x close
Click Accept pentru a primi notificări cu cele mai importante știri! Nu, multumesc Accept
Jurnalul.ro Vechiul site Old site English Version 6 Million Pounds Wanted from the Politicians

6 Million Pounds Wanted from the Politicians

de Valentin Zaschievici    |    Paul Cristian Radu    |    09 Iun 2006   •   00:00
6 Million Pounds Wanted from the Politicians

The Romanian judicial authorities have admitted that, one month ago, the British investigators asked them to cooperate for the investigation of the "frigate errand". The Georges, arrested in London, have cashed in only one of the 7 million pounds offered as bribe in the purchasing of the battle-ships. The other six millions are being looked for in the bank accounts of several Romanian politicians.

The Romanian authorities have confirmed yesterday the corruption deal that took place between Bucharest and London. The Police and the Prosecutors’ Office have admitted to have received the request for judicial assistance from Great Britain which concerns a great corruption case regarding the purchase of the "King Ferdinand" and "queen Mary" frigates.

The deal with the secret errands paid by the British company BAE Systems for the modernization contract of the two second-hand frigates purchased from Romania has put a bomb under the Romanian and British politicians. We remind that, in yesterday’s issue, Jurnalul National has presented the exclusive article that read about the fact that British businessperson Barry George, the BAE Systems adviser in the frigates deal, and his wife, Romanian Georgiana George, have been arrested during a SFO operation. The British agency investigates two secret errands, with a total value of seven million pounds, paid by BAE Systems to the Georges and to another person, which is supposed to be a high Romanian official. In this context, we have to remind that, according to our sources, SFO has confiscated the documents in the house of the Georges in Chelsea and found 25,000 euros cash in the same place. Yesterday afternoon, SFO was supposed to ask for the legal confiscation of this sum, based on a law that validates the confiscation of the goods and sums of money that come from criminal activities. Yesterday’s issue of "The Guardian" allows a lot of space to this subject and says the investigation of the British authorities targets the contracts of BAE Systems with several countries in the past years.

INVESTIGATION GOT TO US. Yesterday, a public statement of the General Police Inspectorate informed that, in April, it had received a request for international assistance from Great Britain, "which referred to some serious crimes during the period of the contract for the purchase of certain battle ships by Romania from Great Britain. On the 28th of April, the British request has been sent to the High Court Prosecutors’ Office by the Police. On the 10th of May, the International Cooperation Directorate of the High Court Prosecutors’ Office has sent the request to the National Anticorruption Directorate. The NAD board has confirmed that this request of judicial assistance is being "processed". The Romanian Ministry of Defense said that it has nothing to do with the contracts between the British Defense Ministry and BAE Systems or with any other business partners of this company. "The purchase agreement and the necessary modernizations took place in accordance to the contract, the frigates have been tested on sea, have been accepted by a commission of the Ministry of Defense, the ships are part of the operative service".

BARRY’S COMPANIES. We presented some of the companies of Barry George and his wife in yesterday’s issue. One of them is Axis Trade & Consulting in Bucharest, a company that appears in the SFO report and where Georgiana’s mom is an associate. The Document of the Finance Ministry had a turnover of 43 billion lei in 2004. We remind that the deal between the Romanian Government and BAE Systems regarding the modernization of the frigates, for which it paid approximately 116 million pounds, has been authorized in 2004 as well. The SFO investigation was based on the premise that Barry George cashed approximately 1 million pounds for this deal, while the other 6 millions of the secret errand went to a Romanian politician.
However, Goerge’s relations to Romania don’t stop at only one company. The Georges have two companies Rom-Air and Rom-Car, which were inaugurated in England in the early 80s. In this context, we have to say that BAE Systems had some deals with Ceausescu’s Government in the same period. As a total, the BAE-Ceausescu deals have reached the impressive sum of 1.7 billion USD. One of the contracts, with a total value of 400 million USD, targeted the Romanian production of the BAC 111 plane, which the Romanians have named ROMBAC.

