Ion Iliescu’s protégée’s Russian business

Benefiting from the highest level of Romanian government protection, the Romanian Russian Business Center, a joint stock company, was born with the blessing of president Ion Iliescu and Ioan Talpes, former Foreign Intelligence Service and Presidential Administration chief. The business was set into place in 2003, two months before Ion Iliescu’s official visit to Kremlin, where the Russian Romanian summit was about to take place.

From Iurie Cecan to Plahotniuc

The Romanian Russian Business Center (CARR) was founded by Constantin Samson together with Traian Grigore, Gabriela Beatrice Radu, the lawyer Marian Moscovici and Alitrade România, a company represented by Iurie Cecan, a Chişinău born Romanian citizen. Later, Samson and Moscovici were part of the official delegation that accompanied president Ion Iliescu in Russia. Samson’s business partner, the controversial Iurie Cecan, embodied, for the last 20 years, Russian interests in Bucharest. In the early 2000s, he was in the administrative board of Nova Bank, the former Unirea Bank, a company controled by the Russians Anatoly Patron and Alexey Voskoboy. The two Russians, former KBG officers, were in Evgheni Primakov’s entourage. Primakov is a former Russian Foreign Intelligence Service chief. Later, the Russian bank found its way on the black list of BNR for its money “export” to Moscow. On January 16 2019, the oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc bought a villa from Iurie Cecan, paying 1.3 million Euros for it. According to rise.md, the villa is on the Erou Iancu Nicolae street in Bucharest. The Romanian Russian Business Center also caught the eyes of Corneliu Păltânea and Boris Golovin, both retired colonels. The first of them was the chief of SRI Prahova, while the other worked in Soviet Union military espionage. Corneliu Păltânea was accused of protecting the Prahova petroleum mafia and was sentenced for corruption to three and a half years in prison.

„A treaty between Russia and Romania was signed”

The former SIE and Presidential Administration chief, Ioan Talpeș said that, during that time, the Romanian Russian Business Center seemed to be the solution towards a Russian openness. „A natural openness in interstate relationships. The matter was discussed when I accompanied president Ion Iliescu to Moscow. A treaty between Russia and Romania was signed then. I can guarantee that, without the signing of that treaty, Romania would not have entered NATO. The treaty and the Center did no harm”, Talpeş said. Asked how were the people to be part of CARR chosen, Ioan Talpeş said he was not involved in such matters. But he admitted that he might have been consulted by Samson. „At some point, they came to me at Cotroceni with somebody from Moscow. I congratulated them. All the statements were made on a correct activity. (…) He was also there when we visited Moscow. Samson’s initiative bothered no one,” Ioan Talpeş added. Talpeş also said that he was the main cause of Păltânea’s dismissal from the Romanian Intelligence Service.

Moscovici and Muscovites

The Business Center was later taken over by lawyer Marian Moscovici, who brought Romanian-Moldovans Serghei Vlasov and Mariana Zgardan with him. They decided to open a Moscow branch where the Russian Vladimir Sergheevici Brusilovskii was in charge. The lawyer Moscovici said that he was „sort of” associated with colonel Golovin: „I have some health issues that prevent me from concentrating. Yes, mister Păltânea was also there. I met him. I couldn’t tell you what was exactly there”. Asked how come they all gathered around the Romanian Russian Business Center, Moscovici said that the circles already existed. „There were some relationships. It is not an effort I’ve made. Connections are required in the respective circles. Working together was just an idea. A center to improve business relationships with Russia,” Moscovici said.

The PMB real estate bomb

During 2012-2016, while representing the Green Party, the controversial Constantin Samson was the mayor of Azuga. He renounced the office, he enlisted in PSD and became a city councilman. Before becoming a lawmaker, he made his fortune from doing business with state owned companies. He was labeled as „Ion Iliescu’s man”, then „Traian Băsescu’s man”. In 2005, mass media reported that Ioana Băsescu and Bogdan Mihai Marin, Traian Băsescu’s daughter and former son in law, became his godmother, respectively godfather. In the early ’90, Samson was a distributor of Lukoil goods. His rise to power started in 1999, when Radu Berceanu was Industries minister and Samson took over the debts of some state owned companies subordinated to the Ministry run by Berceanu. One of the companies was Transgaz, that had some 300 billion old Lei to recover (17 million USD at that time). The money never reached Transgaz but was used to purchase four former state owned companies. It was not until late 2003 that Transgaz took over shares in exchange of the money owed by Samson, Later, Samson became a realtor, together with Hilde Gilda Chiriuc. He paid 1.6 million Euros for the acquisition of some claims worth 103.2 million Euros. The claimed piece of land is directly underneath the Fundeni Hospital. He also bought the claims over the Giuleşti-Ţigănia estate, a 150 ha piece of land in the Giuleşti neighbourhood. Based on these claims, Samson intends to take over several buildings owned by the Bucharest Town Hall through the Real Estate Administration. The Town Hall run by Gabriela Firea refused to answer questions about her party colleague’s claims.