Romanian multi-millionaire fights ex-wife over control of landmark shopping center in Bucharest

Dan Adamescu, one of Romania’s richest, and his son Alexander Adamescu are fighting with Carmen Palade, Dan Adamescu’s ex-wife, over controlling Unirea Shopping Center, one of the Bucharest’s iconic shopping centers, located in Unirii Square, close to the Parliament’s Palace.

Dan and Alexandru Adamescu are trying to remove Carmen Palade from the positions of chairman of the board and general manager of Unirea Shopping Center, which she has held since 2002. However, Adamescu’s ex-wife has been blocking the convening of a general shareholders meeting for the election of a new board.

The Adamescu family owns 74% of Unirea Shopping Center via their holding-company The Nova Group. Carmen Palade only holds a small minority stake in the company on her name, according to official reports. However, she may have the right to get part of the company’s shares after divorcing Dan Adamescu.

Unirea Shopping Center is one of the Adamescu family’s most valuable assets. The company’s net assets are valued at over EUR 100 million while the turnover was EUR 16 million in 2015, according to official reports. However, the company ended the year 2015 on a loss for the first time in more than 10 years. Unirea Shopping Center is also listed on the Bucharest Stock Exchange and has a market capitalization of EUR 38 million.

The Adamescu family also controls the Intercontinental hotel in Bucharest, the Rex hotel in Mamaia, and several office buildings, including one that hosts the headquarters of the Bucharest Stock Exchange.

Dan Adamescu and Carmen Palade officially divorced in June this year, one year after Carmen Palade filed for divorce. She also asked for the division of the family’s assets. However, the court that ruled the divorce didn’t also rule the division of assets as Carmen Palade didn’t pay the nearly EUR 50 million judicial tax, according to the local media.

Alexander Adamescu, has been managing The Nova Group after his father was sentenced to 4 years and 4 months of jail time, in May 2016, for bribing judges to get favorable sentences in business related lawsuits. He claims that father’s ex-wife has been breaking the law by refusing the convening of the general shareholders meeting. He also accuses the Financial Supervisory Authority (ASF) and Bucharest Court of not applying the law in this case.

Adamescu Jr. has accused Carmen Palade earlier this year of trying to illegally take over the company and remove The Nova Group as a shareholder. He claims that this is part of a wider “persecution campaign” against his father and the companies he owns.

In August 2015, insurer Astra Asigurari, Adamescu’s biggest company, was forced into bankruptcy by a decision of the Financial Supervisory Authority (ASF), which cancelled the company’s operating license on the insurance market due to financial problems. Astra Asigurari had been the leader of the local insurance market for several years before that decision.

Moreover, the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) charged Dan Adamescu with embezzlement and mismanagement in a case related to Astra Asigurari’s bankruptcy. Alexander Adamescu was also investigated in this case and the prosecutors even asked for his arrest.

Dan Adamescu, who also owns the Romania Libera newspaper, has been one of the most powerful supporters of former President Traian Basescu. His legal problems started in 2014, the last year of Basescu’s mandate.

Dan Adamescu’s name is also tied to the Black Cube scandal in Romania. Israeli private security company Black Cube, which employs former secret service agents, has apparently been involved in spying on Romania’s chief anti-corruption prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi.

Dan Adamescu allegedly signed a contract with Black Cube in March 2015, when DNA was investigating him for bribing judges, according to local Hotnews.ro. However, representatives of the Adamescu family have denied this information saying that no contract had ever been signed.

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