Weavering investors? If so, it would be interesting to examine them.
After a 14-month analysis of the plagiarism from Basti’s 8 books and archive, The British Association of Journalists senior copyright attorney, prepared a case to file against Williams and the book’s publishers Barnes & Noble. The plagiarism and breach of moral rights was set out in a formal BAJ ‘shot-across-the-bows’ letter in May 2013 to Williams’ London Solicitors ‘Simons, Muirhead & Burton’ and Barnes & Noble corporate Attorneys in New York. Neither office has given a formal reply to date. The case has recently been lodged via London to the Argentine Courts on the advice of a leading British copyright and patents Judge. Lawyers are currently seeking an Argentine court judgement against Williams, which can then be enforced in The Intellectual Property Enterprise Court (IPEC) at The Royal Courts of Justice, London.
Williams is not only being cited for infringement of copyright and moral rights, failure to return master tapes and archive documents, damages, breach of confidential information, plus the failure to pay production staff, he is also being sued for libel. For in the preface of the Grey Wolf book, Williams and Dunstan have falsely cited the highly respected former editor of the Argentine financial newspaper ‘Ambito Financiero’ Ricardo De’ Aloia, as having ‘given’ them the materials used. Such materials which are owned in their entirety by Abel Basti include; taped witness interviews, photographs and documents used in both the Grey Wolf book and Williams’ recent Grey Wolf – The Escape of Adolf Hitler documentary drama.
Much of the Hitler in Argentina research archive accessed by Williams had been gathered while Abel Basti was a correspondent for the newspaper Ambito Financiero and had been held for safekeeping in the Newspaper’s film archive. Newspaper Editor Mr D’aloia was alerted to a seriously libellous Grey Wolf book preface in December 2011. He immediately responded with a letter to the B.A.J and to Barnes & Noble Vice President and Assistant General Counsel, Bradley A Feuer in New York, refuting the false statement;
‘I must make it emphatically clear as regards that material, that the company ‘Ambito Financiero’ never, either via me or any other authorized person, gave Mr Gerrard Williams any right over that material… it is not possible for any rights to have been given since the exclusive owner of that material is Mr Basti.’ To date Mr Da’Aloia has never received a reply neither from Williams nor Barnes & Noble.
The Argentine Grey Wolf production crew and administrative staff have never sued Williams and Peterson for payment and have grudgingly accepted their losses. They feel it would be almost impossible to file an international case against an intimidating foreign producer and afford the extortionate legal costs and timescales the Argentine legal system would require.
Magnus Peterson has been jailed, but his Gerbil Films Ltd partner Gerard Williams who was financed by Peterson for the Grey Wolf projects with over £2 million of Weavering cash seems to be riding high and dry on the successful sales of the book, which has now been translated into various languages and sold internationally. Williams has added to his Grey Wolf income through the recent publication of the salvaged film material from the original Argentine Grey Wolf film project. The documentary drama, which has been broadcast on Australian TV and issued on DVD, has been distributed in at least 8 countries. Magnus Peterson is named as ‘Producer’ with Williams as ‘Director’ and their names appear together on the IMDb website. Basti has never received a penny in royalties as to the original agreement.
It may be argued that Williams is just an innocent bystander caught up in the criminal fallout of the Weavering Hedge Fund affair. But such gross professional negligence and dishonesty on such a grand scale can hardly be casual, especially as Williams thanks Peterson for his “undying friendship” in the acknowledgments of the Grey Wolf’ book and mentions Peterson as his “benefactor, supporter, and convivial companion’’. Then add Williams’ gushing appraisal of Peterson to witness accounts of lavish Argentine Grey Wolf production dinners, where crates of expensive wine were imbibed during late night ‘production’ parties. Witnesses claim those frequent bash’s were attended by sultry ‘high class prostitutes’ and people delivering dubious looking powdery substances. All of this has apparently been documented on an Argentine production assistant’s cell phone.
