All newspapers on Thursday discuss a New York Times article that suggests that the Smithfield operations in Romania and Poland may have something to do with the swine flu endemics. In other news, a wind of bankruptcy blows near the Romanian football star Mutu.

The Smithfield operations in Romania and Poland, opened and conducted with a little help from high level politicians, including an US ambassador to Bucharest, are the subject of an investigative article in New York Times that stirred a huge scandal on Wednesday. Health Minister Ion Bazac even organized a press conference late in the night, in order to deny all accusations made in the article.

"The connections in the upper reaches of government meant that Smithfield could weather protests from local communities. The company was fined €9,000 for spilling manure on a local highway while transporting waste from a leaking container; €35,000 for a leaking bin that seeped hog waste into soil; another €35,000 for four farms operating without permits in Arad County; and €18,500 for not preventing water pollution.

Some villagers, however, concentrate on the advantages. “I have land near them and there’s no problem,” Dorin Mic Aurel, mayor of Masloc, said. Smithfield is the biggest taxpayer in Masloc, contributing $27,000 yearly that helped bring running water to the village.

But Smithfield found it hard to overcome fallout from the swine fever outbreak that struck Cenei. At the time, hog corpses lay in heaps, and residents remember chaotic efforts to shoot and burn them. That particular strain affects only hogs, but scientists have found elements of swine viruses — one from Europe or Asia, the other from North America — in the genetic code of the new influenza A(H1N1) virus", the NYT article reads.

In response, minister Bazac claims that the article is biased and may have something to do with the fact that the NYT owners is a Mexican magnate, Gandul reads.

In the economic news, the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) Minister, Constantin Nita, demanded banks to "step out of the virtual world they live in and start working in the real life". Nita asked the banks to be less superficial and to support small businesses that need financing these days, Evenimentul Zilei informs.

The cement businesses were extremely affected by the slow down in the construction area. The Holcim group announced on Wednesday that its sales dropped 32% during the first quarter of the year, both because of the difficult winter and the market fall in new apartment deals, same Evenimentul Zilei notes.

Football stars may also face financial problems, as Adrian Mutu is about to find out. Not because of the crisis, but because of the heroine scandal he caused while playing for Chelsea. The final verdict in Mutu's case, expected today, may force the player to pay 17 million Euros to the English club. The problem is that his entire wealth - be it of 12 or 14 million Euros, depending on the source - is not enough to cover the amount, Cotidianul reads.