"The Romanian people drink champagne through their representatives"

Radu Soviani
English Section / 5 ianuarie

"The Romanian people drink champagne through their representatives"

Versiunea în limba română

(Those who share, take their share / The untold story of mass privatization)

Interview with MAKE, the general manager of BURSA newspaper -

An interview with MAKE is an opportunity, no matter how you look at it. As a journalist, I've had the chance for a video interview with the founder of Bursa newspaper only twice, a man who has seen and experienced it all. The first interview, eight years ago (2015), when BURSA newspaper celebrated its 25th anniversary, and the second now, in the context of the untold story of mass privatization - Those who share, take their share, a project initiated together with BURSA newspaper and the Association of Investors in Financial Investment Companies (AISIF).

MAKE has seen it all and lived it all. In the interview, he reveals unknown or deliberately forgotten aspects of the mass privatization process and evaluates its outcome. He talks about how the "capital market joint" of investment funds "broke forever" after all the misfortunes that took place under the watchful eye of regulators, depleting the savings of citizens and amplifying the prosperity of "brilliant minds." "From the beginning, since mass privatization was organized, there were "brilliant minds' who wanted to confiscate the FPPs (which turned into SIFs)," says MAKE.

However, during the interview (and afterward), I did not get the impression that MAKE believes those who have plundered the population, either through mutual funds or by looting and appropriating the assets of the SIFs (Financial Investment Companies), which represented a significant portion of the 30 percent of the economy that was the "bone" thrown by the state to the true owners, the population of Romania. "This complex of relationships probably has tentacles in politics. It can't be explained otherwise. In "institutions,' in justice, and maybe even in security. In the SRI (Romanian Intelligence Service). It's probably a tangle larger than I know. I can feel it," says MAKE. "Let's say he's a good boy," MAKE recalls the conversation with the junior member of the Drăgoi family, who came to control three out of the five financial investment companies (SIF1, SIF4, and SIF5), a discussion in which the junior confesses his opinion about the one who should have supervised him. And sanctioned him: "When you see that the "Cooperative' made up of the Leadership of SIF Banat Crişana, SIF Muntenia, SIF Oltenia, ASF (Financial Supervisory Authority) - ultimately, even the leadership of the BVB (Bucharest Stock Exchange) does not distance itself - when you start to see that this is a drop of ink fallen on a wet sheet of paper and spreading, then you begin to assume. Politically. SRI. "Police. Judiciary.' Otherwise, it cannot be sustained."

The project "Those who share, take their share" continues. Weekly, the BURSA newspaper brings to its readers things that have not been said until now by decision-makers, observers, analysts, individuals involved (and not only), to better understand the phenomenon of privatization, more than 30 years after the moment when the "wealth of all" was distributed to everyone but ended up mainly "only to some." As MAKE says, "The Romanian people drink champagne through their representatives."

Radu Soviani

Radu Soviani: You say that the grand privatization program should actually be called the grand nationalization program. Why is that?

MAKE: According to the communist constitution, all industry and all material means of production, all means of production, were recorded as the property of the entire people, not the state. So, during the so-called privatization, there was a 100% nationalization of what belonged to the people, and then a bone of 30% was thrown to the true owners. The state took 70% to have something to sell and sell it as it pleased. This is the formula through which, in the communist sense, the people were plundered.

Radu Soviani: Since the "90s, a portion of 70% was cut off from the hundred percent, leaving only 30%.

MAKE: Yes. This is something I heard, not my own thought, but I agreed with it. There was an old liberal politician who has passed away, but it's true. That's how we begin.

Radu Soviani: How does it sound to you, after this confiscation of 70%, the coupon and the million, the slogan in the "90s? What happened to it?

MAKE: There were two phases. First, the property certificates, which did not have their nominal value written on them...

Radu Soviani: They didn't have names. They were the 25,000 lei ones.

MAKE: On the one hand, they were anonymous, and on the other hand, neither the value was inscribed. There were privatization points, and you had a booklet of property certificates, five property certificates for each FPP (Private Ownership Fund), a fund of private property. It was assumed that, since it was about a million, then each one was, I'm not sure exactly, 20,000, 25,000 lei, but the trading value of these booklets of property certificates started from around 2000 lei.