More importantly are the reports of frequent ‘cash runs’ across the Argentine border by boat to the Uruguayan port of Montevideo. Where naïve Argentine production staff were sent as couriers to draw down ‘as much cash as possible’ from multiple cash point machines and Uruguayan banks. It is clear from these allegations that something is seriously amiss behind Gerrard Williams’ Grey Wolf, which requires formal investigation by the Weavering Hedge fund victims.
In 2013 I contacted the chambers of the London law firm fighting for the victims, after I heard that Magnus Peterson was undergoing investigations by the Serious Fraud Office. Unfortunately for the Weavering investors, their London attorneys showed little if any interest and failed to return my calls. However, only weeks later, I was curiously contacted by a former Financial Times and Jane’s Defence correspondent, who was now working in business intelligence investigations out of Bogota. He told me he was aware I was ‘’investigating Williams activities in Argentina’’ and that he had been asked by a ‘client’ to contact me for information regarding the ‘’media man’’ who was ‘’heavily funded by Weavering’’ to which he referred to as a ‘’fraudulent ponzi fund’’.
I had a few conversations with this agent who is currently working for the Brazilian Intelligence Agency (ABIN), who later went on to say that it was ‘’all very strange, to say the least’’ and that he wished to know what my analysis and findings were of a situation where Weavering kept ‘’funneling money into the peculiar Grey Wolf project’’, despite it being a ‘’loss-making venture’’ where ‘’money went missing’’ and where, Williams, had obviously imported funds into Argentina ‘’without declaring them’’. He also wished to know whether Williams had met with any Government officials while here in Buenos Aires and in Uruguay.
I was aware at the time that this British agent was also working for Kroll, the world’s leading risk and security consultancy who operates out of New York and which has extremely close ties with the C.I.A. and U.S. administration. If I were Williams, I would be more than a little concerned to be under such a powerful microscope, unless I had my Grey Wolf production accounts fully in order and above board.
It is ironic that Williams’ weekly cash-runs were taken via the same stretch of river where in 1939 the German pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee was scuttled by her captain, after being severely damaged by Royal Navy cruisers in the Battle of the River Plate. While Williams used the narrow Buenos Aires to Montevideo maritime route to line his pockets and throw parties with money later found to have been stolen from pension funds, Captain Hans Langsdorff, on the other hand, had a deep sense of honour. The German captain was guilt ridden after committing what naval analysts termed a ‘’grievous tactical error’’. As a consequence, Langsdorff who had no choice but to scuttle the mighty ‘Graff Spee’ rather than allow her to fall into enemy British hands, only hours later, agonising with shame, put on his best dress uniform, lay down on his national flag and blew his brains out across a Buenos Aires hotel room.
Magnus Peterson personally made roughly $9.2 million from the Weavering Hedge Fund fraud, but he is now locked up at Her Majesty’s pleasure for the next 13 years for his crimes. Gerrard Williams is estimated to have used over $2 million in cash from the Weavering Fund, while in Argentina, processed through a deliberately mismanaged production, where people are still not paid. He plagiarised people’s’ work and denied their moral rights. He presented and published false information, yet is still unaccountable with a fully inflated ego and professional reputation which remains intact.
Hard working people lost their savings and pensions through Weavering, but the Grey Wolf book and film royalties – which are technically owned by the author and investigator Abel Basti and the Weavering fund victims, are still rolling in for Williams, Peterson and Barnes & Noble. A sad state of affairs from a British mainstream media newsman of 30 years, whose dubious modus operandi and connections to the Weavering Hedge Fund have to date been ignored by the UK press.
But nothing can sum up Magnus Peterson’s sidekick Gerrard Williams character better than one account of his actions while filming Grey Wolf;
Williams in exchange for a child’s featured acting role in Argentina, offered the young boy a Play-Station rather than money as payment. The child and his parents were happy about this, even though the salary for a featured role should buy several games consoles. Rather than send a production assistant out to Buenos Aires to buy the promised reward, Williams told the child that as the ‘Play-Station’ was ‘So expensive in Argentina’ he would bring it with him on his next trip over from London. Needless to say, that child is now a young man and is still waiting for his promised prize.
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