Ex-head of Sibiu Exchange and former WBS Romania shareholder is missing without a trace, believed to have fled with the company funds. The list of the alleged victims features a few high-profile figures. The Securities Board has launched an investigation at the brokerage company head office. The case is also in the attention of the Police.
The National Securities Board (CNVM) yesterday launched a probe at the WBS Romania brokerage company following suspicions that ex-shareholder Cristian Sima had allegedly fled with the funds of WBS Holding, Mediafax reports.The investigation into the disappearance of the former head of the Sibiu Exchange is expanding. Several clients of his company came accompanied by solicitors, trying to find out what was happening with their money. Among the victims there are former Justice Minister Catalin Predoiu, ex-Finance Minister Daniel Daianu, Irina Schrotter, Puiu Popoviciu, Marie Rose Mociornita and Tudor Chirila, realitatea.net reports. ‘I am stunned by Sima’s disappearance. I have read in the press that Cristian Sima cannot be found and that he has fled with the clients’ money. I believed in the good faith of people one of whom became the president of Sibex. I have accounts opened with both companies – WBS Romania and WBS Holding – because I was told that was the only way o trade on foreign markets. I have invested because I was reassured the gain would be small, but certain. I knew they were not working on margin and that the risks were small’, Prof. Daianu said. According to a report to Wall-Street.ro by the WBS Holding clients, broker Cristian Sima went missing over ten days ago and trading on international markets has been stopped. Teodor Ancuta, former President and Director of Sibex, does not believe Cristian Sima has run away with the money, but that he lost it in the trading process. He also says in 2011 Sima tried to convince him to give him his Sibex post for EUR 1 M, but he refused.The authorities are now checking the way in which the company operates in relation to its clients as well as the integrity of their accounts. In the context, the stock market overseeing authority recommends WBS Romania clients who believed they have suffered any damages to file complaints with CNVM. ‘At the same time, we note that WBS Holding is not an entity under CNVM’s authority, not being authorised by CNVM to conduct activities on the Romanian stock market’, CNVM states in a release. The Board also notes it will investigate possible links between WBS Holding and WBS Romania in order to protect investors conducting operations on the stock market via WBS Romania. Sibiu Police have also taken action based on latest press reports and are investigating the circumstances of the disappearance of the former head of the Sibiu Exchange. Sibiu County Police spokeswoman Luciana Baltes said Cristian Sima had not been reported missing by Thursday morning either by his family or other persons. Cristian Sima was dismissed as Chairman of the Board and CEO of the Sibiu Stock Exchange on Wednesday. Stock market sources say trading on foreign markets have been operated via WBS Holding, a company owned by Sima and registered in the British Virgin Islands. Another possibility mentioned is that Sima may have lost many clients’ money in high-risk transactions (EUR 5 M according to bursa.ro). Stock market sources said on Wednesday that, on October 1, Sima had e-mailed a Sibiu Stock Exchange director telling him that his laptop, telephone, papers and bank card had been stolen from him and he was asking his colleague to report them as stolen for him. Sibex workers repeatedly tried to contact Sima without success. The same sources say the telephone line at Sima’s residence in Switzerland appears to have been suspended. Sima has gone missing also in the context where the SIFs have agreed to sack him from all his lead position at Sibex and hold him liable for various irregularities. Sibex leadership has been taken over by Paul Gabriel Miclaus and the new CEO is Ovidiu Petru, so far Deputy CEO. The new Sibex Board Chairman, Paul Gabriel Miclaus, said Sima’s dismissal had nothing to do with the latest rumours in the stock market. According to him, Sima has been replaced because he was not present in the institution during the CNVM inspection. Also, asked about this case, Ovidiu Petru said that he believes in his innocence and everything has just been pure-speculations.
The business profile of a controversial broker
Cristian Sima is one of the most controversial people active on the stock market. Holding a Ph.D. in Mathematics and with a few years of practice on the stock markets in Italy, France and London, according to his public CV, Sima was one of the first local investors who set up a brokerage firm dedicated to international markets. WBS Holding, the company Sima founded in 1997, was investing on the international markets as well as on the Forex market at a time when most brokers were focused on the local stock exchange and were busy gathering coupons distributed by Nicolae Vacaroiu in the 1990s, ‘Ziarul Financiar’ states. Sima has also had other businesses. Together with Dan Pascariu – President of UniCredit Tiriac Bank – and with architect Adrian Lustig he was a shareholder in Romfelt Real Estate, the developer of Doamna Ghica Plaza residential complex currently under the control of Estonian investment fund Aktiva. The residential complex was developed on the land of the former felt factory Romfelt in the Obor area in Bucharest, a company that Sima had bought on the stock exchange in 1998. He gave the factory to the employees and kept the land. Cristian Sima also held 9 per cent of the Hotnews.ro news portal, which he sold in September.