Radu Soviani: Later, those shareholder certificates of 975,000 lei, together with the 25,000 lei coupon, were defended.

MAKE: Yes, that was done in 1995, in a program that had been studied, I believe, by a Japanese consultancy and in which Mişu Negriţoiu had participated. The change from property certificates to privatization coupons was made for a political reason. Because the property certificates had concentrated in certain points, I think Patriciu and maybe Dan Voiculescu, also Sorin Ovidiu Vântu. So, to avoid privatization to these individuals, they changed the privatization instrument to the privatization coupon, keeping the property certificates at the value of 25,000 lei and the rest up to a million.

Radu Soviani: And that's how Romania ended up initially having 18 million shareholders. The figures they provided through the media at the time were 18.75 million shareholders.

MAKE: I believe there were about 16 million. It must also be said that this is a program initiated by the PSD (Social Democratic Party), a party that has always considered itself to be social democratic, and at that time, it wanted the wealth it privatized not to concentrate in strong hands and to remain dispersed.

Radu Soviani: Now, after 30 years, are you firmly convinced that this was the intention back then?

MAKE: Yes. This is clear. And the change from property certificates to privatization coupons did not necessarily have as its motivation hatred towards Patriciu, Sorin Ovidiu Vântu, and Dan Voiculescu, but rather this political intention for wealth to be distributed to as many people as possible.

Radu Soviani: Out of 16-18 million shareholders, millions have never shown any interest in their holdings. How do you see this?

MAKE: They could not be monetized. Why? Because the doctrine, let's call it official, launched by the CNVM (National Securities Commission) at that time was that trading property certificates and privatization coupons was not allowed, but since the coupons were nominative, they could not be easily traded from hand to hand. Property certificates, as the law stated, were traded through simple tradition. The CNVM spread the doctrine that trading property certificates was illegal.

Radu Soviani: Even the regulator.

MAKE: Yes, even though Law 52, as well as Law 54 of the capital market from 1994, provided for the legality of these transactions. It should not surprise us that the regulator behaved in this way because subsequent tradition showed that the regulator despises the law.

Radu Soviani: So, the same thing is happening now?

MAKE: Yes. It has been continuous, regardless of the president, this institution has behaved only as a lover of illegality. That's ASF (Financial Supervisory Authority), CNVM. CNVM issued a different law than the one in the Official Gazette. Your questions are largely complacency because you know as well as I do. But I don't know if you remember that CNVM distributed a free yellow manual in the market with laws, regulations, and so on. Well, the law in that yellow manual, I think it was in 1996, was amended by CNVM without any approval.

Radu Soviani: It was different from what was in the Official Gazette.

MAKE: Completely, in key points. CNVM did not have so much expertise. The experts from USAID, who were here since 1995, invited by Văcăroiu under the initiative of Ştefan Boboc, the then president of CNVM, made it. In the fall of 1995, they came here, studied the legislation, we had three long meetings with them, they behaved aggressively towards me, and they even threatened me with imprisonment.

Radu Soviani: As a journalist?

MAKE: I was the element opposing their illegalities.

Radu Soviani: This is the period when Caritas, SAFI, FNI developed and later grew...

MAKE: Caritas started in 1993. It was somehow contemporary with the first privatization pilot; there were four companies, I believe something from Orăştie - Blănuri Orăştie, maybe Bere Ursus, if I'm not mistaken, and two more. Then, I think after a year, there was a more massive pilot program, 125 companies were privatized through MEBO (Mass Employee Buyout), and that's when Vîntu made money. Because he was the vacuum cleaner for property certificates and had a clientele of the managers of the privatized companies. He had the market assured, so to speak; he just needed the collection system, the vacuum cleaner. And he set it up. The mass privatization program, in 1996, I think. Yes. Because in 1996, at the end of the year, in October, the Rasdaq market started, based on these 6000 privatized companies. By the way, the list of the 6000 privatized companies was drawn up in the ministry of Mircea Coşea, as the Minister of Reform. I remember that after the list of these companies, the list of the 6000 companies, was drawn up, from Coşea's cabinet to the typing room, about 150 companies jumped off the list. In the hallway.

