Tuesday, June 19, 2018
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Romania’s Parliament passes controversial amendments to Criminal Procedure Code | Opposition says changes to be attacked at Constitutional Court

Romania’s Chamber of Deputies has approved a raft of controversial changes to the Criminal Procedure Code on Monday evening, with the opposition announcing that the amendments will be challenged at the Constitutional Court.

The draft bill was approved with 175 votes, while 78 MPs voted against it and one abstained. The center left coalition PSD-ALDE currently holds the majority in Parliament.

According to one approved amendment, judges will issue a sentence for a defendant only when the court has the conviction that the criminal charge was proved beyond any doubt, according to Agerpres.

Another amendment states that if evidence from a recording is obtained illegally, the prosecutor has to destroy it and attach the confirmation of this move in the court file. In addition, the preventive arrest measure can be ordered only that there are solid evidence or clues. The “reasonable suspicions” notion for issuing a preventive arrest warrant has been removed.

The seizure of assets will be carried out only if there are clear evidence or clues that the assets were obtained through illegal means. The seizure of goods will be lifted if a reasonable period passes or if the administered evidence is not valid anymore.

Furthermore, suspects that are wiretapped will be informed by prosecutors about this measure up to 10 days after it was completed.

A separate amendment approved in the special Parliament committee that oversee the changes to the justice laws states that authorities will be forbidden from making public any kind of information about persons or charges included in criminal cases during the prosecution and trial stages.

The committee that worked on the amendments also included a change that establishes when the final court decisions can be challenged on the criminal side. MP Stelian Ion, a member of the Union to Save Romania (USR), claimed that this amendment will allow PSD head Liviu Dragnea to ask for a retrial in the file in which he got a 2-years suspended jail sentence.

Both USR and the National Liberal Party (PNL) said the draft bill that amendments the Criminal Procedure Code will be challenged at the Constitutional Court. The changes have to be signed into law by president Klaus Iohannis in order to become applicable.

 

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Bogdan Popescu (Microsoft), confirmed speaker at BR’s Realty Forum

Bogdan Popescu, marketing & operations director at Microsoft, will speak during the 17th edition of Realty Forum, the leading Romanian real estate event organized by Business Review on June 19 at Sheraton Bucharest Hotel.

Popescu will join the panel “How the internal migration of Romanian specialists shapes new real estate trends.”

He is responsible for the implementation of all marketing programs Microsoft is running in Romania, in close coordination with other global initiatives, as well as for all product related activities aimed to promote and explain to various industry verticals the opportunities and the benefits these products can bring to their operations. Before joining Microsoft, he worked for 15 years in Shell and 5 years in Metro Group, covering a number of roles in Operations, Supply Chain and General management of various business lines, working more than 10 years abroad. He is licensed in Aircraft engines engineering, has a degree in law and a post graduate degree in political sciences. He also graduated from Asebuss EMBA program.

During Realty Forum 2018, around 200 industry professionals will get together for a half-day forum set to spot new opportunities and trends in the industry and act as a platform for new potential partnerships and unique networking opportunities.

The forum will bring together industry professionals and consultants alike to find out their take on how the market is evolving and their forecast on the segments promising the highest profits in 2018 and beyond that.

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Wess Mitchell (Department of State): “We look forward to the passage of the Offshore Gas Law”

The US hopes that Romania’s parliament will pass a bill regulating offshore oil and gas developments in a move designed to spur investments in this area, said Wess Mitchell, the assistant secretary of state, during a speech in Bucharest.

Mitchell said that the US promotes the diversification of fuel types, routes, and sources, and the interconnectors that link them.

“For this reason, we support intra-European pipelines like the Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria, and the Bulgaria-Romania-Hungary-Austria pipeline.  We stand with the European Union and a plurality of its member states in opposing Nord Stream 2.  And we oppose the multi-line TurkStream pipeline that would give Russia the means to continue its virtual monopoly on gas imports to South Eastern Europe,” said Mitchell.

He went on to say that Romania is a crucial component of Europe’s energy security, adding that the US looks forward to the passage of a law regulating offshore investments in the oil and gas sector.

“Today U.S. companies play a role in the exploration and development of new discoveries onshore and in the Black Sea that have the potential to make Romania a natural gas exporter.  This new sources will strengthen Romania’s economy and advance energy security throughout the region.  We look forward to the passage of the Offshore Gas Law and applaud Romania’s expeditious development of the infrastructure and resources for the BRUA pipeline across its territory,” said the official

US ExxonMobil is jointly doing offshore explorations with OMV Petrom in the Black Sea. The companies have already discovered a significant gas deposit.

 

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Wess Mitchell (Department of State): “The US supports the fight against corruption and this should encourage Romanians”

Wess Mitchell, assistant secretary of state, said during a speech in Bucharest that the fight against corruption is a “marathon, not a sprint” and Romania is in a “crucial moment” inside the marathon.

Speaking at the Faculty of Law in Bucharest, Mitchell underlined that Romania recorded a “significant progress” in the anti-corruption efforts.

