The prosecutors ask for the temporary arrest of Dinu Patriciu and his business partners, Colin R. Hart and Philip Stephenson. They are accused of the illegal takeover of an 85 million euro book debt from Libya. The motivation of the request to the judges has approximately 50 pages.
Yesterday, Patriciu walked out a free man from his 19th hearing in the Rompetrol file. He made an astonishing statement according to which he is to be arrested. True. The Prosecutorsâ Office confirmed last night, unofficially, that the prosecutors of DIICOT (the Direction for the Investigation of the Terrorism and Organized Crime Acts) would ask the Court for the temporary arrest of the Rompetrol president and of his business partners, American Colin R. Hart, the representative of Cypriot off-shore Saltville LTD, and Philip Stephenson, vice-president of the Rompetrol Group (TRG), for several crimes. The new accusations regard a book debt in Lybia that they seem to have taken before in the name of Rompetrol. Judicial sources say the book debt that the prosecutors use in order to ask for the arrest of the three businessmen is written on approximately 50 pages.
According to the investigators, the Rompetrol representatives have illegally cashed an external book debt of the Romanian state, which is worth 85 million USD, using an extremely ingenuous combination. The money that Romania had to cash after an investment in Libya, when Ceausescu was still the Romanian leader, were moved from one company to another, which was to keep the attention away from their initial provenience. At that time, the contract was dealt by Rompetrol of Libya, a subsidiary of the Romanian Rompetrol, which, after the privatization, acted like the money invested in the respective firm before 1989 belonged to them, but not to the Romanian state. According to the investigators, the money moving started after Rompetrol, led by Dinu Patriciu, ceased the book debt to TRG, in exchange for 35 million USD. Then, a innovative contract with Rompetrol International, another company controlled by Patriciu, came up. There were payments to Petromidia made from this company, as contribution to the joint account, and the total sum reached 30 million USD. A large part of this money came back to TRG the next day under the title of payments to the supplier. These operations were illegal, as the prosecutors say, because TRG, as buyer of Petromidia products, didnât do its contractual duties of contributing to the joint account. Moreover, the investigators say that AVAS (the Association for the Evaluation of the State Assets) was "tricked" as well by the fact that the joint account contribution in cash was in fact a book debt, that should have went in the stateâs bank accounts.
In its defense, Rompetrol stated that the obligations as well as the rights of the rights of the former company, which includes the book debt in Libya, have entered the patrimony of Rompetrol after the privatization. However, the viewpoint of the Ministry of Public Finances, shown officially in a letter to the DIICOT investigators, says clearly: the activity for the recovery of the stateâs book debts is made by the Ministry of Finances in accordance to the Law no 29/1994 and needs the Government approval in order to begin. A very important fact is that the sums coming from the recovery of the state book debts are transferred into the state budget.
After last yearâs failure, when the Court didnât release the mandate for the arrest, which the Prosecutorsâ Office had demanded, after Patriciu had been retained, now, the prosecutors ask the judges of the Bucharest Court of Law for the arrest directly, without any other previous retaining. This is why Dinu Patrciu walked out a free man from yesterdayâs hearings, but he said he would be back in Court for the discussion on the proposal for temporary arrest. "I didnât expect to be here today. I thought the lawyers would be the only ones here. I came here because of the subpoena I received", Dinu Patriciu said.
On Wednesday, the prosecutors have asked for a technical, accounting, economical and financial expertise of all the files in which Dinu Patriciu appears as defendant. The businessman complained: "They start now an expertise weâve been asking for during the past two years. This can only mean they look try to put a quart into a pint pot, which should be the proof of our presence here today".
When he got out of the High Court of Cassation and Justice headquarters, Dinu Patriciu apologized to all the people mentioned as making part of the interest groups involved in the files in which he is investigated. He even named some of them: Sorin Rosca Stanescu - which he called and "important member" of these groups, Sorin Pantis, as well as many other brokers. Answering to the media questions regarding the involvement of Calin Popescu Tariceanu, Catalin Harnagea or Cameliei Voiculescu in these groups, Patriciu answered they werenât part of those interest groups.
Dinu Patriciuâs Lawyer, Cristian Iordanescu, stated for us last night that another temporary arrest of his client is a real "mockery". "After waiting for hours in a row, we have been told that the judges have asked for a new bench warrant for Dinu Patriciu", Iordanescu said. The lawyer says the prosecutors have one more time broken his clientâs right to defense, because he was not offered the possibility to study the new accusations he was facing. "They told us it was an extension of the investigation which regards a book debt in Libya. They showed us quickly a pile of papers and we asked for time to prepare the defense strategy. Our request was denied and, in the end, they told us they would ask the judges for the temporary arrest. Not only for Dinu Patriciu, but also for Colin R. Hart and Philip Stephenson", Cristian Iordanessu stated. Now, the lawyers and the defendants expect to be called in Court for a judge to decide upon the request of the prosecutors. (Miruna Pasa)
Translation by Sorin Balan