CONFERINȚA "Viitorul pieței de capital românești" - Ediția a VI-a
OPERATION "BEATRICE" DID NOT BRING ABOUT HIS CONVICTION
BURSA 03.07.2014

ALEXANDRU SÂRBU (Translated by Cosmin Ghidoveanu)
 
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     The judges of the High Court of Cassation and Justice (ICCJ) yesterday acquitted Horia Ciorcilă, the chairman of the Board of Directors of Banca Transilvania, of the charges of stock market manipulation and using inside information.
     Also acquitted along with Horia Ciorcilă, were Claudiu Silaghi, former member of the Board of Directors of Banca Transilvania (deceased during the first instance hearing), Mirela Silaghi, Doina Mărioara Cojocaru (the wife, and mother-in-law of Claudiu Silaghi respectively), Dan Sergiu Dascăl, the director of operations of BT Securities, Radu Jurcovan, broker at IFB Finwest, Giorgios Christoforou (the former CEO of Bank of Cyprus Romania) and Anastasios Isaakidis (former credit risk manager of the bank).
     Horia Ciorcilă was indicted in July 2010, by the prosecutors of the Department to Counter International Organized Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT) Cluj on charges of stock market manipulation, in connection to trades involving shares in the bank he managed.
     In July 2011, the Court of Bucharest has rejected as unfounded the charges made by DIICOT Cluj concerning Horia Ciorcilă and the other defendants.
     The prosecutors have appealed that ruling, as the trial went to the Court of Appeal of Bucharest, which however, dismissed the appeal, in June 2012.
     Yesterday, it was the turn of the High Court of Cassation and Justice to dismiss the second appeal of the DIICOT.
     Compared to the lawsuits from the Court of Cluj and the Bucharest Court of Appeal, the court in acțiunea de la ÎCCJ has new evidence in the case, namely the report which investigates how Bank of Cyprus came to own 9.7% of the shares of Banca Transilvania (BT), drawn up by American consulting firm Alvarez&Marsal (A&M), at the request of the Central Bank of Cyprus.
     The lawyers of Horia Ciorcilă and of the other defendants have disputed the document, and argued that two pages were missing from the document, the absence of which was not mentioned in the version of the document translated into Romanian and which contain "essential" information when it comes to creating a correct picture of the case.
     The lawyers also warned that the Alvarez&Marsal report was not signed nor did it represent an audit report, and its authors are not specialized in the stock market, from a technical, or a legal standpoint.
     They also claimed that the document had no connection to the lawsuit on trial and the ICCJ and furthermore it was harmful to the public image of Banca Transilvania.
     However, the judges of the High Court declined the request for the report to be rejected, deeming it relevant evidence in the trial.
     In a press release by Banca Transilvania, posted on the website of the institution and sent to the Bucharest Stock Exchange (BVB), the bank hailed the ruling of the court, and stated that Horia Ciorcilă "played an important role in the success of Banca Transilvania and still does".
     In another press release posted on the website of the bank, the president of the bank said that he was happy to receive the news of his acquittal, together with the other defendants.
     He said: "It took over four years to prove that all the charges have been unfounded and aberrant. The charges have been completely false and, as to what concerns me, I have proven before three courts, based on official documents beyond any doubts that as to what concerns me, I was not the owner of the company involved in those trades, that I did not order them and that I have never collected any portion of their amount. In conclusion, this was a huge mistake of the indicters".
     * Horia Ciorcilă: "The lawsuit - an attempt to destroy companies built in over 20 years of work, passion and sustained effort"
     Horia Ciorcilă claims that the lawsuit filed by the prosecutors of DIICOT Cluj was an attempt to destroy "not just companies built in 20 years of work, passion and sustained efforts, but also to affect our careers and families".
     The president of Banca Transilvania also said that the ruling of the High Court is a major victory, but also a pious homage to Claudiu Silaghi, whom he says was unable to withstand the pressure of the first trial, during which he died.
     Law firm Plopeanu&Ionescu, which represented Horia Ciorcilă, Claudiu Silaghi and Dan Dascăl, considers that the decision of the court brings several firsts to Romanian case law, because it is the first final ruling rendered in a case of stock market manipulation, use of inside information and disclosure of inside information; it is the first final ruling of acquittal of the charges of stock market manipulation, use of inside information and disclosure of inside information; it is the first time when stock market trades involving TLV stock, conducted both on the Regular market, as well as on the Deal market of the BSE, trades which were the object of charges of stock market manipulation, use of inside information and disclosure of inside information were examined by a court of first instance; but also because a definitive ruling has been rendered that states that in "Deal"-type trades, direct negotiation between clients is legal, and therefore allowed.
     The lawyers have also said that the ruling of the ICCJ has "an overwhelming importance" because, by providing a principle solution concerning the manner of execution of negotiated trades will decisively influence the judicial practice on this matter, representing an essential milestone.
     The Alvarez&Marsal reports describes the progress of the acquisition by Bank of Cyprus of a stake of almost 10% of the shares of Banca Transilvania, a deal which was given the codename "Beatrice" in the internal reports of the Cypriot bank which were preparing the deal in question in 2009.
     The report mentions that Bank of Cyprus bought the shares of TLV through various structures, including through the companies owned by Horia Ciorcilă, which concealed the true owner of the shares, in order to limit the impact this would have had on the price of the stock, as the market was not informed about the intention to buy a significant stake in Banca Transilvania. 
 

 
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