Radu Soviani: They simply disappeared. How?

MAKE: I don't know! They were erased! I checked the list at that time. There were companies with the wrong address. They were not at that address. There were companies that were not named like that. There were companies that did not exist. Companies where the share capital had no connection to reality. So, at that time, I exclaimed in an article in the newspaper, "Guys, how do you calculate the gross domestic product? How do you manage? Since you don't even know what we have!" So, the grand privatization is largely a grand chaos. It's chaos that might characterize us because at that time, we descended from communism, and we somehow have the impression that things were better organized in communism. No. They weren't. There were false reports at various levels, up to Ceauşescu, who issued a decision, and God have mercy. It was fulfilled on paper.

Radu Soviani: Among the companies where the coupon could be used, the former FPPs (Private Ownership Funds), the current SIFs (Financial Investment Companies), stood out. How have you seen their evolution over time, how have you seen the lifelong leaderships there, how do you see their development?

MAKE: They held significant portions of what had been privatized.

Radu Soviani: About 30% of the economy initially.

MAKE: No. They gave 30% to everyone through the companies they privatized, and the FPPs had a part of this 30%. At least that's how I remember it. From the beginning, when they were organized, there were brilliant minds that wanted to confiscate them. Because they had significant parts of the economy. These brilliant minds thought they could buy the shares of these FPPs, which would later transform into SIFs, and then sell them off piece by piece. Multiplying the value from around, I think the calculation was made, 30 million dollars, not 300 million dollars, but 30 million, the calculation was made that you could reach 300 million by selling like that.

Radu Soviani: By taking majority ownership.

MAKE: Taking the majority through shares.

Radu Soviani: And selling in pieces, as was done with Timpuri Noi, Excelent, etc.

MAKE: Yes. And then the PSD regulations appeared, which aimed to ensure that what was given to the masses remained with the masses; limitations on ownership in SIFs appeared.

Radu Soviani: The thresholds. The famous ones.

MAKE: The thresholds. 0.1, then 1, then 5%, and then nothing.

Radu Soviani: In practice, you could never change the leadership of the SIF...

MAKE: Yes. That was the downside. Because the presidents of the SIFs elected at the beginning, some not exactly at the beginning, some came after two years, like Cuzman, they were entrenched, and the shareholders could never gather in a stadium and vote. Because, in reality, the shareholders of the SIFs, of each SIF, millions, all 16 million citizens, received shares in the FPPs and became shareholders in the SIFs with four shares, six shares, 30 shares in SIF Muntenia. There is an algorithm for the shares that remained, as remnants, for each one.

Radu Soviani: And so, everyone ended up having a larger or smaller stake in the SIFs.

MAKE: 40 shares is nothing, actually. When CNVM established that trading property certificates was illegal or gray or something like that, people started to avoid it, and under American consultancy, a market was conceived, which would not be on the street corner, not with the "gypsies" - that was the word used at that time - but through brokerage firms. In a country like Romania, which was the last in terms of computerization, to dematerialize shares as requested and to trade them through the computer system, which does not exist, means to obstruct access to the market. So the first thing that was done was: citizens do not have access to the market.

Radu Soviani: Deliberate or a fantastic mistake?

MAKE: Americans didn't know anything else. They came with an American model, which was applied in the 1970s in the United States when trucks collided with shares in the city, and they couldn't count the shares in time. They didn't have enough people to count the shares every day, the ones that were being traded. And they introduced dematerialization and trading through brokers so that there was no need to physically handle the shares; they were stored in a depot and didn't move physically. This led to an enormous multiplication; the New York stock market exploded. It's important to note that this improvement came after a "success" crisis. Success brought this crisis, and the subsequent measure adopted made the market grow even more. However, coming up with such a market design in Romania only meant to strangle it. People were coming from communism.

Radu Soviani: They had shares in the drawer, in the wardrobe...

MAKE: On the one hand. On the other hand, our entire mentality was accustomed to the separation between ownership and free disposal. The working people were the owners of the means of production, but they couldn't take them home. So ownership did not come with free disposal.

Radu Soviani: In practice, the thresholds, initially 0.1, later increasing, the dispersed ownership, allowed leadership for life up to a point. After that, historical leadership changed...

