Romania Jails Senior Politicians For Fraud

A Romanian court jailed an MP and a former minister for manipulating the stock exchange in what is seen as an important test case.

Romania’s appeals court on Tuesday jailed a senator, Sorin Rosca Stanescu, for two years and four months for his involvement in a case seen as a test of Romania’s ability to conduct high-level corruption trials.

Stanescu was found guilty of using privileged information and manipulating the stock exchange by underselling shares in the oil company Rompetrol and then buying them back.

Six other people, including former Communication Minister Sorin Pantis, were also jailed for the involvement in the crime. Pantis, who is already in jail for money laundering, is to serve two years and eight months.

On 7 April 2004, Rompetrol – Romania’s second largest oil group – was listed on the Bucharest Stock Exchange. More than 2 billion shares were traded that day. Some friends of Dinu Patriciu, the then owner of the company, including politicians, bought shares at very low prices only to sell them later for big profits.

Officials of the former capital market supervisory authority CNVM were also indicted in this case as accessories to capital market manipulation, as they closed their eyes to these transactions. All have been given jail sentences with parole.

Dinu Patriciu died in August, aged 64. Prosecutors had sought a 20-year jail sentence for Patriciu, as he orchestrated the stock market listing, but he was never convicted.

Patriciu sold his stake in Rompetrol in 2008 to Kazakhstan’s state-owned energy operator KazMunaiGaz for around 2.7 billion dollars, according to media reports.

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