News 14 Dec 12

Romanian Police Grill 60 in Bank Scandal

Police are investigating a number of businessmen and bank officials allegedly involved in an 85 million euro bank fraud.

Marian Chiriac
Bucharest

Police in Romania investigated around 60 people on Thursday on suspicion of involvement in a forgery and money laudering case involving an estimated loss of 85 million euro.

Police said some well-known real estate investors but also seven bank directors had been involved in illegally granting loans to some 35 companies.

Other bank workers are allegedly involved and four public notaries are also being questioned in the same case for having signed off mortgage guarantee documents.

“A crime group obtained loans despite the beneficiary companies not meeting the bank risk and legal requirements, with mortgages set on real-estate property whose declared value was artificially and illegally inflated,” police said.

This is the latest of several bank corruption cases in Romania. A similar investigation started a month ago in a money-laundering and fraud case involving an estimated loss of 22 million euro. Investigators said that the group obtained or tried to obtain 40 loans from 16 banks using forged documents between 2010 and 2012.

Romania is still considered one of the most corrupt states in the European Union and has made only limited progress in fighting graft and organised crime since it joined the EU in 2007.

The country has faced repeated criticism from the European Commission for its failure to tackle the problem.

But in recent months, the number of investigations and high-ranking officials sentenced for graft has increased significantly.

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