MAKE: The former presidents of the SIFs did not die.

Radu Sovinai: None of them. Very few went to prison; most are doing well.

MAKE: Yes, well, Bîlteanu, Lakis...

Radu Soviani: We come to the Bîlteanu-Lakis period. How did we get there?

MAKE: Well, first they removed Cuzman. He led SIF Banat-Crişana for 18 years, and it wouldn't be said that someone was dissatisfied. He paid handsome dividends. Something that did not happen after Bîlteanu. Bîlteanu came and said, "we cannot continue this policy of huge dividends in the long run." And he started selling Azuga, buying Azuga Turism with the SIF's money. To make about 14-15 million euros disappear.

Radu Soviani: From the SIF's money?

MAKE: Yes, at least that's what was said, after which it was said that there was no damage to the SIF.

Radu Soviani: Were they convicted?

MAKE: Yes, Bogdan Drăgoi said it was audited, and there was no damage to the SIF. That was his public statement at the BURSA Conference when I was also on the panel. In 2014, they arrested Bîlteanu; they also arrested the current Lakis, who continues to operate in the capital market in an extremely strange way.

Radu Soviani: Why strange?

MAKE: Well, when you're convicted of market manipulation with a suspended sentence, how are you allowed to continue holding a position in the capital market?

Radu Soviani: ASF allows it.

MAKE: He didn't even consider it. A convict? He's convicted, in office, in the capital market. When Eugen Voicu - Certinvest was found doing shady things at CERTINVEST, he was suspended from activity in the capital market for five years.

Radu Soviani: Without a final conviction decision...

MAKE: He was suspended for five years. On the other hand, Lakis is like a litmus test for what ASF is. You immerse ASF in Lakis, and it turns red, and it shows. Sir.... How do you allow it? How do you allow him to continue in this position? Advisor to the President of SIF Banat Crişana when he is convicted and serving his sentence?

Radu Soviani: Is Lakis the transition between the Bîlteanu period and Drăgoi? How do you explain that he remained after being convicted?

MAKE: Well, maybe this is a period Lakis is continuing.

Radu Soviani: So, Lakis would be in charge?

MAKE: It could be, we don't know. Maybe he is, maybe he isn't, maybe it's Dan Drăgoi, Bogdan Drăgoi's father, in control. We don't know. There are mysteries. If I go by the lawsuits filed against me, both from COMVEX and SIF Banat Crişana, then I think maybe Dan Drăgoi is the boss.

Radu Soviani: COMVEX, where officially the shareholder is Dan Drăgoi's wife.

MAKE: Yes. And mainly Dan Drăgoi.

Radu Soviani: And SIF Banat-Crişana led by Dan Drăgoi's son, Bogdan Drăgoi.

MAKE: Yes, with the same methods.

Radu Soviani: So, both entities linked to Dan Drăgoi sued you...

MAKE: Simultaneously. It's interesting that I haven't written anything about Bogdan Drăgoi for a while. After about a year and a half, he woke up to sue me. Regarding the other one, COMVEX, I haven't written anything. What? What's going on? Well, we'll see.

Radu Soviani: What does your experience in the capital market say after all this time? How does it happen? Who has the ability to control such an entity?

MAKE: I don't know, honestly. What I observe is that the Financial Supervisory Authority (ASF) is complicit. ASF supports both Bogdan Drăgoi and Dan Drăgoi.

Radu Soviani: Including Dan Drăgoi? In the COMVEX story?

MAKE: Well, yes, in the COMVEX story, where there is a clear conflict. The method of diluting the shareholding in favor of Dan Drăgoi, I don't know the name of the other one who sued me...

Radu Soviani: Panait?

MAKE: Yes, Panait. I repeat, I haven't written about them. I don't remember. So, the methods of diluting the shareholding used by Dan Drăgoi are also used by Bogdan Drăgoi. Now, probably, the methods within SIF are not the monopoly of the Drăgoi family. They are devised by Bîlteanu and Lakis as well: offshore companies, holding companies, holding companies located in OFFSHOREs, like SIFI - Real Estate. Is that in an offshore and listed? I don't know, is it normal to have an offshore where the SIF is a shareholder? And is that offshore listed on the stock exchange? And it's not listed on the main market; it's on AERO, where the regulations are said to be lax, but not even those lax regulations are adhered to by SIFI Real Estate? Is it listed without complying with the regulations? Really weak regulations.

