US banker held on business espionage charges in Romania

BUCHAREST (AP) – A senior US investment banker has been arrested in Romania on charges of commercial espionage, prosecutors said yesterday. A Bulgarian and two Romanian privatization officials have also been detained. Vadim Benyatov, managing director in the Investment Banking Department of Credit Suisse First Boston Europe in London, and Bulgarian Stamen Stancev, a consultant working for CSFB, had been detained. Benyatov is responsible for the bank’s business in Central and Eastern Europe. Two Romanian officials – Mihai Dorinel Mucea, who heads a state privatization department, and Radu Mihai Donciu, a former adviser to the minister for communications – have been detained on the same charges. Four other people, including another privatization official, are also being investigated in the case but have not been detained. Secret documents Prosecutors say the group, allegedly led by Stancev, obtained secret commercial documents which they provided to foreign companies participating in the sale of Romanian state-owned companies. Credit Suisse said in a statement sent to The Associated Press that the bank had «no reason to believe that any Credit Suisse employee has acted inappropriately,» adding it would «cooperate fully with the investigation.» The statement said it would not comment further until «we have a clear understanding of the basis for these allegations.» Some of the officials being investigated were involved in high-profile privatizations, including the 2004 sale of a 51 percent stake in the largest Romanian oil company, Petrom, to Austria’s OMV for -1.5 billion (US$1.8 billion).

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