Romania's National Anticorruption Directorate has revealed in a dramatic official announcement an alleged corruption scandal involving several senior government officials including Prince Paul-Phillip Hohenzollen. According to reports in the Romanian media, three Israeli businessmen have also been allegedly involved in the affair Shimon Sheves, Tal Silberstein and Beny Steinmetz. Earlier last week, a former senior Romanian government official Remus Truica was arrested in the matter as the main suspect in the fraud and money laundering affair, as well as Dan Andronic, CEO of the popular daily newspaper "Evenimentul Zilei." Other senior Romanian figures were also arrested.
According to the allegations, Truica led extensive real estate fraud that began in 2006 and caused damage estimated at €136 million. As part of the operations allegedly led by Truica, the group illegally bought government land covering 170,000-sq.m. in the north of Bucharest, after bribing various officials and with the direct involvement of Prince Paul.
Truica denies the deeds attributed to him as does Prince Paul who was called in for questioning at DNA's headquarters in Brasov last week but was taken ill en route and required medical treatment. It is not yet known whether an arrest warrant has been put out for the three Israelis.
Sheves served in the early 1990s as director general of the Prime Minister's office under then Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Tal Silberstein has been a political advisor for Israeli prime ministers Ehud Barak, Ehud Olmert and Benjamin Netanyahu, and Beny Steinmetz is one of Israel's wealthiest businessmen who regularly appears on "Forbes" wealth list, and has also been under investigation in Guinea regarding mining rights.
The Romanian media has published a transcript of an alleged conversation between Steinmetz, Trucia and another unidentified person. In the conversation, Trucia tells Steinmetz, "As you know, Tal's (Silberstein) friend hasn't done a thing, but we have found somebody who is supposed to do it, and we've found another person too, and we have the tools, and tomorrow at 10 there is a meeting at the institute. I'll be going with the prince (Paul) and the lawyer, and I hope there will be a good outcome."
"And what happens then?" Steinmetz allegedly asks. Trucia answers. "Nothing. Just one signature and its ours." The unidentified person adds, "And then it's ours? That means we can begin work on the land? Trucia answers, "Yes it's 100% ours just like your car. Absolutely yours. The three men then laugh and Trucia closes the conversation by saying, "There will probably be a small payment we will need to make to these people but it is not a lot."
A spokesman for Steinmetz said, "The allegations are groundless."
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on December 13, 2015
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