Radu Soviani: Because you mentioned SIFI, from the accumulated information, I found out that one of the supervisory officials from ASF, Ciprian Copariu, left ASF in a context where there was an investigation regarding favoring SIFI by himself. That investigation was not finalized; he left before. The question is, what do you think about the supervisor leaving for SIF4, controlled by SIF1, and then subsequently going to SIF5? The supervisor.

MAKE: It's not an exception.

Radu Soviani: But right away? Isn't there a transition period?

MAKE: It's not even a purely Romanian gesture. I think something like this was done by an American ambassador who became a board member.

Radu Soviani: As an American ambassador, Gittenstein did not oversee Fondul Proprietatea or Franklin Templeton.

MAKE: No, but...

Radu Soviani: After finishing his diplomatic term, he joined the Board of Directors of Fondul Proprietatea. He was not overseeing.

MAKE: I believe there is a law in the USA against what was done with Copariu.

Radu Soviani: A period "of" in which you can't enter the industry...

MAKE: I would be more radical, not to be able to ever. Well, at least for a period. Not to be rewarded for what he did as a supervisor by the one who was favored. Here it was done openly.

Radu Soviani: Where does so much courage come from? Openly?

MAKE: Is it courage or audacity? In my opinion, it's audacity and lack of imagination.

Radu Soviani: Going back to Bogdan Drăgoi, how did Bogdan Drăgoi become the president of SIF1 after the Bîlteanu-Lakis period, with El-Lakis as an advisor? How did Bogdan Drăgoi emerge?

MAKE: Without political support. That's what he said. Yes, it's true that I was an advisor to Băsescu, yes, it's true that I was the Minister of Finance, but when I came to SIF, I came without any political support.

Radu Soviani: Did he ever tell you? Did he see that the CEO position was vacant and submitted his CV?

MAKE: I know him, but we haven't had discussions, maybe once or twice. The only remarkable thing he told me was when I didn't know Grădinescu, the former vice president of ASF. I asked him: "Is Grădinescu competent? Because I invited him to conferences." He laughed and said, "Let's say he's a good guy." It's fine. It may not mean anything. But we, dealing with the capital market every day, know that Grădinescu has competence issues.

Radu Soviani: So, Drăgoi saying he came without political support means he had a different kind of support. Were he voted by the shareholders?

MAKE: I caught Drăgoi, and I even wrote in the newspaper, I caught him with lies in official documents, in reports submitted to BVB, ASF, and the market. To say that there were no major differences between the net asset value at SIF Banat Crişana, to say that there is not a significant difference in value between the net asset value calculated with SIFI and without SIFI in some period, to say this in a report, and when you calculate what the difference is, it's 300 million euros?

Radu Soviani: The difference.

MAKE: The difference. "It's not a big difference." There were only 300 million euros. That's a lie in public documents. How can I believe him when he says anything? It's like Lavrov saying, "We do not intend to attack any other country, and we haven't attacked Ukraine either."

Radu Soviani: The Drăgoi-El Lakis team replaces the Bîlteanu-El Lakis team. Bîlteanu-El Lakis was convicted for embezzling SIFs through Azuga Turism, Romenergo, and so on. The El-Lakis-Drăgoi team gives money from the assets of SIF1 instead of distributing it as dividends to shareholders, to investment funds, for a commission of 2-12%. These funds then buy shares in SIF1. Those who study the capital market have said that this is an illegal way to buy voting rights, so that those shares are not used to vote for a potential change in management. How do you see this?

MAKE: Well, you explained it very well. What more can I see beyond that?

Radu Soviani: The fact that the same recipe is being repeated. A recipe we had through the conviction of Bîlteanu-El Lakis, but this time through investment funds.

