The judges of the Bucharest Court of Appeals have decided, early Wednesday morning, to dispose the preventive arrest, for 30 days, of Adrian Sarbu, who is charged in the tax evasion case of the Mediafax Group.
The court’s decision is not definitive.
Adrian Sarbu was remanded in custody on Monday by prosecutors, being charged with committing tax evasion (two counts), money laundering (two counts), and instigation to embezzlement.
The prosecutors of the General Prosecutor’s office claim that at the request of Adrian Sarbu, defendants Liliana Serban, Roxana Dorina Grigoruta, Eugenia Balan (under arrest in a different case), Sorin Dinu, Daniela Reghina Cozac, Rodica Crisbasan and Dragos Chis, together with Diana Atanasiu and Dragos Eremia, have established a crime scheme for the purpose of avoiding tax payments to the state budget, scheme that involved several companies running fictitious operations, in the 2011-2014 interval, in relation to the beneficiaries of royalties of the companies of Mediafax group (SC Mediafax Grup SA, SC Mediafax SA, SC Apropo Media SRL).
Adrian Sarbu owns 87 percent of the shares of SC Alerria Management Company SA, a company who owns 99,41378% of SC Mediafax SA, 95% of the shares SC Apropo Media SRL and 50% of SC Mediafax Group SA (the rest of 50 percent being split equally between SC Mediafax SA and SC Apropo Media SRL).
The prosecutors have shown that although Sarbu did not fill any positions within these companies, it can be said, in fact, that he held control of all companies in the group, “his decisions being imposed as laws would be”.
“In this context, within meetings for company budgets, in which he took part, defendant Sarbu Adrian has stated constantly that he is not willing to pay taxes to the state and showed interest in finding concrete ways of avoiding them, and as such, at the level of the management of companies SC Mediafax Group SA, SC Mediafax SA and SC Apropo Media SRL, a system to elude normal tax payments that would normally go to the state budget was thought out, in this sense it was decided to establish companies in which to transfer the capital, in order to protect him from the legislative system of Romania that imposed the compulsory nature of paying said taxes. The system created did not have as a sole purpose only to avoid payments to the state budget for taxes and dues, but also to further use the sums of money rendered from the crime of tax evasion for the purpose of paying bonuses for the companies’ top level positions and especially for Sarbu Adrian”, say the prosecutors quoted by Agerpres.
The damages done to the state budget clock in at 16,809,964 lei for the crime of tax evasion, at 2.660.000 lei for the crime of embezzlement, with an additional 2,893,607 lei being considered laundered money.
Tax evasion, money laundering and embezzlement charges
The businessman Adrian Sarbu was escorted to the General Prosecutor’s Office in a van yesterday to be questioned in the Mediafax Group tax evasion case. Sarbu was detained for 24 hours Monday night on charges of instigation to tax evasion, money laundering and embezzlement. Several people are also under investigation for tax evasion in the same case.
In a press release of December 2014, the General Prosecutor’s Office said that, by a decision of 23 April 2013, Mediafax Group SA was granted a reschedule of payments over a period of 24 months for overdue fiscal debts amounting to RON 3,949,358.
In this context, the company, its representatives and people from various law firms that approved the legality of the paperwork of the company created and used in a continuous manner a scheme designed to evade the payment of taxes, setting up phantom companies in the name of poor people that were introduced to the commercial circuit made up in that way. SC Mediafax Group SA was protected in that way, the responsibility for paying taxes being transferred to the other companies the accounts and assets of which were frozen, all useless procedures as they owed no assets that could have been sold.
‘The beneficiaries of copyright, a significant part of whom were also hired by companies in the group with individual employment agreements, would be made by HR department sign copyright cession agreements with those companies without ever coming into contact with the lawful representatives and negotiating the terms and conditions of those agreements’, the investigators said.
Sarbu: ‘The Mediafax file, fabricated at the order of Ponta, Ghita and their camarilla’
Adrian Sarbu declared that the Mediafax file aims to destroy the media institutions he had developed for the last 25 years.
“The case Mediafax – Adrian Sarbu was fabricated at the order of Ponta, Ghita and their camarilla, and has the purpose to destroy Mediafax, Gandul, Ziarul Financiar, these media institutions I developed for the last 25 years and worked to maintain their political independence”, Adrian Sarbu mentioned in a declaration published on the website gandul.info.
“The scenario now executed by prosecutors, DGAF and ANAF inspectors as well as police officers specialized in criminal inquiries, all of them passionately supported by SRI, is destined to place under criminal charges persons in the upper-level management of my company based on unproved accusations, their arrest and forcing them, under the pressure of keeping them under arrest, to denounce me as the greatest instigator to tax evasion and money laundering in Romania, as Ponta had suggested on many of his public outbursts for over a year ago. Information in the file is publicly transmitted to various offices supporting the Ponta & Ghita propaganda, officially or under cover, in order to force the decision of judges that must approve the warrant”, Sarbu declared.
He also stated that it was “a typical case of state terrorism on media institutions forced towards bankruptcy or sale to groups of political interests, a case presented to the public, as a glorious action against evasion and money laundering.
“Under these circumstances, my only defence is the obviousness of common sense”
“For the last 25 years, I was granted the chance, power and talent to build private institutions of public status, such as PRO TV, CME, Mediapro, Mediafax and many others, companies that employed dozens of thousands of Romanians and granted them the opportunity of a career. I acted accordingly to the laws of this country, I promoted rigorous principles of corporation management and I never encouraged criminal spirit in my companies. I created generations of professionals. I worked simultaneously with hundreds of managers, delegating, sharing my ideas and my earnings with them. I was the only Romanian who was promoted to the position of CEO of an American public company. I generated a profit of hundreds of millions of dollars for my shareholders and for me. The companies under my control or management paid taxes of hundreds of millions of euro to the Romanian state.
The fact that I ended up as an object of defamation for power-drunk imposters does not impress me. I firmly believe in the Constitutional state, in the freedom of the press, in the rights of any citizen to be defended by the laws but also in the obligation of each citizen to obey the laws. I am the first one to do so. My concern for the moment is to maintain the activity of the company Mediafax, first of all, and to ensure decent working conditions for people under unjust financial or psychical pressure during this vindictive campaign”, businessman Adrian Sarbu concluded.