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THE HIDROELECTRICA CASE Ioan Mihăilă, the first president of the Bucharest Stock Exchange, arrested for offering bribe

A.Z. (Translated by Cosmin Ghidoveanu)
Ziarul BURSA #English Section /

Remus Vulpescu did not tolerate corruption.

Remus Vulpescu did not tolerate corruption.

The administrator of Energon Power&Gas, a partner in several businesses with the son of Virgil Ardelean, the "fox" from Military Unit 0215 

The whistleblower - Remus Vulpescu

The Court of Bucharest yesterday decided to take into preventive custody for 29 days Ioan Mihăilă (member of the Supervisory Board of Hidroelectrica and advisor to Minister Delegate for Energy Constantin Niţă) and of Eugen Brădean (head of trading at Hidroelectrica).Ioan Mihăilă is being charged with offering bribes, and Eugen Brădean, with complicity in taking bribes and in offering bribes, according to the National Anticorruption Department (DNA). Both were dismissed from their respective positions they held at Hidroelectrica. Of course, the Minister Delegate for Energy has also relinquished the services of Mihăilă. The name of minister Constantin Niţă appears in the transcripts made public yesterday.

Judicial sources also said that Remus Vulpescu, the chief of cabinet of the Minister of Finance, Daniel Chiţoiu, was the whistleblower in this case, in which he was being offered a bribe for an energy supply contract of almost 263 million Euros between Hidroelectrica and Energon Power&Gas SRL.

It would seem that Ioan Mihăilă hasn't forgotten his old habits. He was the first president of the Committee of the Bucharest Stock Exchange (BVB), between 1995-1997 and he stepped down from this position after his involvement in the Bankcoop scandal, having been pursued by the police for a while.

In the CV posted on the website of Hidroelectrica, Mihăilă writes that between 1995-1998 "he was one of the pioneers of the local stock market by creating the BSE, the National Association of Securities Firms, the Rasdaq and the Romanian Securities Institute.

The resume of Ioan Mihăilă does not mention the position of Chairman of the Board which he held at Bankcoop.

The newspapers in the Oltenia region wrote that Ioan Mihăilă is a controversial character, who, after the row sparked by the default of Bankcoop, was hunted by the authorities, and spent years abroad. Some say that he was involved in real estate businesses in the US and Brazil. In his resume, Mihăilă states that prior to 1989, he worked as construction site supervisor at the Turnu Hydroelectric Plant, then at the former Industrial Central Office for Electrical Grids, from where he was fired for "political reasons". He then worked as a head of construction yard in the Hydroenergy Construction Trust (TCH). In his résumé, Ioan Mihăilă also writes that between 2002 and 2013 he has "developed real estate projects and provided consulting in that area in Romania and abroad".

The press in the Oltenia region also wrote that Mihăilă's son, who is also named Ioan Mihăilă and is a deputy of the ARD, the only parliamentarian from the Romanian Christian Democrat Peasant's Party (PNŢCD). Mihăilă Jr. was the head of the Investment Department for Investments in the Ministry of Regional Development and Tourism (MDRT), led by Elena Udrea.

Brădean was in charge of monitoring the privatization contracts of the branches of Electrica

Between June 2008 and June 2013, Eugen Brădean held the position of head of corporate affairs at Electrica SA, handling the monitoring of the privatization contracts of the branches of Electrica. It would seem he did such a good job that the reports of the Romanian Court of Auditors revealed increasing problems with the company from one year to the next. This is why Electrica now has ongoing lawsuits with Enel, CEZ and E.ON in the Court of Arbitrage of Paris, for the failure to comply with the privatization contracts.

At Electrica SA there are voices claiming that Brădean was let go from the company and hired at Hidroelectrica by the team of Minister Niţă, and also that the company is concerned over its chances of winning the lawsuits it filed. The same sources are saying that Eugen Brădean unsuccessfully ran last year for a management position with the CNVM.

Eugen Brădean and Ioan Mihăilă were detained on Wednesday by the National Anticorruption Department (DNA), in a case of bribes concerning the sale of energy worth almost 263 million Euros. According to the investigators, in October, Ioan Mihăilă, in his position of member of the Supervisory Board of Hidroelectrica SA and advisor to the delegated minister of Energy, promised to another member of the same Board, who is the whistleblower in this case, 1.4 million euros in exchange for voting in favor of the conclusion by Hidroelectrica of 4-year bilateral contract for the sale of electricity to a certain Romanian company, for 7,012,800 MWh (1,157,112,000 lei, approximately 262,980,000 Euros), terms which were unfavorable for Hidroelectrica.

