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Patriciu, Stephenson and Hart, to Be Arrested
BOOK DEBTAccording 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.
FINANCEIn 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.
SURPRISEAfter 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.
EXPERTISEOn 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".
APOLOGIESWhen 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.
THE LAWYERDinu 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
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