Romanian prosecutors have seized the assets of a media mogul as they continue an investigation into allegations of financial embezzlement.
The organized crime unit said it had frozen the assets of Cristian Burci, the director of a media group that owns Adevarul daily and Prima TV. Burci had appealed the decision but a Bucharest court overruled him.
Burci has reportedly been trying to sell Prima TV this summer. Liberatea reported that Burci had left Romania and was in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.
The Directorate for the Investigation of Organized Crime and Terrorism has been investigating Burci since 2016 on suspicion that he siphoned off 8 million euros from Romvag Caracal, a company he acquired from the state in 2004.
Romvag Caracal was producer of railway carriages that was established in 1973 and privatized in 2002.
It was bought by International Railway Systems in 2004. During communism it was one of the biggest exporters of goods train carriages.
„DIICOT initiated a criminal investigation against 11 people for … forming an organized criminal group, money laundering, abuse of office, document forgery, tax evasion, embezzlement, and fraudulent management,” a statement said.
Burci, 55, was briefly detained in 2016 over the case. The central office DIICOT took over the case from a regional office.
Burci, an influential businessman who was one of the founders of Romania’s advertising industry after communism collapsed in 1989, was an unofficial adviser to former Prime Minister Viorica Dancila, the former leader of the Social Democratic Party.
He also has connections to politicians from other parties, according to reports.