"The promise of offering bribes was made with the help of defendant Brădean Eugen, head of trading at Hidrolectrica SA. The promised bribe would be dissimulated using a commission contract which would have been concluded between an offshore company and the buyer of the electricity", the DNA also said in a press release.

The company which was supposed to buy 7 TWh from Hidroelectrica over the next four years is energy trader Energon Power&Gas of Cluj Napoca. The company is controlled by businessman Rareş Criste, according to the local press.

Alin Ardelean, the son of Virgil Ardelean, the former head of the DGIPI (The intelligence and Intenal Protection Department of the Ministry for Internal Affairs), nicknamed "The Fox", is a partner of Rareş Criste in several businesses.

According to "Gazeta de Bistriţa" (ed. note: "The Bistriţa Gazette), in 2005 Rareş Criste went into business through Premier Construct and, in parallel, through Ten Transilvania Energy, Inc. At Premier Construct, Criste only stayed for one year, and at Ten Transilvania Energy he did business for five years. In the latter, Criste held control together with Alin Ardelean, the son of Virgil Ardelean, and Sorin Piciu, who was involved in energy businesses. Ten Transilvania Energy has contracts with the plants of Turceni and Rovinari, which it buys energy from to resell it, according to hotnews.ro. Criste has also been a shareholder in SC Amgaz Furnizare, a company involved in large scale business with state owned companies Romgaz and Distrigaz, which manage part of the natural gas in Romania. One of Criste's partners is Teofil Mureşan of Cluj who currently controls Ten Transilvania Energy through Electrogrup.

Other directors of Hidroelectrica will also be fired in the session of the Supervisory Board which will take place on Monday, but until then, they are expected to hand in their resignations of honor, Remus Borza, the president of the Supervisory Board said. The Supervisory Board has fired Eugen Brădean, the head of the energy supply department in the Thursday session, and Ovidiu Agliceru, the head of the Internal Audit Department, according to Agerpres.

"We have dismissed Agliceru because, in the October 22nd meeting, he abstained from voting against the signing of a contract with Energon Power & Gas. He was supposed to vote against it, not abstain. The Board members of Hidroelectrica have not been put there to abstain, but to make decisions", Mr. Borza also said.

According to the quoted source, more directors will be dismissed. When asked for their names, Borza replied: "All in due time. They know who they are, the ones from the gang of Mihăilă. Those who were brought in by their friends, will go away. We do serious work here, I won't accept having thieves within Hidroelectrica. We are awaiting for their resignations of honor this week-end".

Aside from Brădean and Agliceru, the Directorate of the Company also includes Mihail Stănculescu, the chairman of the Directorate, Aurel-Lucian Cocoş and Mihai Teleanu.

Last night, rumors were circulating within the USL that the position of minister Constantin Niţă had become extremely shaky, after the central media published the transcriptions of the wiretaps, in which Eugen Brădean was telling Remus Vulpescu that the amount of the bribe offered in exchange for the cheap energy would reach "three-four people" and he believed that aside from those, it could also reach minister Constantin Niţă, as well as one of the "blue-eyed boys", an euphemism for the Romanian intelligence services.

The prosecutors of the National Anti-Corruption Department (DNA) note, in their summary judgment stipulating the decision of taking into preventive custody of Eugen Brădean and Ioan Mihăilă, that the former met Vulpescu in a restaurant and on that occasion "reiterated", the offer to pay him "700,000-800,000 Euros" in exchange for facilitating the conclusion of contracts for the sale of cheap energy by Hidroelectrica, Mediafax reports.

"In the meeting of October 11th, which took place between 15:25 - 16:40 within the Barbizon restaurant of the World Trade Center - Pullman complex, defendant Brădean Eugen once again offered a 700,000 - 800,000 Euros bribe to Vulpescu Dumitru Remus in exchange for facilitating the signing of long-term bilateral contracts by Hidroelectrica", the prosecutors state, according to Mediafax.

"In the same discussion, Brădean Eugen, in order to prove the seriousness of the offer, accepted giving Vulpescu Dumitru Remus a downpayment of 20 %, approximately 200,000 Euros, as he was willing to negotiate a more substantial downpayment with the company offering the bribe, of 35%", the investigators also say.

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