Posts from "May, 2015"

Buzaianu, Charles, Choukroun, Cornfeld


15.  Buzaianu, Nicolae Bogdan   (1968-     )

One of the richest Romanian energy tycoons, who were known as the smart guys. These savvy wheeler-dealers managed to grab control of Romania’s lucrative energy sector in the early post-Communist era. While still a student in the mid-1990’s, The Swiss-based Buzaianu ingratiated himself with influential Romanian leaders—e.g. Romania’s ambassador to Switzerland Radu Boroianu –and by 1997 was able to win a contract worth hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade Romania’s huge “Iron Gates” (Portile de Fier) hydroelectric plants on the Danube River. The “smart guys” were adept at obtaining below-market terms in buying the rights to distribute electricity from the impoverished (and politically corrupt) Romanian government. For example, the smart guys’ distribution companies would buy energy from Hidroelectrica at $25.- per megawatt and sell it back to the state at $80 – $90.  p.13

It has been estimated that between 2006 and 2012, Hidroelectrica, which owns most of Romania’s power plants, lost € 1.3 billion in profits because of these below-market deals with private distribution companies.

During this period, 60% of Hidroelectrica’s electricity was sold to Buzaianu’s company “Energy Holding Sarl” which was 95% owned by Buzaianu’s Fribourg company Energy Consult SA ECSA, with the remaining 5% owned by the Cypriot off-shore company Atell Investments.

Investigations were launched in Britain and Romania in the early 21st century to determine how Buzaianu and his associates were able to convince the Romanian government to sell them electricity so far below market value. The Romanian investigation accuses Buzaianu and other smart guys of “undermining the national economy.”

Perhaps because so much of Buzaianu’s business was conducted by a murky network of Swiss, British, and Cypriot companies, these investigations never resulted in charges being pressed.

Buzaianu’s Romanian critics claim that he has tried to remake himself as a “philanthropic” Swiss citizen (he obtained Swiss citizenship in about 2006). They claim that he even went so far as to change his name from the Slavic “Nicolae” to the French “Nicolas”(Fribourg’s patron saint is St. Nicolas). His critics believe that he became a Swiss “Fribourgeois” in order to shelter himself from eventual Romanian and British prosecution: Switzerland is not a member of the European Union, and therefore is not always subject to the laws of the Common Market countries.

Buzaianu has also been accused by his detractors of funneling money outside Romania, perhaps by using suspicious companies he founded in the British Virgin Islands secrecy jurisdiction (Buzaianu figures on the “Off-shore Leaks” investigative website). See: “ICIS Offshore Leaks Database”  Read More