SwissLeaks. From medication to bribes in the timber business

Politicians, arms dealers, tax evaders or celebrities hide their money in the HSBC bank in Switzerland. Having a bank account with HSBC Switzerland doesn’t necessarily mean that its holder is breaking the law. Most often, HSBC employees advised their clients on how to avoid taxes in their country and they were not afraid to tell to the bank employees that they did not declare the accounts in their countries of origin. Almost 200 Romanians or foreign citizens born in Romania have HSBC accounts.

Doctor Gabriel Hanganu is one of the pioneers in distribution of medication on the Romanian market. He was recently convicted to three years in prison for bribing a judge.

The DNA investigation

In 1992 Gabriel Hanganu gave up his doctor position with the Fundeni Hospital and went into business. He started working as a sales representative for an American multinational in the pharmaceutical sector, and then transferred to Pfizer, a pharmaceutical manufacturer who was about to penetrate the Romanian market. Subsequently, he developed Ultramed Pharma, a company who had business dealings with Pfizer. Currently, the National Anticorruption Directorate is investigating Pfizer in a corruption case related to the pharmaceutical industry.

Ultramed Pharma’s majority shareholder was Niand Pharmaceuticals, a Swiss company owned by Hanganu. Gabriel Hanganu claims that the money in the Swiss bank account was obtained legally as a result of the sale of the Ultramed shares by Niand Pharmaceuticals. “I owned a third of Niand. The transaction took place in Switzerland, but the taxes for the transaction were paid in our country and in Switzerland. I received a million and couple of hundred thousand euro. A part of the money was wired to my HSBC account. I also used that account for collecting the money earned from dividends from the Swiss company”, declared Hanganu for RCIJ.

I did not declare the money at Customs

Hanganu appears as the holder of a bank account opened with HSBC in February 2005. In May 2005, he informed the bank representative that in the following two weeks, his account will be credited with 350.000 Swiss francs. Also, Hanganu said that he needed 100.000 euro for his company, whose name is not mentioned in the bank documents, to acquire some equipment.

In November 2005, Hanganu went back to Switzerland with his son to withdraw 20.000 euro in cash, money which he was going to spend, according to bank information, in Austria for Christmas presents. Hanganu had little over 630.000 in his accounts. According to the bank documents where the account officer noted that Hanganu came with his son, the businessman withdrew 20.000 euro for a vacation in Austria.

The father and son did not go to Austria, returning instead with the money to Romania. “I didn’t declare the money at Customs, because we were two people. We were each allowed to have 10.000 de euro”, said Hanganu.  He claims that the money from his account, which he used to finance his other businesses, returned to the country through Atlas Consulting Services, a company registered in Ireland. Gabriel Hanganu also funded his businesses through the sale of a villa located in Sfântul Ștefan Street, Bucharest, to Infomed Fluids, a company manufacturing pharmaceutical products and has contracts with the Romanian hospitals.

Gabriel Hanganu was convicted by the Bucharest Court of Appeal to three years imprisonment for bribery, in the corruption case which also convicted businessmen Dan Adamescu, the owner of the ASTRA insurance company and newspaper România Liberă, Iosif Armaș, former deputy, as well as several judges, one of them getting a record-conviction of 22 years imprisonment.

Petru Zoltan, Cristian Niculescu