72205 7/21/2006 17:35 06BUCHAREST1171 Embassy Bucharest SECRET VZCZCXRO7939 PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV DE RUEHBM #1171/01 2021735 ZNY SSSSS ZZH P 211735Z JUL 06 FM AMEMBASSY BUCHAREST TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4853 INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 BUCHAREST 001171
STATE DEPT FOR EUR/NCE - SILKWORTH
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/21/2016 TAGS: PGOV, KCOR, KJUS, PREL, PINR, PTER, RO SUBJECT: THREE ROMANIAN INTELLIGENCE CHIEFS AND GENERAL PROSECUTOR RESIGN AFTER OMAR HAYSSAM REPORTED MISSING BEFORE CORRUPTION TRIAL
Classified By: CDA Rodger Garner for Reasons 1.4 B, C, and D
1. (C) Three Romanian Intelligence Chiefs and the General Prosecutor resigned July 20 and 21 amid a media frenzy over Omar Hayssam's disappearance before being prosecuted in court in connection with the 2005 Romanian hostage crisis in Iraq. Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) Director Radu Timofte, External Intelligence Service (SIE) Director Gheorghe Fulga, and Police Intelligence Service (DGPI) Director Virgil Ardelean submitted resignations immediately following a July 20 meeting with President Traian Basescu that centered on why they could not locate Omar Hayssam, who was ordered re-arrested for his involvement in the kidnapping of three Romanian journalists in Iraq. Hayssam had been released from custody by the Bucharest Appeals Court on medical grounds. The President approved all resignations immediately, leading most analysts to conclude that he had specifically asked for them to resign. On July 21, General Prosecutor Ilie Botos resigned after a meeting with President Basescu. Botos confirmed to the Embassy that the President asked him to resign due to a lack of coordination between the prosecutors' office and the intelligence services on the Hayssam case.
2. (S) Leadership of two of the intelligence services will continue under the young deputy directors whom the President appointed last year, Florin Coldea at SRI and Silviu Predoiu at SIE. Many analysts believe they will also be promoted as the President had long indicated he would remove Timofte and Fulga at the right time, and had kept them on only nominally while relying more on the deputy directors. According to the law, the future chiefs of the SRI and SIE should be appointed by Presidential decree, but must be approved by the Parliament and the Supreme Council for National Defense (CSAT). The chief of DGPI should be appointed by the President, following the proposal of Minister of Internal Affairs Vasile Blaga. The future General Prosecutor (GP) must be nominated by Minister of Justice Monica Macovei, confirmed by the Superior Council of Magistrates (CSM), and approved by the President. Deputy General Prosecutor Marcel Sampetru will fill the GP's role in the interim, but according to MOJ contacts, is unlikely to be nominated. While the timing of Botos' resignation caught the office of the Minister of Justice by surprise, the Minister had long made public her wish to replace him, but noted the "political restraints" on doing so up until now. While MOJ contacts refused to speculate who would get the nomination for GP, one analyst pointed to Financial Intelligence Unit board member Flabius Krasnik, who was a former drug prosecutor, as a possibility. The National Anticorruption Directorate's Daniel Morar could be another possibility, but would that would entail his leaving the DNA before any of its major cases achieve convictions in court.
3. (S) Omar Hayssam is popularly referred to as "Romania's number one terrorist" for his involvement in arranging a kidnapping of three Romanian journalists in Iraq. According to credible sources, this kidnapping was allegedly intended to make Hayssam look good when he offered the 4 million euros to free them and was intended to win the government's favor and get the corruption prosecutors off his case. But, his plan went awry when other kidnappers took his hostages. Haysamm's alleged history of corruption includes winning a fixed auction in 2003 for Baneasa SA Industrial Park, even though his bid was lower than the competition's, and he proceeded to ignore obligations and instead sold off the assets for more than 80 times the purchase price. Hayssam also allegedly engaged in asset stripping in another business of his, Agro City Center, that left nine other companies severely damaged through unfulfilled transactions. He has also allegedly been involved with counterfeiting, smuggling, bribery, fraud, and tax evasion. Hayssam has had a wide range of business activities in Romania including forest exploitation, metal exporting, manufacturing electronic components, bottling mineral water, as well involvement in construction, transportation, auto dealerships, and hotels. Hayssam is one of Romania's richest businessmen, with an estimated wealth of $100 million.
4. (C) Comment: Basescu was rumored to have wanted replacement of the three intelligence chiefs for quite some time. The disappearance of Hayssam seems to have provided him with the opportunity for ousting the three. There have been no announcements with regard to their possible replacements, and their agencies will be led by their deputies for the time being. According to many Embassy contacts, Minister of Justice Monica Macovei was long dissatisfied with Botos, whom was believed to be personally close to Basescu. In a recent press interview, Macovei criticized Botos for poor management but stated the only reason she kept Botos on was due to
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unspecified political reasons, interpreted by many to mean Basescu's influence. Botos' resignation -- which came directly at the request of Basescu -- demonstrates Botos had lost the president's confidence, perhaps as a result of supposed mismanagement of the Hayssam case, but more likely more broadly related to the latter's poor record thus far in prosecuting high level corruption cases. TAUBMAN