Businessman Sorin Ovidiu Vintu, Petrom union leader Liviu Luca and eight others yesterday went before the Court of Appeals, which heard their appeals against a Bucharest Tribunal ruling to place them under preventive arrest for 29 days. After hearing the prosecution and the defence, the Court of Appeals’ panel withdrew to adopt a decision.
Vintu, Luca and eight others were taken under preventive arrest last week, on charges of money laundering and misappropriation for their role in the bankruptcy of company Petrom Service.
In his plea to the court, Vintu denied all the accusations against him and warned that he would have to “take the law in my own hands” if the court decided to keep him under arrest, according to Mediafax. Vintu insisted that he never took any money from Petrom Service and that the company went bankrupt as a consequence of the over 18,000 labour litigations started by employees.
“Petrom Service was bankrupted by its own employees, who were advised by their lawyers to speculate an irregularity in the collective labour agreement and who initiated thousands of lawsuits against the company. In order to defend itself, Petrom Service looked for the legal path but it was too late because the salary rights granted [to employees] were bigger than the company’s capital,” Vintu told magistrates yesterday.
Investigators allege that Petrom Service, currently known as PSV Company, was bankrupted intentionally by the suspects, who transferred money from the firm through offshore companies set up by some of the shareholders, to the disadvantage of other shareholders in Petrom Service. Moreover, prosecutors say Luca, instructed by Vintu, used his influence and his management position with the company to make it buy overvalued services and shares in other firms.
Vintu on the other hand insisted yesterday that prosecutors did not produce proper evidence in the case, making a big confusion between how a large package of shares is transacted on the stock exchange and how a small number of shares is listed. He criticised the fact that investigators ordered no accounting expertise in the case and underlined that the main reason behind the case and the arrests made was him. “I am the one who’s hunted down,” he said, quoted by HotNews.
In his turn, Luca said he had no reason to conduct the financial operations described by prosecutors because he was already cashing dividends from Petrom Service. Earlier in the day, Luca’s defence attorney had issued a similar argument, saying that his client cannot be guilty of the charges since he owns a very small package of shares and it was against his interest to see the company facing insolvency.