Muresan, Murphy, Naggar, Nambu

61.  Muresan, Sever   (1948 –     )

Former Romanian tennis pro who married a French woman he met while on tour, and later set up a Franco-Romanian bread products business (Paniro SA) from his base in Dijon, France. Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu allowed Muresan to live abroad in the 1980’s. After the fall of communism in 1989, Muresan, using political and business connections, was able to borrow huge sums of money from Romania’s first private bank, Dacia Felix, on false pretences using off-shore stratagems, which included the participation of a Fribourg company, Corynsa SA.

These loans were not repaid, but in the meantime, Muresan was able to use the bank’s money to buy a controlling interest (68%) in Dacia Felix. One of Romania’s celebrated post-communist nouveaux riches, Muresan’s popularity reached a high-point in 1996 when he invited former U.S. President George H.W. Bush to a grandiose tennis tournament he organized in Bucharest. Bush and Muresan teamed up for an exhibition doubles match which they won (Bush and Muresan are on the right in the photo below).


Muresan’s thievery caught up with him when the Romanian regime changed, and eventually, he was arrested in Hungary (see photo, below). Under indictment in France and Switzerland, Muresan spent time in French and Swiss jails only to be extradited to Romania where authorities let him go free.–un-homme-d-affaires-roumain-condamn%C3%A9-%C3%A0-gen%C3%A8ve/1770798


The Dacia Felix case continued for another 10 years, however, and Muresan was finally obliged in 2008 to pay a fine of $100 million and 10 million French francs.

scan0001The above article on the rise and fall of Sever Muresan (literally: “the Glory and the Decay”), reflects some of the more salient scandals in Muresan’s life, e.g. his being accused (and later acquitted) of hiring a thug to kill his Swiss business partner, Rolf G., who it turned out had been convicted of pedophilia while on a visit to Romania, or more recently a bogus real-estate project which took deposits from people but failed to follow through on its promises to build a Bucharest community of luxury homes. Each time, Muresan left his investors high and dry. Due to his draining of Dacia Felix, the meager savings of many modest Romanians were wiped out.

Fribourg co.: Corynsa SA, Matières premières, en part pétroliers, etc., comm., courtage,  Cap 0,1  (23.12.93, 4.3.94)   Bd. de Pérolles 55

62.  Murphy, Gerald   (1928 –     )

Harvard Business School graduate and alleged friend of former president Ronald Reagan. In a front-page New York Times article (Oct 11, 1993), Murphy is described as Los Angeles-based Erly Industries’ “affable and strong-willed chief executive and the company’s largest shareholder.” Erly was investigated for its rice sales to Iraq, which were financed by the Atlanta branch of Banco Nationale del Lavoro using U.S. Commodity Credit Corporation loans. Erly, which is a public company, never informed its shareholders of the investigation. On Dec. 9th, 1993, Christopher Drogoul, BNL’s Atlanta manager, was sentenced to 37 months in jail for allegedly granting up to $5 billion in secret loans to help Iraq in its weapons build-up.

A mysterious Jordanian middleman, Wafai Dajani, had a powerful influence over Drogoul and persuaded him to finance (Erly subsidiary) Comet Rice’s sales to Iraq using CCC loan guarantees. Dajani, who often boasted of his contacts in the State Department and the Central Intelligence Agency, also used his connections to help Comet obtain a $4 million State Department Agency for International Development (AID) loan for Comet’s rice-bagging plant in Aquaba, Jordan. This arrangement enabled Comet to capture 80% of all rice sales to Iraq subsidized by the U.S. Government. But there were rumors of kickbacks to Iraqi officials and the suspicion that Comet’s AID loans were being channeled into Iraq’s  arms procurement operations.

In the 1980’s and early 1990’s, Erly, through its RCH (Rice Corporation of Haiti), cornered the rice market in Haiti with the help of AID grants and American rice subsidies, and drove poor Haitian rice farmers out of business.

“Erly was delisted from NASDAQ in July 1993 when it failed to meet minimum capital and surplus requirements, but was later reinstated” (“Special Issue Report on Rice Corporation of Haiti,” Washington Office on Haiti, 10/27/95). In 1998, a federal judge ordered Murphy and his son Douglas to stop “divesting a long list of corporate and personal assets ranging from company stock to luxury cars.” (Houston Business Journal, 8/7/98). Murphy and his son were caught trying to liquidate assets that would have been subject to a judgment of $18 million against the Murphys and their publically traded companies.

Because of these travails, Gerald Murphy resigned as chairman of the company, but in 2007, his son Douglas, who had taken over as CEO, was sentenced under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act to 68 months in prison for trying to bribe Haitian officials to lower his taxes.

N.B.: Gerald Murphy’s first name is given as “Gerard” in the directory of Fribourg’s public companies.

A rice field in Haiti’s Artibonite Valley

Fribourg co. : ECI Produits SA (Formerly : Riviana Produits SA), Production, mise en valeur, traitement, achat, vente, commerce et exécution d’opérations relatives à des produits aliment. et agricoles, etc. Cap 1,1361.  (19.7.72, 14.1.83) Rue de Lausanne 82. chez Me Philippe von der Weid

Guy Naggar (L.); Peter Klimt (R)

63.  Naggar, Guy   (1944 –     )

French-born merchant banker who teamed up with Peter Klimt, a Mumbai-born tax lawyer, to run the sprawling property and financial services empire Dawnay Day. Hugely ambitious, the duo ran the company into the ground when they were financially overextended as the financial crisis hit in 2008.

Naggar and his wife filled Dawnay Day’s London offices with world-class contemporary works of art, including, most famously, Lucian Freud’s painting of a 280-pound nude entitled “Benefits Supervisor Sleeping.” When their empire crashed, Naggar put his controversial painting up for auction. It was sold to Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich for $34 million, a record at the time for a painting by a living artist (Freud has since died). Abramovich is no. 1 on this list.

In the United States, the amiable Naggar is vilified because of his failed attempt to gentrify a Harlem conglomerate of 47 rent-stabilized apartment buildings. After the real-estate market crash and Dawnay Day’s debacle, Christine Haughney writes in The New York Times: “in the 47 buildings, anger, uncertainty and a degree of misery have set in. At tenant meetings, renters complain of gaping holes in their ceilings and walls that allow rats to freely roam. The properties face foreclosure, and it is possible that the buildings may fall back into the hands of the landlord some tenants say neglected them long before they attracted a foreign buyer.” The devastated tenants are angered at the fortune that their London landlords squandered on “yachts and art collections.”

A derelict bathroom in one of Dawnay Day’s Harlem buildings

Fribourg co.: Hofiba Holding SA, Participations, etc., Cap 0,552. (19.12.84, 16.4.85)  Rue de Romont 14. Chez Me Jean-Marie Cottier, avocat et notaire

64.  Nambu, Yasuyuki   (1952 –     )

Billionaire Japanese temp agency tycoon, who at the age of 24 borrowed $30,000 and created the first temp agency in Japan, dispatching female workers to companies throughout the country.

Fribourg co.: Souvest SA, Investir des fonds dans des enterprises   commerciales, etc.  Cap 0,05.  (23.10.84) Rue Hans-Fries 1. chez Me Jean a. Andrey

NEXT TIME : Oliver North & the Iran-contra Conspiracy AND the Geneva-Fribourg-Panama Connection

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