MAKE: Yes. Once again, their lack of imagination characterizes them. They don't have much fantasy when it comes to embezzlement and manipulation. That's the thing. They don't invest. When they make investments, they invest in Blue Air bonds. Or they borrow from Blue Air, and then Drăgoi stands at the government's gate - please help Blue Air so that they can give me the money back. And a whole thing with the European Union allowing the government to help Blue Air and who knows what, and finally, he gets his money back. That's the type of management. Great management. The rest is financing shell funds to buy shares and vote in the GMA to keep him in power. In the GMA, he not only votes for himself to stay. To remain the president is a big deal... The world honors you - "Good day, Mr. President!" But did you see an article in BURSA that says he received 4 million lei...

Radu Soviani: Up to one million euros annually.

MAKE: Yes.

Radu Soviani: Year after year.

MAKE: A reward... Brother... To do nothing! To not distribute dividends...

Radu Soviani: I saw a graph in the BURSA newspaper showing the evolution of the BET index during the growth period and the evolution of SIF1. For a million euros per year, it shows a divergent evolution.

MAKE: I don't have an obsession with Bogdan Drăgoi or SIF Banat-Crişana. I have more beautiful things to think about, research, and so on. But I was struck by this blatant behavior that is not sanctioned and is supported by ASF.

Radu Soviani: You said complicit.

MAKE: Yes, it's supported, and support means complicity.

Radu Soviani: Through inaction and possibly through actions.

MAKE: Through actions. The removal of Ciurezu could not have happened without strong support from ASF and Nicu Marcu. Nicu Marcu rushes to help Bogdan Drăgoi as soon as I prove in the newspaper that he manipulates the net asset value, he rushes and issues a regulation that is not necessary because Bogdan Drăgoi could have avoided inflating the net asset value; he issues a regulation to give Bogdan Drăgoi an exit. That's complicity, and I can prove it anytime, in court.

Radu Soviani: Based on inflating the net asset value, he gets higher bonuses, buys back shares from the market with which they are paid as management.

MAKE: That didn't hold. Because Ziarul BURSA reacted immediately. As soon as we noticed what he was doing, we started publishing in the newspaper. He tried again, probably has a strategy like, if I ignore, if I don't reply, if I move forward, then the dogs bark, and the caravan moves on.

Radu Soviani: Losing in the medium and long term.

MAKE: I don't know, these things have to end at some point. But probably the web of relationships in which Bogdan Drăgoi finds himself, Lakis, his father, and those around him, the great Swiss as Ben Madadi calls Juravle, and the surrounding investment funds, this web of relationships probably has tentacles in politics. I don't know. I haven't bothered to see, but it can't be explained otherwise. Not audacity, it would be just stupidity. In politics, "in the militia," let me put it that way, in justice, and maybe even in security, in SRI. Probably a more extensive octopus than I know. I sense it. I mean, there are some primitive works, like that bison painted on the walls of the Lescaux or Altamira cave, which are inexplicable. It can't be painted like that, in that form, without having a Shakespeare, a Mozart, some academies around. So at the time that image appeared, there was a complex culture. Similarly, when you see that the "Cooperative" consisting of the Management of SIF Banat Crişana, SIF Muntenia, SIF Oltenia, ASF - in the end, even the BVB management doesn't disown it -, when you begin to see that this is a drop of ink fallen on wet paper and spreading, then you start to assume. Politically. SRI. Militia. Judiciary. Otherwise, it cannot be sustained.

Radu Soviani: Moreover, Nicu Marcu's chief of staff during his presidency at ASF was the deputy director at SRI, General Voinescu, the President of SIF 5, Cioacă, is a former SRI officer. Is there any connection between what the Drăgoi-El Lakis interest group is doing and national security?

MAKE: Maybe.

Radu Soviani: In what sense?

MAKE: In the sense that it might. I presume. I haven't written about such things because I don't have evidence. But now, speaking, of course, we're recording, but for me, it's less than writing. I assume that not all the money coming from SIF goes into the pockets of Lakis and Dan Drăgoi, I believe much less. That's what I think. I have no way of knowing.

Radu Soviani: And trying to close the circle with this conclusion, the assumption you mentioned, the SIFs leave the ownership of the entire people, as you told us at the beginning.

MAKE: That's right. The united, hardworking people.

Radu Soviani: Part of it is nationalized immediately, 70%, by the new democratic government, there remains a proportion of 30%, it goes to the population, and we end up with Bogdan Drăgoi, the Drăgoi interest group.

