Prince Paul heads list of high-profile Romanian fugitives and runaways

They once were Romania’s elite. They moved in high political, business and social circles until they fell into disgrace facing charges ranging from corruption to manslaughter.

Some stood trial and were convicted after they ran afoul of the law. But they fled before their sentencing, during the trial or even before they could be detained.

Prince Paul

Prince Paul-Phillip heads the list of prominent fugitives that Romania has failed to bring home to serve prison sentences or stand trial, Hotnews reported Thursday.

Paul, 72, was handed a three year and four month sentence in December 2020 in an illegal restitution case involving the sale of land that belonged to his family before it was nationalized by the communists.

He was charged with buying influence, money laundering and complicity in abuse of office. The case cost the state some 145.4 million euros, prosecutors said.

Eight others including a former mayor and local government official also received prison sentences.

International arrest warrant

Police issued an international arrest warrant for the 72-year-old prince after they failed to find him at his home in Bucharest. His wife, Lia, said he was in Portugal.

Other prominent fugitives include Aurel Gabriel Popoviciu, Mario Iorgulescu, Alexander Bogdan Adamescu, Alina Bica, Avraham Morgenstern, and Sebastian Ghiță.

Businessman Gabriel ‘Puiu’ Popoviciu who was convicted of real estate fraud, is reported to live in London.

He was sentenced to seven years in prison for real estate fraud in 2017. He fled the country before the sentence.

Romanian judicial system

In June, the UK High Court rejected Romania’s request and questioned the “fairness” of his original conviction. It called into question the integrity of the judge and pointed a finger at what experts say are endemic shortcomings in the Romanian judicial system.

Prosecutors said Mr. Popoviciu, 62, obtained land in north Bucharest from a state university at a vastly undervalued price and used it to build the capital’s best-known mall. He has denied wrongdoing.

Gabriel Popoviciu has a square named after him in north Bucharest where he had developed property.

Bribing judges

Alexander Adamescu,  a businessman is another fugitive in the UK. He’s been convicted of bribing judges in Romania. He’s been in Britain since 2016.

Mr Adamescu, 42, lost his extradition case at the Westminster Magistrates Court and then lost his appeal at the High Court in London in October 2020, which ruled he could be extradited.

Mario Iorgulescu, son of Gino Iorgulescu – president of the Professional Football League, was sent to trial  in 2020 for manslaughter and driving a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or other substances.

Prosecutors said Mario Iorgulescu, 26, lost control of his Aston Martin DBS and crashed into another car, killing the driver in 2019. He was under the influence of alcohol and cocaine, the toxicology report.

Italy

A European arrest warrant has been issued in his name. His family sent him to Italy for medical treatment after the crash. He has never returned.

Alina Bica, the former chief prosecutor of the organized crime unit, who fled Romania before she was handed a four-year prison sentence for corruption was arrested in Italy in July 2020.

Ms Bica, 47, fled to Costa Rica with former tourism minister Elena Udrea in 2018, where she was briefly arrested, before a court sentenced her in Romania that year.

Abuse of office

The High Court of Cassation and Justice upheld her sentence in Nov. 2019 for abuse of office after she intervened to help suspects in two cases.

Legal proceedings are underway in Italy which recognizes her sentence. She is eligible to serve her sentence in Italy.

Extradition proceedings are ongoing in the case of former lawmaker Cristian Rizea who was sentenced to almost 5 years in prison in 2019 for influence trafficking and money laundering. He fled to the Republic of Moldova.

In November 2020, former Moldovan President Igor Dodon said he had stripped Mr Rizea of his citizenship.

Organized crime groups

In March 2021, he was sent to trial in Moldova for making false statements to obtain citizenship.

The former Social Democrat published „Rizea’s Confessions” in which he accuses several businessmen, politicians, journalists or intelligence officers of being members of organized crime  groups that have „robbed Romania”. He was detained in Moldova and later released.

Serbia

Businessman and former lawmaker Sebastian Ghita was indicted on wide-ranging corruption charges before he was detained in Serbia in 2017.

He illegally left Romania and allegedly used false documents to enter Serbia.

An arrest warrant was issued so he could face charges of bribery, blackmail and money laundering.

While on the run, he released a series of televised allegations boasting of a close family relationship with a top intelligence officer, who then stepped down.

An arrest warrant was issued in his name. Several years later, the arrest warrant was dropped. His current whereabouts are not known.

Romania issues international arrest warrant for Prince Paul after property fraud conviction

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