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News 12 Oct 12

Romania Investor Vanishes With Clients’ Millions

The hunt is on for Cristian Sima, who appears to have unexpectedly vanished, taking with him large amounts of his clients' money.

Marian Chiriac
Bucharest

Romanian Police and the Securities Commission, CNVM, on Thursday started investigations following information that Cristian Sima, a leading investor on the capital market, has left the country taking clients’ money with him.

His last known message was on October 1, when he told a friend that his laptop, phone, documents and bank card had been stolen and when he asked them to be blocked. After that, no one has got hold of him.

Media reports say that Sima, owner of WBS Holding brokerage firm, may have taken up to 10 million euro from his clients’ accounts.

Former ministers and businessmen are among those affected by his sudden disappearance.

“It seems that I’ve lost a considerable amount of money,” Daniel Daianu, a former Finance Minister, who is one of WBS Holding’s clients, commented.

WBS Holding, a company which deals with transactions on international markets for its clients, is registered in the Virgin Islands.

The CNVM has told clients who believe they lost money to submit complains, but at the same time it has reminded them that WBS Holding was not under the CNVM’s authority, as it was not an authorized broker in Romania.

Sima was a trusted investor in Romania's small capital market. Besides owning WBS Holding, he was general manager of the Sibiu Stock Exchange – Sibex, the main stock exchange for the derivative market in Romania.

Analysts say that the case will undermine public trust in the Romanian capital market.

“There are only two possible explanations: Sima either lost his clients’ money and left the country, or simply took the money on leaving - but neither explanation is good for the local capital market, where credibility is the main factor for any investor,” financial analyst Cristian Barsan said.

The Romanian capital market is still immature, experts say, mentioning the low capitalization of the stock exchange as well as last year’s fall in the price of most shares listed.

Government plans to use the stock exchange to sell stakes of 10 to 20 per cent in a number of enterprises, mostly in the energy and transport sectors, have been postponed indefinitely.

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