MAKE: Not immediately.

Radu Soviani: It took 30 years.

MAKE: Yes, because in the meantime, we had the Rasdaq, which only worked to concentrate the shares. From 16 million shareholders, we reached 7 million shareholders in Romania, ignoring those with shares, as Dan Paul called them, "residual." We reached 7 million, then, after 30 years, many have died, inheritances cannot be legalized due to notary taxes exceeding the value of the shares. Trading a coupon of 40 shares costs more than the value of the coupon, so the dormant ones remain deceased.

Radu Soviani: The dividends related to them, if given, remain prescribed after three years, they are never granted.

MAKE: Probably.

Radu Soviani: At the disposal of the Drăgois.

MAKE: Not just them. It's about everyone. So, the organization in this regard is PSD-esque. That's all they knew. They knew how to give to everyone, but they didn't succeed. They didn't have that.

Radu Soviani: Where did they end up instead of everyone?

MAKE: They ended up in powerful hands, as they say. These things were unavoidable, but the reward had to be proportional. Still. In the early years, 1995, when they started the Stock Exchange, probably in November, I began to be shocked by how the stock exchange and trading were conceived. At the end of 1996 and the beginning of 1997 (when the BURSA newspaper signaled), Petrotrans shares were traded. Where were they traded? I think either on Rasdaq or on the Stock Exchange. I believe it was Rasdaq. And I pointed out in the newspaper: "Guys, this enterprise doesn't exist!

"The company was merged into Petrom." When Petrom was established, there were 40 petroleum companies with various business activities and specialties. This one was related to transportation. They merged it into Petrom, but the information didn't reach the public. The mass privatization program was underway, and the managers didn't know about the stock market; they didn't announce it. They were supposed to inform the Securities Registry Office at the CNVM (National Securities Commission). It was the "OEVM" - Securities Registry Office. The capital market was affected.

Radu Soviani: Someone was selling shares in a non-existent company, and someone was buying shares in a non-existent company.

MAKE: Yes, 10,000 shares were traded. And we laughed, we wrote about it. The headline was: "Ghost Shares." They were being traded. I don't know how they arranged that. They covered it up. 10,000 shares, there must have been several hundred coupon holders. How did they disappear? How were they compensated? It was chaos at the beginning of privatization and the capital market. These things - we probably stumbled upon one thread - were multiple.

Radu Soviani: It is absolutely impossible for someone to have monetized/molded the lack of financial education, lack of interest, so that, after a long transition period, a good part of the economy would end up, as you said, in powerful hands...

MAKE: Well, the powerful hands took care of that.

Radu Soviani: From the beginning, could the powerful hands have made a long transition through the large population to end up in their hands?

MAKE: No. I think it was done by seeing and doing. I think it's a step-by-step process, and ideas come to you on the spot. When you are sharp and determined to enrich yourself. Otherwise, people wait to be organized. They are not eager to lead the organization. Moreover, mutual funds, for example, were initiated by proactive individuals. Because they started before the legislation.

Radu Soviani: There were other funds like SAFI in Cluj. You'd see someone on TV saying, "We multiply your money."

MAKE: Yes, that was later. So, there was the first wave of open-end investment funds with SAFI, with Dacia Felix, which later changed its name, Romanian Investment Fund Dacia Felix.

Radu Soviani: That was from Cluj.

MAKE: And later, it was renamed just Romanian Investment Fund, to avoid mentioning Dacia Felix, because Dacia Felix had become a burden in itself.

Radu Soviani: And it merged with another bank, Unicredit, I think, which was not yet active in Romania at that time.

MAKE: And, as far as I know, the head of administration at Dacia Felix was the one interested in changing the formula for calculating the net asset value.

Radu Soviani: There was a big scandal then...

MAKE: Well, there was, on March 28, 1996, on a Friday, the net asset value at Dacia Felix dropped by 40%, at Certinvest by 30%, at ARDAF by 30%, and ARDAF shouldn't have fallen because it was a fund invested only in bank deposits. However, due to the modification of the net asset value calculation, the method of calculating the net asset value recommended by Fletcher Hodge, an elderly man from USAID who collected old maps, like Adrian Năstase, and who knows how much he understood, but he didn't assess the consequences and followed his impulses. So, he recommended changing the calculation of the net asset value, which Ştefan Boboc eagerly implemented at the suggestion of Sorin Dan.