One of the main business partners of Barry George is Gheorghe Racaru, former director at Tarom. Racaru has been one of his associates in a company in Great Britain, Romanian Air Transport National Company-Tarom Inc. Rodica Miculescu is another name in this business circle, which is a former director at Tarom as well, and the sister-in-law of former PM Adrian Nastase.

SECRET ERRANDS. According to the British investigators, BAE Systems admitted to have paid the two secret errands, but refuse to say the names of the people that received the money. There are some other hidden aspects of the second-hand frigates, which refer to the offset agreement between Romania and Great Britain. This type of contract assumes that the British side will buy Romanian army gear with a value equivalent to the one the Romanians paid for the modernization of the frigates. However, the British don’t have any kind of interest in the autochthonous defense industry.

Iliescu: "This Has Nothing to Do with the Presidential Administration"

The former Romanian President, Ion Iliescu, has stated yesterday that the presidential administration didn’t have anything to do with this purchase, which seemed profitable for Romania at that moment in time. "The fleet did not have anything left, all the ships were old and it seemed a profitable technical solution for the Romanian Army and Marine", Iliescu explained. The former President explained he had seen the ship at the docks, and the Presidential Administration did not interfere with the negotiations. His Defense Adviser, Ioan Talpes, doesn’t have anything to do with this either because, according to Iliescu, at that time "the advisers and the Presidential Administration did not interfere with such things". Therefore, "there is no way Talpes is involved", Iliescu concludes and adds: "maybe he did it to be informed, because the Governmental institutions are the only ones that take care of these things" Iliescu said that the questions should go to "the Adrian Nastase Government and the present Government that have all the documents".

NO COMMENT!. Jurnalul National asked former Presidential adviser Ioan Talpes to answer some questions, but refused making any comments. "I have a problem with Jurnalul National and I won’t comment anything for you", was Iona Talpes’s only comment.

Afterwards, Ioan Talpes made a statement to PRO TV, where he denied the fact he had taken part in the negotiations, but he admitted he supported the buying of the two frigates. On the other hand, the former Presidential adviser talks now about an errand that should go to the company that mediates the contract. "I don’t know if there is an errand. In exchange, I know that, usually, there is a company that mediates, that takes care of the negotiations and that receives an errand established legally", Talpes said.

HEARING AT THE COMMISSION. The former SDP Deputy Razvan Ionescu, the President of the Chamber Defense Commission, stated for us that in the spring of 2004, from some articles in the press, the commission set-up a hearing regarding the frigates deal. Ionescu stated that, at that time, there were no suspicions concerning the bribe or the consultant of the BAE Systems, Barry George. The discussions at the commission, where the representatives of the Defense Ministry, the ones of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce and the ones of BAE Systems focused on the suspicions regarding the fact that Romania wouldn’t have been able to satisfy its part of the deal. "Because it was an offset contract, Romania was supposed to give in return for a sum of money certain products. However, the English part didn’t find any products in our offer that it could use". Ionescu added that the hearings also targeted the delays of the contract and the old technique of the frigates. "Barry George took part in the negotiations as well. I know him very well and I personally asked him to announce the ones at BAE Systems to show up at the Commission, because I knew he was the main adviser of the deal. It was almost official that he was a consultant. I cannot tell you the sum he earned by doing this. He probably had a consulting agreement of 1%, and there are no secret errands in such contracts and he couldn’t have been bribed", Ionescu said. As for the arresting of George, Ionescu did not comment because he did not know anything about the "clues" of the British authorities.

THE NAD DATA. Participant in the Reunion of the North-Atlantic Council at the NATO headquarters, the Defense Minister, Teodor Atanasiu, stated for Jurnalul National: "It is quite clear that the Ministry of Defense has been involved in the takeover of the frigates. Romtehnica has been the Ministry of Defense representative for this, and the Government signed the papers. I will not start an internal investigation regarding this, because I am sure that NAD has more data that it let fall. Now, as far as the frigates are concerned, we are negotiating with the British for the maintenance agreement".

Translated by SORIN BALAN