The Social Democratic (PSD) candidate for Romanian presidency Mircea Geoana appears to have met businessman Sorin Ovidiu Vantu late on Wednesday night, according to a set of pictures and information received by HotNews.ro on Thursday. Sorin Ovidiu Vantu is a media group owner who has stated his opposition to Geoana's rival, incumbent president Traian Basescu, who also runs for presidency. Contacted by HotNews.ro, S.O. Vantu - who owns a media group including news station Realitatea TV - said he would not make any statement until December 7. Geoana's campaign representatives said they don't know of any such meeting.
Mircea Geoana admitted in an interview published by sports newspaper Gazeta Sporturilor on Thursday that he had met two or three times with Vantu in the past for talks on "the financial and banking system in Romania".
Sorin Ovidiu Vantu said that "until December 7 I would not make any statement. I don't want to comment. On December 7 I will make a public statement. I am not an actor in this campaign", he said.
PSD representatives Liviu Dragnea said he did not believe Geoana met Vantu on Wednesday night. And Cozmin Gusa from Geoana's electoral campaign staff said he did not believe such meeting took place.
According to HotNews.ro information, Mircea Geoana visited Sorin Ovidiu Vantu at Vantu's home in Bucharest as news appeared that a man formerly close to Vantu's business, Nicolae Popa, was arrested in Jakarta, according to Romanian News agency Mediafax. Popa was arrested on Wednesday. Known as Vantu's "right-hand man", Popa was sentenced to 15 years by a Bucharest court in 2006 under charges of embezzlement.
According to Mediafax, the Justice Ministry was informed by Interpol about Popa's arrest based on a warrant issued by Romanian authorities.
Nicolae Popa was manager of the Gelsor group and a member of Trust Council of Sov Invest, the firm which managed a fund which collapsed about a decade ago, raising accusations that Sorin Ovidiu Vantu allegedly built his fortune on the losses of people who put their money into that fund. Nicolae Popa fled Romania in 2000.