The office of Total Digital S.A. is discreet. It does not have any sign that identifies it and in the stamp the logo of another company with which it has a corporate relationship is attached. The property is on the fifth floor of the Amazonas building, in downtown Guayaquil.
Total Digital served as a bridge for the National Intelligence Secretariat (Senain) to acquire in 2013 the equipment, licenses and services of Hacking Team (HT), the Italian company that offers systems of interception of communications to governments.
Several international organizations, such as Reporters Without Borders and Wikileaks, have denounced that these tools are used to spy on citizens.
A series of HT emails, which were hacked and then released by Wikileaks in 2015, shows how Total Digital’s participation in the agreement between Senain and HT was prepared.
In January 2013, a Robotec executive, a Colombian company allied with HT, wrote to a representative of the Italian firm in English: “The local partner Total Digital will be the main contractor. However, Robotec will receive the payment directly from the customer in Ecuador for the corresponding software. ”
Five months later, on June 18, 2013, Total Digital subscribed a contract with the Senain for $ 2.98 million. It was signed by the then general manager of the company, Sandy Guime Guerrero, and the then national secretary of Intelligence, Pablo Romero Quezada.
The document, which was partially published by the digital portal La Posta, indicates that the object of the contract was the “provision of monitoring tools to perform collection tests on mobile and fixed devices”. The first item of the contract was “Hacking Team licenses and services”.
When the contract was signed, the majority shareholder of Total Digital was Fernando Amador Arosemena, who is now the Transportation Director of the Municipal Transit Authority of Guayaquil. He served for two years as Undersecretary of Transportation in the government of Rafael Correa.
Asked about the contract between Senain and Total Digital, Amador questioned: “What does the watermark say (in reference to the text that appears in the background of the document)?”. “He says it’s secret,” replied the journalist from EL UNIVERSO. “Then, consider it as such,” the official said.
He also acknowledged that he received a HT technician in the country. That episode is also recorded in the mails stolen from the Italian company. It happened in May of 2014.
The communications chain states that this visit was made because the Senain requested an additional demonstration of how the interception system worked.
The emails show that, to enter the country the teams with which the demonstration would take place without having problems with the customs, HT issued a proforma to Total Digital, which contained all the data of the Ecuadorian firm.
Amador bought 99.9% of Total Digital’s shares in August 2012. That same month, the company began to obtain public contracts.
This newspaper placed eight hires in the Public Purchases portal, totaling $ 428,353, all related to IT services. Among the clients are the Comptroller General of the State, the National Secretariat of Planning and Development (Senplades), the Air Operations and Defense Command, and others.
In November 2014, Amador got rid of the company. “I have never mixed public work with my private activity. Either I am public or I am private, but never both, “he said.
Links between the Senain and HT began to be released at the end of 2013, when EL UNIVERSO published a letter by which Pablo Romero Quezada authorized the Argentine company Illuminati Lab to contact the Italian company on behalf of the Secretariat.
Illuminati Lab worked on the campaign for the reelection of Correa in 2013. This company also served as a link with the Spanish firm Ares Right, specialized in disappearing content from the internet.
In 2015, when HT’s emails became public and their relationship with the Senain became evident, the Correa government denied ties with the Italian firm. The then president said that the emails released by Wikileaks showed nothing and that everything was “a political show”.
The then head of the Senain, Rommy Vallejo, denied that there was a contract between that institution and HT. In a statement added that “it is totally false that any hiring of the Senain has served to attack digital media or other political objectives.”
Members of the Yasunidos collective complained to the Public Prosecutor’s Office that agents of the Senain had spied on them. The case is under investigation.
In Total Digital they avoided giving a pronouncement. An employee said that the current owner, Mariela Pacheco Benavides, is on vacation and closed the door
Executives and shareholders
The relationship between Brainservices and Total Digital involves sharing executives. Diana Tintinago is president and shareholder of the first and also manager of the second. Another shareholder of Brainservices is Marcos Chootong.
In turn, Mariela Pacheco is the manager of Brainservices and majority shareholder in Total Digital. (I)