The daily Evenimentul Zilei speculated on what happened behind the scenes of the release of buisnessman Sorin Ovidiu Vantu.
22 Septembrie 2010, 12:21
At first, prosecutors managed to convince the court that, based on their actions, the three displayed criminal perseverance, and therefore have to be taken into custody. The Court of Appeal, however, reversed the decision.
The daily Evenimentul Zilei speculated on what happened behind the scenes of this release, insinuating that the decision was influenced by a female judge whose husband, himself a magistrate, had previously been detained in a high level corruption case.
The daily Adevarul headlines: “You can sleep without worry, Sorin Ovidiu Vantu is free!”, paraphrasing a famous advertising slogan from 10 years ago: “You can sleep without worry, the National Investment Fund is working for you!”, ran the original.
The National Investment Fund collapsed in 2000 when it was exposed as a huge fraud, having ripped off 300,000 Romanians and losing them hundreds of millions of dollars. Sorin Ovidiu Vantu was said to have been behind the scheme, but nothing could be proven, as he did not sign a single document related to that business.
The people found guilty of the National Investment Fund disaster were Ana Maria Vlas, who is still in jail, and Nicolae Popa, currently a fugitive reported as being in Indonesia, whom Vantu allegedly gave money to, in order to bribe his way out of extradition.
Maria Vlas told the Adevarul daily that Popa would have been the one who handled the dirty business of the FNI, and that for that reason Vantu was indebted to him. Popa was arrested in December, and is in the middle of extradition proceedings.
This affair is just as complicated as the biography of Sorin Ovidiu Vantu himself. A powerful businessman, Vantu maintained and pursued ties with former officers of the political police of the communist regime, the Securitate.
By sponsoring politicians and parties, on the one hand, and people in culture and the arts on the other, Vantu managed to protect his businesses and make them more and more profitable, and to build up a positive public image.
His difficult relationship with president Traian Basescu, which turned from sympathy to enmity, as Vantu’s press empire turned increasingly critical of the president, explains, according to analysts and commentators, his sudden arrest.
The editorial in the daily Gandul summarizes in no uncertain terms what everyone seems to believe: “Releasing Vantu after his arrest is the final act in a match of arm wrestling between two titans of the dark underworld of Romanian politics, Basescu and Vantu, both born out of the old world”.
(Radio România Internaţional, Serviciul în limba engleză).