septembrie 14th, 2009

It’s time to draw some conclusions

The “brothers in arms” scandal

Foto Mircea si Traian BasescuA few weeks ago, a high level corruption scandal was released in Romania. The scandal is linked to the arms industry and it involves the President Traian Basescu’s family, through his brother, Mircea Basescu and his brother’s daughter, Raluca. This scandal can be divided in three chapters:


I. The ammunition file


On January 14, 2009, 1.884 tons of expired weapons arrived in Constanta harbour, on board of the “Stella Maris” ship under Danish flag. The ammunition was to be disassembled by the Spanish company Maxam, which had won, for this purpose, an auction in Taiwan, through its Maxam Bulgaria branch. Out of five ships, four remained in Bulgaria and the fifth arrived in Romania. According to the contract with Oxo Network Corporation – company led by Cornel Purcarea, former undercover agent for the Romanian Army – the whole quantity of ammunition conveyed Romania in transit, from Contanta Sud-Agigea harbour, reaching the mechanical factory Babeni in Valcea. A number of disorders happened on the route, which drew the attention of the Romanian authorities:

  • Although Oxo Network specified in the contract with Maxam Bulgaria that “it has all permits, authorizations and licences for the subcontracted demilitarization services”, Cornel Purcarea’s company received the Army authorization for unloading the ammunition only a month after the operation had taken place. Only then the former military counter-espionage agent’s company was also authorized by the Ministry of National Defence.
  • The Ice Age company – which assured, in exchange for money, the depositing of the ammunition from Taiwan – belongs to Raluca Basescu, Mircea Basescu’s daughter, who is the Romanian President’s brother. The company does not have a licence for depositing dangerous goods.
  • The Romanian President’s brother interceded, through his relations, helping Cornel Purcarea and introducing him to the person who was to handle the unloading of the 105 containers of ammunition.
  • Regardless to the Romanian law – which states that the goods that are highly excised and the special goods can only be charged custom duty when entering the conuntry – the ammunition from Taiwan didn’t undergo the custom operations until March 23, in Valcea.


At the same time, another important event occurred. INTERPOL Belgium sent the Romanian authorities an urgent request for obtaining information on the Belgian citizen with Lebanese origins, Imad Bakri Abdul Reda, who had been suspected in the past of owning the block of stocks of the company named Romagro Cereal, where stockholder had also been Cornel Purcarea.

Returning to the ammunition subject, after noting the above disorders, the Ministry of Administration and Interior opened an investigation. The investigation file, which was drawn up by colonel Eugen Corciu, launches the suspicion that part of the ammunition was repacked and reexported. In the spring of 2009, the file was presented to the General Prosecutor’s Office and the President Traian Basescu was informed of its existence. However, the President did not inform the public opinion of the fact that his brother, Mircea Basescu and his niece, Raluca Basescu were involved in a disputed business. The President, being also the Supreme Commander of the Romanian Army, got into a conflict of interest situation. Since then, there hasn’t been any development in this matter.

A few weeks ago, starting out with receiving some information, I started my own inquiry and a series of disclosures on this subject. The disclosures that I have published were followed by a wide range of reactions. The political parties took notice on the matter and the Romanian Parliament opened investigation. This is the present stage of the situation.

Meanwhile, there hasn’t been any General Prosecutor’s Office investigation on the ammunition problem. There is no knowledge of INTERPOL Belgium receiving from the Romanian authorities the answers requested on January 21.

It is important to mention that, since last month, the whole press revealed that Mircea Basescu was shareholder in a company that has objectives in the arms industry – Defense, Security and Intelligence CO – Desintco SRL together with some of the most known arms merchants, which were all former agents for the Romanian Army intelligence services. This was officially admitted by the general manager of Romarm, who resigned over this matter, by Traian Basescu and his brother, Mircea Basescu.


II. Arms trafficking file

The above-mentioned case is not the first one in which is involved the present President of Romania, Traian Basescu. I have demonstrated that, while being minister of Transportation, Traian Basescu covered weapon traffic operations in states where the United Nations have enforced embargo. And I have exemplified with the following flights:

– the February 12, 1997 transport, operated by Acvila Air, when a IL-76, matriculated in Ukrain, was loaded with weapons on the Otopeni military platform

– the February 17 transport, with the airship AN-12 hired by ATS, with Balkan Air’s trap. The transport was composed of hundreds of ammunition chests that were delivered to UNITA

– the February 20, 1997 transport, with a B707 belonging to the Liberian company Occidental Airlines, matriculated 5B-DAZ ( 5B-DAZ_1997) in Ciprus

– the February 24, 1997 transport, when the twin airship 9G-JNR is loaded on the military platform

During the inquiry, I have also demonstrated that, two years ago, the famous arms trafficker, former KGB agent Viktor Bout was to be arrested in Romania, following an operation of the Romanian authorities in co-operation of the CIA, who hoped to catch him red-handed. The operation, in which the prosecutor Ciprian Nastasiu took part, was exposed by a character who has been permanenly promoted by Traian Basescu – colonel-engineer Gigel Bratiloveanu, economic adviser for the Romanian Embassy in Moscow – and, at the same time, hired at Romtehnica and former manager at Radmil, on the Democratic Party’s agorithm. However, Viktor Bout was later arrested in Thailand, where he still is today.

III. The missiles file

Although Romania did not have stipulated in its arming programme, in its budget or in its NATO arrangements the acquisitions of small-scale or very small-scale missiles, there were made nevertheless, at the highest level, the necessary arrangements for such acquisitions. For making the acquisitions possible, on May 13, 2009, the Romanian Government issued a secret decision, S-588, which was previously approved by the Supreme Council for Country’s Defense (the CSAT decision number S-58 / 28.04.2009), led by President Traian Basescu. Two days after I released the ammunition scandal, the Government issued the secret decision S-962 dated August 28, 2009 which annuled the one dated May 12, 2009. Subsequent to the press disclosures, the Ministry of National Defence stated that the reasons for the second decision were the budget problems that the Ministry is confronted with. What was really hiding behind this matter? The intention was to buy SHORAD-VSHORAD integrated arms systems from MBDA for €250 million, although, on the arms market, such a system costs only €170 million. It is an obvious difference of €80 million. Even more serious is the fact that, through the decision of the Supreme Council for Country’s Defense, which is led by Traian Basescu, there would be no auction for the acquisition, this being granted, through a secret document, to the French company MBDA. In addition, the business was to take place by violation of the offset obligations, in spite of the fact that the European legislation states the obligation of the European Union contries to always apply the offset rule when a defence and security contract is signed. In order to avoid the offset regulations, the UTI company was used, which belongs to the rich businessman Tiberiu Urdareanu. Further, UTI and its branches are intermediaries in similar operations, in which the Romanian Army and several members of the presidential family are involved.

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