Claiming to be in a preliminary phase before opening an investigation, the National Integrity Agency (ANI) has written to the international network of investigative journalists ICIJ asking for the nominal list of Romanians on whom they have information regarding possible accounts opened with Swiss banks which, under the law, should be disclosed in Romania, ‘Gandul’ states.
RISE Project published the other day information according to which ex-PSD MP Viorel Hrebenciuc had two accounts with the Swiss subsidiary of the British HSBC bank, his wife and son also had access to.
‘Since we are in a preliminary phase of an investigation and considering the data and information in the ‘Banking Giant HSBC Sheltered Murky Cash Linked to Dictators and Arms Dealers’ and ‘Explore the Swiss Leaks Data’ stories, if you have such information, please send to us the nominal list of Romanian citizens on whom there is information suggesting they have accounts opened with the Swiss banking institutions. However, should you not be able to send us the full list, we would appreciate a list of persons whom, based on open source information, you believe fall in the category who, under the law, must disclose their assets and interests’, reads ANI’s letter to RISE Project who published the Swissleaks investigation.
The Swiss subsidiary of HSBC sheltered secret accounts in excess of USD 100 bn until 2007, belonging to celebrities, public personalities, diplomats and judges, but also to weapon dealers, third world dictators’ intermediate people as well as other criminals. The Swiss banks would encourage them to hide their funds from the authorities in their respective countries in order to evade taxes or justice. A total of 219 persons and companies from Romania, including former or current politicians, or who are connected to Romania deposited over USD 1.3 bn with the Swiss bank from 1974 to 2007. The biggest Romanian account with the Swiss bank is over USD 800 M, rumored to have belonged to magnate Dinu Patriciu.
Viorel Hrebenciuc on the list of Romanians who hid away money to Switzerland
Viorel Hrebenciuc is one of the clients of the Swiss subsidiary of the HSBC bank where Romanians have accounts worth over USD 1.3 bn. It was a joint account with businessman Robert Deutsch, a key-figure in the Megapower deal from which the State lost over USD 11 M according to RISE Project. The Swiss account was closed in 2006, with a balance of USD 90,000. The Megapower case was investigated by PM Victor Ponta at the time when he was a prosecutor.
According to RISE Project, ex-PSD MP Viorel Hrebenciuc, arrested together with his son, Andrei, in the illegal forest restitution case, had a banking profile with the Swiss subsidiary of HSBC which combined two distinct accounts his wife, Letitia, and their son, Andrei Hrebenciuc had access to.
Businessman Robert Deutsch who appears in the Megapower affair causing the State a damage of over USD 11 M also had access to Hrebenciuc’s bank accounts.
The accounts were set up in 1996 and were closed in 2006 with an approximate balance of USD 90,000. The accounts are not mentioned in Hrebenciuc’s financial disclosure form, RISE Project further notes. RISE Project is an organization affiliated with the journalistic network that conducted the Swissleaks international investigation.
The Megapower case was dealt with by PM Victor Ponta at the time when he was a prosecutor. Ponta did not refer to Court Robert Deutsch, a businessman born in Timisoara, who represented Megapower Corporation of California in Romania. The company was supposed to cooperate with IIRUC S.A. to set up a joint venture for the production of advanced technologies. The State credited the instituted with USD 11.7 M for that. The joint venture never operated as Megapower soon became bankrupt, according to RISE Project.
In 2006, the year Hrebenciuc closed his Swiss bank accounts, his financial statement referring to 2005 does not include the HSBC accounts in Switzerland. It only quotes bank accounts in Great Britain and Bucharest with GBP 31,600 and EUR 5,000.
HSBC scandal: ANAF has no official information
National Authority for Fiscal Administration (ANAF) is not in possession of officially obtained information on accounts with the HSBC banking group, Eugen Serban head of the ANAF Tax Checks Directorate the task of which is the verification of major wealth, said during a conference on fiscal topics on Wednesday.
‘If such information is available to other fiscal agencies, the Romanian authorities will take steps to obtain it. From our point of view, we are interested and would like to know such information. What will follow are official steps that are not necessarily the job of our directorate. ANAF or the Government probably has official channels to request and obtain such information’, the ANAF representative further said.
He added the Tax Authority could be interested if a person had a big sum in a bank account, if the person has the profile to be put on the ANAF risk and monitoring lists.