Prosecutorsâ investigation of the top leadership of Rompetrol Group NV (RCC.RO), the second largest oil group operating in Romania, performed a lot in the public eye, during the past ten months.In May last year Dinu Patriciu, Rompetrol president, was briefly detained and since then media attention did not go away. The frequent visits Patriciu made to the prosecutorsâ office to answer their questions being as many occasions for him to claim his innocence, as for the prosecutors to keep quiet about the details of the case they were building. We all found out the indictment targeted a cross-border organized crime group which siphoned out of Romania money obtained by tax evasion, fraud, and inside trading on the Bucharest Stock Exchange. The prosecutors added to Patriciuâs name on their list, those of other members of the Rompetrol management team, and of officials with the state authority vetting companies to operate on the Bucharest Stock Exchange.
Indeed, to Patriciuâs name those of American citizens George Philip Stephenson and Colin Richard Hart, also top managers in the Rompetrol Group, were added during the investigation. Only that Stephenson and Hart already left Romania, informing the prosecutors on January 23rd that they no longer resided in the country. The prosecutorsâ office issued in absentia a 30-day arrest warrant for both Stephenson and Hart. Another American, John Hamilton Works, who was president and CEO of Rompetrol, is indicted for organizing during 1998 and 2002 the illegal sale of the company assets and the transfer abroad of money which should have entered into the Romanian state budget. Erich Kish, with both Israeli and Romanian citizenship, is vice-president of the Strategic Development division of Rompetrol and represents the group in Albania. As executive officer since 1998, he allegedly engaged in misleading the Romanian authorities when taking part in privatization deals, committed forgery of contracts and laundered and transferred abroad money thus obtained. Sorin Marin, on the Council of Administration of several companies based both in Romania and abroad, allegedly misled authorities when participating in the privatization of some companies and laundered the money thus obtained via several foundations. Marin was part of the alleged criminal group formed at the helm of Rompetrol between 1998 and 2002. Alexandru Nicolcioiu and Cristian Volintiru both allegedly engaged in similar activities as Marin did, and are also indicted as part of the crime group. Petric Grama, from the Ministry of Finance, and Victor Eros and Paul Miclaus, with the authority screening companies willing to trade on the Bucharest Stock Exchange, are the three officials indicted in this case. Grama allegedly helped the Rompetrol leaders to pocket the 85 million dollars debt Libya owed Romania; this is the reason why the Ministry of Finance is now a civil part in the suit, trying to get back from Rompetrol what should have reached state coffers. Miclaus was allegedly guilty of lying to the court regarding the illegal manipulation of the Stock Exchange, with the inside trading of Rompetrol shares. Prosecutors concluded Patriciu, Stephenson and Hart tried to block the finding of the truth with influencing witnesses and referring their case excessively to the media, in order to create a favorable public opinion. At the same time, Patriciu was allegedly guilty of disinformation, prosecutors said, as he alleged the investigation targeted the Dutch oil group investing in Rompetrol, when in fact it aimed only the criminal activities of the natural person Patriciu which he allegedly performed during and as a result of him being the president of Rompetrol.
Translated by ANCA PADURARU