SwissLeaks. The real estate strangers network

Fancy investors, living in the same apartment building

Dan Filip, or Philip, as he also appears in the records of the Swiss bank, opened in mid-January 2005 an account with HSBC Geneva. He was already the customer of the bank’s Lugano branch, but he expressed his desire to transfer 800.000 dollars from the Lugano account to Geneva to invest in financial markets. Filip had almost 2.1 million dollars in one account and 135.000 dollars in another.

As shown in the bank documents from 2006 – 2007, Filip was investing massively through HSBC in India, but subsequently renounced, for reasons not mentioned by the bank employee. Normally, when a HSBC customer wasn’t satisfied with the products provided by the bank, the employees wrote down his comments and conveyed them to their superiors. Besides his investments in the Far East, Filip sought to also have financial profits in Romania. He was born in Romania in 1946, immigrated to Israel and returned to the country after 1989. He opened a business in clothing and apparel and then became involved in the real estate market.

Contacted by the RCIJ reporters, Filip admitted having opened his Swiss bank account before 1989, as an Israeli citizen and of closing it several years ago. “Nobody can accuse me of nothing. I don’t even remember why I chose to open that account, but I had nothing to hide. Not from my business partners and not from the authorities. The bank data show that in January 2005 he opened the account with almost 2.1 million dollars, and a second account with almost 57.000 dollars was opened in November 2004 and closed in May 2006.

Together with his neighbor from the apartment building located on no. 4, Splaiul Unirii, Shimshon Younger, he founded several companies, some of them with the registered office in a mansard apartment located on a Basarabia boulevard, close to the National Stadium.

Younger is a well-known investor on the Romanian market, analysts and journalists crediting him of being the owner of two office buildings in the Capital which he built and rented out, and is now looking for a buyer for the amount of 16 million euro. Shimshon Younger met with a HSBC representative in Israel in March 2005, because he was one of their most important customers. The businessman revealed to the HSBC employee that in 2006 he was going to invest 12 million dollars in a business in Romania and that he wanted to transfer some funds from other businesses to the HSBC because he was very satisfied with the bank’s working manners.

Younger even invited the bank representative to visit Romania and to meet his partners. His wife, Sara, had 4.25 million dollars in an account whose online user was Shimshon. According to data from the Trade Register, his partners in Romania at that date were: Dan Filip and Charlie Nims. We must make note of the fact that one of the most important companies registered in Romania through which the two neighbors operated their business was called Fidelity Mangament. This company had at some point as sole associate a Cypriote off-shore directly tied to Charlie Nims, another person with bank accounts in Switzerland. Fidelity Management currently has an undergoing real estate project (photo) on no. 9 Lt. Dumitru Ganovici Street in Bucharest.

How to steel from hundreds of retirees

Charlie Nims was born in Siret in 1946, in the same year as Filip, and the mirage of the secret Swiss bank account determined him to also open an account in Switzerland. In the early 2000’s, his wife, Mihaela Nims, worked for a so-called Israeli investor, Bar Biro Zvi. He was the mastermind behind one of the most interesting scams, which cost hundreds of Romanian retirees in Israel the pensions they were entitled to before immigration.

Bar Biro, also the holder of a HSBC account, posted in 1997 an advertisement in Israel, which promised the recovery of the amounts from the right to pension for the Romanians who immigrated to the Holy Land. Bar Biro mandated Mihaela Nims to represent several hundred people before the Romanian authorities for preparing the files. Thus, in November 2000 – April 2001, Bar Biro received through Mihaela Nims 3.5 million old lei, the equivalent of almost 170.000 dollars. This amount had been refunded for pensions by the Romanian state and should have gotten to the 153 retirees.

The police opened an investigation, but the case felt through the cracks. The couple Mihaela Nims – Bar Biro, who also owned a company at some point, also tricked another 300 Romanians, offering them fictional jobs, while their clients paid 200 to 1.500 euro to work abroad. No information about the file indicting the two of them for this case could be found either. HSBC documents don’t mention he account balances for Charlie Nims and Bar Biro.

