"Galaxy Tobacco" is due in court today

Emilia Olescu (Translated by Cosmin Ghidoveanu)
Ziarul BURSA #English Section / 21 februarie 2011

Cigarette maker "Galaxy Tobacco" (formerly called "Societatea Naţională Tutunul Românesc SA") has a hearing in court today, after the prosecutors of the National Anticorruption Department (DNA) sued the company in December last year, together with several members of the Ministry of Public Finance for tax evasion, DNA officials said.

Besides "Galaxy Tobacco", the other defendants who are also charged with tax evasion are Vasile Duţă, the director and managing director of the company, and Antonello Celestini, the president and shareholder of the company. Graţiela Iordache, secretary of state at the time in the Ministry of Finance and Livia Bădescu, who care held the position of head of office in the Excise Legislation Department of the Ministry of Public Finance.

The prosecutors of the DNA stated that between November 2007 and April 2009, "Galaxy Tobacco" issued and executed two contracts which concerned the transfer of the rights of ownership of the quantities of 231.7 tons and 871.2 tons of raw tobacco, respectively to the Italian company CTS: "The transfer was made from warehouses which were not authorized as tax warehouses (Zimnicea, Bucharest, Târgu Jiu etc), in violation of the legal provisions concerning bonded warehouses and without any distribution for retail authorization. Issuing and executing the two contracts was intended to conceal the assets and the taxable source and as a result, avoid paying taxes to the state".

In order to avoid the legal duty to pay excises and VAT, for raw or partially processed tobacco, the officials of the company (Duţă Vasile and Celestini Antonello) have successfully devised a set of fraudulent maneuvers, intended to conceal the taxable source represented by the delivery of approximately 1,000 tons of tobacco, to Italian company CTS.

Tax evasion occurred in two stages, according to the prosecution"s charge, as in the first stage, the state suffered a loss of 8,240,878.8 lei (the amount of excises not paid), and in the second stage it lost an additional 177,932,898.49 lei. In this second situation, DNA prosecutors claim that the losses occurred with the help of Graţiela Iordache and Livia Bădescu: "The two deliberately signed an address of counseling and assistance to the customs authorities, namely to the National Customs Authority (ANV) of the National Tax Administration, the effect of which was that the transfer of ownership of the raw tobacco of < Galaxy Tobacco > to SC CTS SRL (by declaring that the contract signed between the two parties was a matter of civil law). The address in question was binding, and the bodies of the National Customs authority applied it by allowing the 871.2 tons of tobacco to leave Romania without levying excises and VAT on them.

Prior to the issuing of this address, the National Customs Authority had expressed an opposite opinion".

In order to recover the prejudice, all the movable and immovable assets of defendants Duţă Vasile, Celestini Antonello and "Galaxy Tobacco" were frozen. The case is on trial at the Court of Bucharest.

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