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March 8, 2021
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Jakarta court okays Nicolae Popa extradition

The process can take up to five months, requiring approval from Indonesian Justice Ministry, president.

A court in Jakarta yesterday has ruled as legal the extradition of Romanian businessman Ni­colae Popa, according to ‘Jakarta Globe’ sources quoted by Antena 3. Popa, who was convicted to 15 years imprisonment in absentia in 2006, for defrauding more than 100,000 people in a massive Ponzi scheme and who has been detained in Jakarta for a year, will be deported home during the upcoming months. According to Indonesian journalists, the process can last up to five months as extradition has to be ratified by the Ministry of Justice and then decreed by the Indonesian present. Yesterday’s court ruling was only meant to establish legality of the deportation, as long as Romania and Indonesia haven’t signed an extradition treaty.


Popa was reportedly present in front of Indonesian judges on Wednesday’s court session and claimed he was innocent, a ‘political scheme’s victim’, while his attorney tried to deem extradition as illegal.
The Romanian Foreign Affairs Ministry confirmed the Jakarta court ruling for Agerpres news agency. The ministry also said that Indonesian law does not provide the possibility of appealing against Wednesday’s ruling.


The former Gelsor head, who fled Romania in May 2000, has been detained by Indonesian authorities for a year and was recently hospitalised at the National Police Hospital in East Jakarta suffering from acute
gastritis.


In November this year, the Indonesian national police have received approval from the president and the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights to deport Popa. The request of extraditing Nicola Popa back to Romania was submitted to Indonesian authorities on December 9 last year, seven days after he was detained. Known as the right hand man of businessman Sorin Ovidiu Vantu, Popa was Gelsor Group’s manager and member of the Sov Invest Trust Council, a company that set up the National Investment Fund (FNI) and National Accumulation Fund (FNA). The two funds’ collapse left thousands of people without their savings.


Popa fled Romania in 2000 and has been wanted by the authorities ever since. In 2006, he was sentenced to jail in absentia, alongside Ioana Maria Vlas, former manager of the FNI, who was sentenced to ten years imprisonment. Vlas was released on parole earlier this year.


Vintu, a prominent businessman and wealthy media tycoon, was cleared of all charges in the FNI collapse case. In September this year he was however briefly detained, being charged with aiding and abetting an offender, by allegedly sending money to Popa in Indonesia. Vintu denies any wrongdoing and says the case against him was ordered by President Traian Basescu. The businessman has already been indicted in the case and the trial is ongoing, with the next court hearing scheduled for December 17.

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