The RCIJ reporters tried to find out from Charlie Nims what happened to his wife’s criminal charges and bumped into him in the hallway of the apartment building located on Tei Boulevard, where he lives and where several of his companies are registered. Nims proved to be very agitated and explained that his wife cannot talk with the reporters because she is very ill and there’s no getting through to her.  Nims denied ever being associated in a company, fact which was denied by the information from the Trade Register, as four companies listing his name are involved in real estate.

Connections at the top

Moreover, Nims seems to be the frontman of Shimshon Younger’s businesses and not only. Nevertheless, he denies having any relation with Younger, although he administrated his companies and was the representative of some off-shores controlled by him, and in 2013 they inaugurated together a building in downtown Bucharest, built by the companies controlled by Younger. Nims was also the administrator of a company linking other real estate investments in Romania: Cora GS, which merged with Immoeast AG Austria.

The Austrian companies gravitate around a Dutch company and a British national: Romanian Real Estate Partners BV (RREP) and Andrew Clive Stear. Immoeast has built, among others, Polus Centre in Cluj. In total, almost 120 companies and individuals with connections going up to the former Prime Minister Adrian Năstase, to fashion designer Irina Schrotter, called into questioning together with her husband several times by DIICOT for money laundering and tax evasion, to Octavian Morariu, former president of the Romanian Olympic and Sports Committee, to institutions such as European Bank for Reconstruction and Development – EBRD.

Andrew Clive Stear is a British national with approximately 940.000 dollars in his HSBC account and was the administrator of Iași Logistic Parc, a company whose associates were Zaharia Schrotter, Irinei Schrotter’s husband and Khalil Abi Chanine. The latter is a Lebanese businessman who was involved in the Microsoft licenses affair, being, according to the DNA prosecutors who arrested him, the middle-man for the bribes. The press says that he is a close partner of Adrian Năstase and Victor Ponta. Stear was also the representative of Neutral Development Limited from the British Virgin Islands, an off-shore associate of a company where we can find Octavian Morariu. Stear also was the representative of IRIDE, who had concluded a contract with the EBRD.

Steinberg. George Steinberg

He is by far one of the wealthiest and most important customers of HSBC and became well-known after one of the companies he administered, Stero Holding, obtained the authorization to demolish a building in the historical center of Brașov, where a hospital was operating, to construct an office building.

In August 2005, Steinberg went to HSBC to request the transfer of several million dollars to invest in a real estate business in Romania, and the profit amounting to several millions, as evidenced by the bank documents was going to go back to the Swiss bank in approximately two years. Steinberg was several times dissatisfied with the slowness HSBC employees proved in solving his financial matters. To appease him, the bank employees offered to propose the creation of an off-shore structure. Steinberg was one of their most important clients, as for several times HSBC representatives went to Israel to convince him not to transfer his funds to another bank.

In December 2005, the businessman requested another 3 million euro from the bank to invest in real estate business in Romania. One of the companies related to George Steinberg is Sirius Dezvoltare, where we can also find Sorin Crețeanu, another controversial real estate investor with accounts at HSBC, involved in a corruption case related to real estate deals with the Romanian Post. George Steinberg’s wife, Clara, had 2.000.000 US dollars in her accounts at HSBC Geneva, which could also be accessed by her husband and another two Israeli nationals. Okimore Limited Cyprus had over 500.000 dollars in their account, and also used to own Stero Holding, the company Steinberg had tried to use to demolish the hospital in downtown Brașov.

Sandicrest Investments SA Panama – 6.65 million dollars, Minodalia Investments Limited – about 2.2 million dollars, Bartow Trading – 4.6 million dollars. Sandicrest, Minodalia and Bartow were all together or in turn associates of Global Trust SRL, where we can also find Charlie Nims. Minodalia and Sandicrest were also part of the Cora GS structure, which had merged with the Austrian company Immoeast. Bartow also appeared in the structure of yet another company founded by Filip and Younger, closely related to another Cypriote off-shore. Sandicrest Investments SA changed its name into Kandior Overseas SA.

Adrian Mogoș, Petru Zoltan