The Bucharest Court on Friday evening March 3 denied a petition by the General Prosecutor’s Office of Romania (GPO) to place Philip Stephenson, Vice Chairman of The Rompetrol Group NV (TRG), in pre-trial detention for 30 days. The Court reached a similar decision with that reached February 24 concerning TRG Chairman Dinu Patriciu. These verdicts confirm again both the lack of real evidence at the GPO and their continuing abusive and illegal tactics in this procedure.
Mr. Stephenson pointed out in his defense on March 3 that:
He had returned to Romania voluntarily, since he has not been legally served with a subpoena under the terms of the US-Romania Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty;
He made the decision to return out of respect for the authority of the court and his trust in its independence, as opposed to his view of the GPO which repeatedly uses abusive and illegal tactics under both Romanian and international law;
He believes this case is still motivated by both strong political and economic interests (as TRG intends to prove at the World Bank ICSID arbitration tribunal in Washington, DC);
That he is neither a flight risk nor a “threat to the public order” of Romania.
On exiting the courtroom, Mr. Stephenson noted that he thought justice had been done, reiterated his innocence, and hoped that this could be a turning point in the proceedings. He later added: “by denying such abusive GPO requests, the Romanian courts show a professional, independent and transparent approach to justice. I am hopeful – but far from certain – that this will cause prosecutorial abuses in this case against me and my fellow managers to stop.”
TRG will continue to manage its business with determination so as to remedy the negative effects caused so far by this harassment. Strong teams have been put in place in TRG’s Amsterdam headquarters as well as the major subsidiaries (France, Romania, Switzerland, and Russia in particular). We have also worked very hard to (a) broaden and deepen our management team in all these places (including recruitment of a new Group COO, Andre Naniche, who joined TRG from BP-TNK), and (b) put in place detailed contingency plans for any eventuality that could result from this investigation.