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February 25, 2021
BUSINESS

Misu Negritoiu accused of breaking US embargo by forging banking documents

Misu Negritoiu, currently President and executive member of the Financial Overseeing Authority (ASF), is being indirectly accused by the Ministry of Finance of the US of accepting an illegal transaction at he time when he was the head of ING Bank, a transaction that, at that point, was violating the economic embargo imposed by the US against Iran, according to realitatea.net.

ING Romania had an essential role as a transit bank for an illegal transfer of funds through which an Iranian bank acquired a jet engine for the Iranian airlines Iran Air. The engine was made in the US, therefore its being purchased by an Iran entity was blatantly breaking the existing embargo. Misu Negritoiu joined a game the ING parent-bank had played on other markets subject to embargos – Cuba, Myanmar, North Korea, Sudan or Syria – and falsified banking documents in order to hide the American origin of the jet engine as well as its destination, the Iranian market, according to the mentioned source.

The 2003 – 2004 transaction via ING Romania, vouched for by Misu Negritoiu, reportedly broke the US criminal law, says the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), the control arm of the US Ministry of Finance the job of which is to watch over the observance of the embargo imposed by the USA on various markets.

Sources quoted by relaitatea.net say Misu Negritoiu is on the black list of the US Department of State and might be even banned from entering the US for a certain period because of this violation.

Misu Negritoiu allegedly agreed to the modification of the content of certain banking documents in order to hide the fact that ING Romania was a part of the violation of the embargo. OFAC, whose job is to make sure all international transactions that involve the USA comply with the regime of sanctions and existing embargos imposed by the American state, got wind of the transactions that went through ING Romania.

The scandal caused by the OFAC probe in a first phase expedited the removal of Misu Negritoiu from the executive echelon and his moving to the Board of Directors, according for dcnews.ro. The second phase was Negritoiu’s departure from ING Romania in 2014 and an attempted rehabilitation by appointing him to the top of a mammoth institution, ASF. All this time, Negritoiu has pleaded innocent in connection with this scandal and said that his leaving ING Romania was unconnected with the incident and that he had chosen to leave in order to make room for ‘younger’ colleagues.

 

Negritoiu: ‘Association of these facts with my name are mere assumptions’

 

Misu Negritoiu defends himself, claiming that he did not coordinate those operations.

‘Those operations of 2003 – 2004 were never coordinated by me, as Deputy CEO at the time, and were the object of internal investigation back then, without any document citing my name or suggesting any involvement on my part. The publication, in 2012, of the agreement between the ING Group and the Department of Justice of the US, during the period when I was the CEO of the bank in Romania, was a pure coincidence, and the association of these facts with my name are mere assumptions’, an official ASF release states.

 

Mugur Isarescu: ‘We have many reputational risks’

 

Central Bank Governor Mugur Isarescu said at the end of March he didn’t believe the replacement of Misu Negritoiu as the head of ING Bank Romania had anything to do with the agreement signed by the Dutch group with the US authorities regarding the operations with Iran, processed through Romania, but promised he would look into it.

‘Of course I am informed. Such information is especially with the Supervision Department and then goes to the Office for the Prevention and Combating of Money Laundering. This happens at much bigger houses. I am not going to deny this, because it is a problem, indeed, but let us consider it at its right size, this is what I am trying to say (…). We should not be more Catholic than the Pope’, Isarescu said, answering a question whether he was aware of the participation of ING Bank Romania, during the period when Misu Negritoiu was the CEO of the bank, in illegal transactions with Iran, for which several bank employees had been sanctioned and following which the bank signed an agreement with the US authorities and paid a fine of over USD 600 M.

‘No, I didn’t know that, and I don’t think it has changed either… His term expired and he was promoted to a more noble position (…). If we judge in this way, if we are this demanding of ourselves, we have many reputational risks’, Isarescu said, after the journalists had insisted to know if Negritoiu’s changing jobs had anything to do with that situation, concurrently with other bank employees being sanctioned and dismissed.

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