Asked about the controversial amendments voted by MPs to the justice laws, the Department of State official stated that the “US supports the fight against corruption this should encourage Romanians.”

He went on to say that the US support the anti-corruption institutions in Romania “as a pillar of your democracy and we will continue to closely monitor the situation.”

The official was asked if president Klaus Iohannis should remove the head of the National Anti-Corruption Directorate (DNA), Laura Codruta Kovesi. “I think this is a matter that has to be solved by Romanian citizens and their leaders through the constitutional mechanisms that you have.”

The American official said Romania’s anti-corruption efforts are important to eliminate vulnerabilities which could be used by hostile powers to undermine the state from the inside.

Mitchell pointed out that both China and Russia aim to defeat the West, suggesting that the Russians want to fragment it, while the Chinese aim to replace it.

“Their objective is the political, economic and social construction in itself that makes up Romania,” said Mitchell, according to a tweet of the US Embassy in Bucharest.

Talking about Romania’s potential, its geographical position and the abundance of resources turns the country into a crucial component of energy security in Europe.

Mitchell is responsible for diplomatic relations with 50 countries in Europe and Eurasia, and with NATO, the EU and the OSCE.

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Dynamic Selling concludes purchase of Oltchim’s PVC division Ramplast for EUR 2.6 million

Dynamic Selling Group has finalized the takeover of Ramplast, Oltchim’s PVC production arm, in a deal valued at EUR 3 million euros, including VAT.

Dynamic Selling Group participated in the tender initiated on August 23, 2016 by Rominsolv and BDO Business Restructuring, legal administrators of Oltchim, and was declared the winner of the sixth asset package, Ramplast Building Materials Division.

A 100 percent Romanian factory, present on the PVC profile market for more than 22 years, Ramplast became a part of the Dynamic Selling Group on June 14. The production facility has a capacity of about 14,000 tons annually, being the largest Romanian factory in the field.

The Dynamic Group of Companies was founded in 2004 by Cristian Stoleru and Gabriel Stoian, both holding equal stake in the company since its inception. Dynamic works exclusively on the PVC profile and PVC joinery market, developing logistics centers, national distribution and production of PVC joinery and fittings. The group of companies has grown steadily, reaching a turnover of EUR 46 million at the end of 2017, with around 500 employees.

“Dynamic’s acquisition of Ramplast was a natural consequence of long and solid business relationships between the two companies and the dynamics of our business development. The substantial collaboration with the Valcea factory, and now its integration into the Dynamic family, means, in fact, our full trust in this Romanian brand. Ramplast is the largest Romanian PVC manufacturer and we should not only preserve this position, but develop it, and open new national and European perspectives, “said Dynamic Selling Group administrators.

Dynamic Group budgeted for the next 2 years investments of EUR 3 million in the refurbishment and modernization of the plant, focusing on the expansion of production capacity. The team operating Ramplast will be taken over as well by the purchaser and 40 new employees will be hired.

In the past year, the national PVC, aluminum and wood carpentry market was worth around EUR 700 million.

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Google Street View vehicles to return to Romania’s roads this summer

Google Street View cars will return to Romania this summer to update images of local roads in Google Maps, according to a statement by the company.

This year, Street View vehicles will focus on photographing roads that link Romanian localities and the process will start on June 25 and last for two months.

In the same period, Street View images will be collected from the Danube Delta, in collaboration with World Wide Fund (WWF) Romania. Meanwhile, images of various touristic objectives in Transylvania will be added to Google Maps.

Street View is a popular service offered by Google Maps, currently available in over 85 countries, including in the Arctic and Antarctica. In Street View, people can see 360-degree images from various places in the world, such as roads, cities, historical monuments, cultural landmarks, wild nature or even space. The service is also available through Google Earth and on the mobile Google Maps app.

Street View has been available in Romania since 2010, when images of the country’s most important cities were published on Google Maps. Street View’s coverage of the whole country was completed in 2012, when images from 40,000 km of roads, 39 cities and hundreds of touristic landmarks were collected and published.

Since then, the service continued to expand in Romania, with updated images from cities and various touristic areas like the Turda Salt Mine, Bran Castle, Alba Iulia citadel, the Brukenthal National Museum and the Danube river.

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ANAF selling new goods from Sorin Ovidiu Vintu and Rompetrol

On the list of the largest debtors to the state we can find many companies owned by the Romanian state, but the first place is taken by Oilfield Exploration Business Solutions, with debts of almost RON 1 billion. It is not a new company – it is formerly known as Rompetrol SA, part of the group that Dinu Patriciu sold to KazMunaiGas.

According to Rompetrol officials, cited by Digi24, the debt is not new, but it is an old litigation with the Romanian state regarding “the Libyan unpaid claim”, that dates back to the 1990s when Dinu Patriciu bought Petromidia from the state. Today, if the Romanian fiscal authorities can’t get the money from the Libyan claim, they can go against Dinu Patriciu’s heirs.

So far, the state has already started selling assets belonging to Oilfield Exploration in open auctions. The sellers are the Finance Ministry and the Public Ministry, who have the right the sell following a decision by the Bucharest Tribunal and by the Bucharest Appeals Court.

