Romanian prosecutors indict businessman, officials in €70mn property restitution fraud

By bne IntelliNews August 26, 2015

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Romania’s Anticorruption Prosecution Office (DNA) has completed investigations on a major €70mn property restitution case and submitted the file to the Bucharest Court of Appeal, the DNA announced in a press release on August 25.

DNA prosecutors have charged local businessman Simu Horia, the top management of the property restitution body ANRP at the date of the alleged frauds in 2008, and members of the ANRP committee that were reviewing the restitution claims with fraud. A property evaluator was also charged with complicity to commit fraud.

In February 2008, the six members of ANRP top management and the central committee for compensation within ARRP endorsed the restitution claim filed by Horia Simu for 97,509 square metres (sqm) of land. The claim was accompanied by forged documents aimed at demonstrating that the land cannot be given in kind.

Simu also submitted forged medical documents demonstrating precarious health, aimed at allowing the ANRP official to preferentially treat his case. ANRP agreed to pay Simu €128mn, some €70mn above the market price, according to prosecutors.

Simu was not the initial owner of the land claimed from ARNP. Instead, he paid some $1.5mn for the property rights to the heirs of the actual owners of the land that was nationalised by the communist regime, according to Mediafax, quoting a report from the Court of Accounts.

Sima paid $1.5mn for the property rights and then realised benefits of $189mn from the restitutions, according to the Court of Accounts, calculating the values at the exchange rate as of March 2008 (RON2.45 to the US dollar).  

After he received the money from ANRP, Simu invested part of the money, through offshore companies, in Romanian companies including construction company CCCF Bucuresti, copper mining company Cuprom and drilling company Foradex.

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