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What the newspapers say: February 28, 2006

Marţi, 28 februarie 2006, 0:00

Oil, politics and money keep the front pages of Romanian newspapers again on Tuesday. When polls show diminishing trust among Romanians for their top politicians, the media focuses on how leaders in the business and political fields managed to make fortunes. And the muted reverberation the Winter Olympics had in Romania gets a bit louder – and critical to Romanian sports.

The Rompetrol affair and the huge inquiry into alleged crimes by its top management goes on front page again in Gandul. The newspaper reveals that the first accusation against Rompetrol boss Dinu Patriciu relates to company practices at the Stock Exchange.

Fixing and keeping prices for Rompetrol shares at an artificial level was common from the very first day Rompetrol got listed at the Bucharest Exchange, the newspaper writes.

And Romania libera completes the story: Dinu Patriciu sold stocks cheaply and recovered at higher prices. For friends, that is.

For its part, the Saptamana Financiara business weekly tries to identify an oil company that has not been tainted by various scandals yet. "The General Prosecutor’s Office – a refinery of oilmen", it writes, alluding to the many oil businesspeople that have appeared in court under charges of abuse and fraud.

And it notes the criminal inquiries and other scandals that have affected Petrom, Rompetrol and the RAFO refinery hit the profits of the companies hard.

Meanwhile, Cotidianul tries to establish the mechanisms people with money and influence receive more gains in the world of business,

And it counts two ways. The normal one comes from special services Romanian banks and investment funds now provide to people with big money, who may hope a 100% profit for their investment within a year.

The second, and more mysterious one is proven by the opposition Social Democratic party (PSD). Inquiries into how former PSD dignitaries have built their fortune betrays an apparently innocent mechanism that raised suspicions with its impressive repetitiveness.

Each of these dignitaries had personal deals and transactions with other PSD members or with close friends who, apparently, registered losses in favor of those under investigation now. But just apparently.

Because Adrian Nastase, the ex-PM and current speaker of the House who is investigated for corruption, missed front page headlines for a couple of days, Adevarul publishes details of a public opinion poll showing Nastase lost 16% of his popularity following the scandals and criminal inquiries related to his fortune.

PSD also loses the support of Romanians, dropping to 23%, while the governing D.A. Alliance ups above the 50% threshold (51%).

Too bad for the alliance that it happens so far: the two parties forming the D.A., the Liberals and the Democrats, were ready for divorce yesterday, as Ziua writes.

Less concerned with politics, tabloid Ziarul provides a short retrospective on Romania’s participation to the Winter Olympics in Turin.

A sad one, one may say: The highest place received by Romanian athletes in the competition was 14 – Gheorghe Chiper for male skating, and Eva Tofalvi, Dana Potlogea, Mihaela Purdea, Alexandra Rusu in the women’s 3x6 km biathlon.

The Romanian male sleigh team took the 15th place, while everybody else failed to climb up from the bottom.

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