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Court orders jail time for two former Romanian Ministers in ‘strategic privatizations’ case

Two former Romanian ministers were recently sentenced to jail for their involvement in a crime group related to the privatization of several Romanian companies, including Electrica Muntenia Sud, Petrom, Romaero and Avioane Craiova, among others. The two ministers had given secret information to a group of international consultants.

Former Romanian Economy Minister Ioan Codruţ Şereş was recently sentenced to jail for having joined a crime group and for treason via disclosing secret information. He got five years in jail for joining the crime group, and six for treason. The decision can be further appealed, and if final, he will serve the longest of the sentences, by Romanian law.

Zsolt Nagy, former Communication Minister, got five years in jail without probation, for having joined the crime group.

The High Court also ordered jail time, four years and ten months, for Czech Michal Susak for having created a transnational crime group, and ten years for complicity in espionage. He will serve the ten years in jail.

Mircea Călin Flore, senior director of CSFB Europe Ltd. London, got a similar jail sentence, four years and ten months for having initiated the crime group, and nine and a half years for complicity in espionage. Should the decision, which can also be appealed, be further kept, he will serve the nine and a half years in jail.

The recent court orders were part of a trial nicknamed “the strategic privatizations”, which started in April 2007. Back then, international consultant Stamen Stanchev, and ministerial employees Mihai Dorinel Mucea and Mihai Radu Donciu were sent to court for having created an international crime group, which relied on transmitting national secrets, which represents treason.

Another person involved and sent to court was Vadim Benyatov Don, but he was trialed separately. The same went for the two former ministers, Seres and Nagy, who were sent to justice in 2009.

The six people were charged with illegal activities connected to the privatization of Electrica Muntenia Sud, the sale of an 8 percent share package in Petrom, the privatization and restructuring of Romaero Bucharest and Avioane Craiova.

They were also involved in illegal activities centered on consultancy for the privatization of the National Society Radiocomunicaţii, as well as consultancy for privatizing the Romanian Post, and on the selection of the consultant for listing on the stock exchange 46 percent in telecom company Romtelecom, the package which was owned by the state.

The crime group was created in 2005-2006 by Vadim Benyatov and Stamen Stanchev, who were later joined by Susak Michal and Mustafa Oral. The groupfocused on finding out secret information about the privatization of strategic Romanian companies in telecom and energy, with the help of ministry employees Mucea and Donciu. According to prosecutors, Benyatov used the information received via the other members of the crime group during the negotiations with former ministers Nagy and Seres. The latter quit his minister seat in 2006, after his talks from 2005 with Stanchev has been intercepted and leaked to the media. Nagy was suspended in 2007.