JUSTICE

Media mogul Sarbu sent to court over tax evasion at news agency

Media owner Adrian Sarbu has been sent to court by prosecutors with the General Prosecution Service for tax evasion involving his Mediafax Group.

In a press statement on Friday, the General Prosecution Service says Sarbu stands accused of tax evasion, instigation to tax evasion as well as instigation to embezzlement and money laundering.

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.

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.

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.

 

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