Radu Soviani: Sorin Dan was from the Romanian Investment Fund...

MAKE: Yes. And Emil Botea was also there, with Banca Populară Română.

Radu Soviani: That Emil Botea.

MAKE: That Emil Botea. Usually, I don't have that memory. Now I remember the day. I remember the day FMOA collapsed. It fell by 47% on April 24, 1996. SAFI fell almost a month after the other funds. Danielescu hoped that by maintaining its value, he would attract investors from the other funds, and they would come to him. He was pressured by Vladimir Cojocaru. Extraordinary!

Radu Soviani: CNVM, Vladimir Cojocaru?

MAKE: He was pressured by Vladimir Cojocaru with three letters to collapse the net asset value, and he couldn't resist the third one. He did it. Dan Constantinescu, later a deputy, came, stayed for a month, and then Cataramă came. Viorel Cataramă. And he further collapsed it by 7%, the net asset value. Before March 28, 1996, the total net asset value of Romanian mutual funds was half the value of mutual funds in Hungary. In the fall of the same year, the ratio was 1 to 52. After another year, the ratio was 1 to 273. The joint of the capital market, which was the mutual funds, those that turned savings into investment capital based on wise decisions made by specialists-where to invest and not only that but by having large values, they also obtained discounts compared to individual investments-this is the joint of the capital market. It makes the capital market develop, creates a layer of domestic investors to become partners with foreign investors and encourage them to come, without causing the market to collapse when they leave.

Radu Soviani: Like a shock absorber. But the joint broke in Romania.

MAKE: The joint was shattered "pour toujours." It hasn't recovered to this day. So, it couldn't. That's the context in which I recommended bearer shares. To avoid going through what you don't have, through investment funds, but to invest directly, as the law says. The idea of dematerialization in a country, as I said, accustomed to the split between free disposition and ownership. So, the Romanian people celebrated through their representatives. We were the owners of the shares, but we didn't have them in our hands. They were dematerialized. This is normal in communism. By the way, this idea is Hitlerist. This is how Hitler conceived the capital market in occupied France. So that he could control the movements of Jewish assets. When France was liberated, they changed Hitler's legislation and returned to bearer shares, as it was before. Then the socialist government changed its mind and said: wait a minute, what Hitler did was reasonable... and they went back to what they learned during the war. So, in Romania, as I wrote in 1995, the capital market made with bearer shares was suitable. You could go and buy cheese with bearer shares. What could be nicer, at 9 in the evening, you go, as long as the grocery store is open, here, I give you a ownership certificate or I give you shares in Orăştie, give me a kilo of cheese. And the seller knows the quotation - the seller knows what the quotation is, and the barber knows it, and the taxi driver.

Radu Soviani: He has it in a notebook.

MAKE: He doesn't have it in a notebook. Because transactions are frequent, and it's easy to exchange them from one to another, like money.

Radu Soviani: Everyone becomes brokers.

MAKE: Everyone knows what the rate is. And there's no need for a central station to display the price. It discovers in the market. At that time, when transactions were made with ownership certificates, I knew half an hour after transactions were made in Cluj, I knew the quantity and price in Bucharest. In Iaşi - I knew in Bucharest. People were super informed, without any information system.

Radu Soviani: These were all my questions. If you have anything else to add on this subject, about the concentrations at SIFs, the influence of the Drăgoi family, the progress of mass privatization?

MAKE: No. What can I tell them? What can I say about it? When I have something to say, I write in the newspaper. I haven't had anything to say for a while. I mean, I've exhausted what I had to say. To repeat? I never do that. I never run campaigns. Romania Liberă had campaigns against Sorin Ovidiu Vîntu, in I don't know what years, where the same articles appeared every two days, only the words were changed. The ideas were the same. I never did that. Once I've exhausted what I had to say, I don't talk anymore. Except in court or in an interview with you. I repeat: I have much better concerns!

Radu Soviani: Thank you!

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