In April, an office building was auctioned with a total surface of 5,330 square meters (all ten floors, but not the ground floor because it didn’t belong to the debtor), located on Victoriei Road no. 222. The starting price for the bid was RON 34.99 million, but according to the information available the auction was not successful.

The list of debtors also includes Electrocentrale Bucharest, with a debt of RON 860 million. It is unlikely that this debt will ever be collected, but rather it will be written-off one way or another. The Transport Company of Bucharest (RATB) is registered with a debt of RON 234 million, Electrocentrale Constanta with RON 200 million and the Romanian Postal Office with RON 176 million.

Unlikely to be collected is also the RON 400 million debt owned by Oana Management, a private company from Posta Calnau (Buzau county), which has only one employee.

A few days ago another auction was set, this time for Sorin Ovidiu Vantu, who was recently sentenced to ten years in jail for embezzlement of the Employees’ Association of SNP Petrom. The financial damage was estimated at RON 41.21 million.

So far, the Fiscal Authority started an auction for a residential building and the related land of 1,905 square meters in Mhailesti, Giurgiu county, at a starting price of RON 2.58 million.

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BR Analysis! Dedeman – the single EUR 1 billion Romanian-owned business

Dedeman has become, during the last few years, a unique company in Romania: it is, by far, the biggest Romanian-owned business built by local entrepreneurs, (the turnover in 2017 was EUR 1,13 billion) posting higher growth rates than the economy and impressive profit rates. And there are few chances that other Romanian-owned companies to approach it: the second biggest local business had half its turnover in 2017.

Dedeman’s success story is one of a first major player in a small market, avoided for decades by large foreign companies.

The company was founded in 1991, but change its strategy in 2001 to become a leading force in the DIY sector. The strategy change came after a visit of its owners in Austria and Italy.

“I saw their big DIY stores and I thought that when they came over, they would eliminate us. I said we had to do something to keep up,” Dragos Pavel, one of Dedeman’s owners, said in 2011, cited by Adevarul.ro.

And the strategy they made proved successful. The company took advantage of the lack of major foreign investment in the local DIY sector until late 2000’s and built the first major national DIY network in Romania.

Dedeman’s owners, the brothers Dragos and Adrian Paval, were small local entrepreneurs in Romania’s poorest region, Moldova, owning a local network of furniture and interior design solutions.

Now, Dedeman is by far the largest DIY retailer in Romania and the biggest business with Romanian owners.

In 2017, Dedeman posted an impressive 20.5 percent increase in turnover, to RON 6.33 billion (EUR 1.39 billion), and a net profit of RON 889.1 million (EUR 194.6 million), according to the Finance Ministry data.

The net profit of the company grew by 24.7 percent last year, from RON 713.1 million in 2016.

Compared to other Romanian-owned companies, Dedeman looks like a monster: the second in the ranking, Zoltan Teszari’s RCS&RDS, posted a turnover of RON 3.33 billion in 2017, half the size of Dedeman’s turnover, followed by Dan Ostahie’s Altex (RON 3.28 billion).

Dedeman, specialized in trading building materials and offering interior design solutions, is owned by the brothers Dragos and Adrian Paval, and is the largest business headquartered in Moldova, Romania’s poorest region – the company is registered in the city of Bacau.

Dedeman has continued its expansion in 2017, and the number of employees increased by 16.6 percent to almost 10,000. Currently, Dedeman has 47 shops, two logistics centers and its own car park.

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Bucharest Mayor Gabriela Firea says she regrets going up on stage with Simona Halep

In an interview with RFI Romania, Bucharest Mayor Gabriela Firea admitted that it was wrong of her to go up on stage with Roland Garros winner Simona Halep to hand her the key to the city during the tennis player’s trophy presentation event on the National Arena.

Firea says that she later realised the moment should have been reserved for another time and that Halep should have been allowed to go to meet her fans by herself on the Arena.

“I’ve been thinking these days, reflecting on whether what I did was right or not, and I reached a conclusion that I hope others reach as well: good intentions were there from the first moment – but the big regret is that it didn’t turn out the way I wanted it. I had the best intention, but the result wasn’t what I had planned and it is clear that we were wrong, both my team and I, because in the tense atmosphere of Bucharest a week ago, after the PSD protest, it was clear that it wasn’t the best time and place to hand Halep the key to the city and the excellence diploma, after I had already awarded Simona Halep with the honorary citizenship in February on the National Arena, where we wholeheartedly organised Simona’s meeting with her fans,” Firea said.

She continued, “I did it because I knew that this is done throughout Europe, it is done in America too, I had seen such events as a journalist… All morning last Monday I was criticized for not organising something special for Simona more quickly and I thought I’d be accused of being ignorant if I didn’t go hand her the key and then go – that was the plan – to hand her the key, to step back and let the show we’ve prepared go forward. I had no intention of staying at the event any longer. Now in hindsight we can say anything, and I can say that I should have been wiser or more cautious and should have organised a smaller ceremony either at the City Hall or somewhere else.”

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