An announcement yesterday that former deputy PM George Copos was sent to court in a fraud case grabs the headlines in most of today’s newspapers, which otherwise opt for spectacular events spanning from tonight’s last round of the national football championship to the paradox of Romanian farmers left without workforce as many choose to make a better living in Western agriculture.
The case of former deputy PM George Copos, charged with tax evasion amounting to 1 million euro, landed on the desk of judges at the Supreme Court on Tuesday – enough for Bucharest newspapers to launch a wave of investigations on the real story of the case.
It is related to a real estate transaction involving sale offices of the Romanian Lottery, whose former head Nicolae Cristea is also investigated, that were passed to Copos’ company Ana Electronic.
According to Cotidianul, the list of suspected partners in the deal includes many official representatives of the National Lottery, of Ana Electronic and third-party companies.
And the newspaper quotes prosecutors who say the deal was done through intermediaries – two natural persons, who would not pay any taxes, and a micro-firm that would pay only 1.5% of the transaction price.
That would amount to a 40 bln ROL loss in dodged taxes to the state budget, according to the newspaper.
Evenimentul Zilei, meanwhile, quotes prosecutors claiming that Copos tried to use his position as a deputy PM to influence the inquiry into the Lottery case – a thing that ex-Lottery head Nicolae Cristea also tried to accomplish.
And Adevarul reports that many of the money Copos obtained from the contract was passed to various accounts including one belonging to world-famous football coach Mircea Lucescu.
Good enough a reason for Lucescu and his son Razvan, the coach of Bucharest-based club Rapid, to have to face prosecutors’ grilling in the Lottery case.
Elsewhere in the newspapers, Evenimentul Zilei previews the last round of the Romanian football championship that will decide with of the two Romanian teams that faced each other in the UEFA Cup quarterfinals, Steaua and Rapid, earlier this year will take the home title.
It is the second year in a row that the title is decided in the last round. And while Rapid lost to Steaua in the UEFA quarterfinals with two perfectly balanced scores – 1-1, 0-0 – such a score in their games against Petrosani and Vaslui respectively will mean victory for Rapid this time around, according to Evenimentul Zilei.
The same newspaper tries to see why the overwhelming majority of gay celebrities in Romania are hiding their sexual orientation. While most of them admit they’re gay if their identity remains secret, they blame their low profile on the hostile attitude against homosexuals in the country, which they try to deal with through a “police of small steps, not sprints”.
Also in Evenimentul Zilei, farmers in the Eastern Romanian region of Vrancea confront an unprecedented situation – they do not have enough work force to crop their lands because too many of the local workers opt to make a better living on Western farms.
Speaking of better living, Cotidianul presents a less visible side of the country: the luxury in Romania. According to experts quoted in the newspaper, the luxury market is in full swing in Romania, but lacks real investors compared to other CEE countries.
There is a high affinity towards luxury brands especially in the car, drinks, clothes and accessories sectors.
But luxury comes with a price, and the European anti-fraud office OLAF makes sure the price is right, as OLAF head Franz Hermann Bruner says in an interview for Jurnalul National. According to Bruner, the situation is not perfect in Romania, but the country makes large strides in the right direction.
Still, he warns, OLAF would keep a close eye on Romania after its accession to the EU, especially when it comes to the use of European funds.