Ex-Rabin Aide Shimon Sheves Accused of Corruption In Romania

Romanian prosecutors accused the Israeli billionaire Beny Steinmetz and several other Israelis of conducting illicit real estate deals that cost the state nearly $150 million.

Judicial sources in Bucharest said they believed Steinmetz, a mining magnate, and Shimon Sheves, the former chief of staff of the late Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, as well as the Israeli political consultant Tal Ziberstein, conspired with the Romanian businessman Remus Truica to illicitly bring about the transfer of state-held lands to another Romanian citizen, the Romania Libera daily reported on Thursday.

According to Israel’s Army Radio, spokespersons for all three Israelis denied their involvement in illegal actions attributed to Truica, a media tycoon who was arrested on Wednesday and incarcerated by the Brasov Court of Appeals pending further investigation.

But the Romanian prosecutors say they recorded a telephone conversation between Steinmetz and Truica, in which they discuss the transfer of lands claimed by Paul-Philippe Hohenzollern, a Romanian prince (whose father was the elder son of Romania’s King Carol II).

Hohenzollern was questioned Friday afternoon and later handcuffed and detained in the central city of Brasov, where the probe is being conducted. He denies wrongdoing and says he is a victim of Truica.

A transcript of the conversation published by the daily has Steinmetz asking Truica whether any additional action was necessary to secure the transfer of lands to the prince.

Sheves, Zilberstein and Steinmetz belonged to “a criminal group that aimed to acquire the whole property claimed by Prince Paul as proceeds of crime of corruption acquired by providing money or goods to officials/institutions holding these properties to influence their decisions by inciting, aiding and abetting to commit abuse of office by these persons,” Romania Libera quoted from a document written by the prosecutors, in which they reportedly sought the issuing of an arrest warrant against the Israelis.

Romania’s National Anticorruption Directorate reportedly believes that Hohenzollern, also known as Paul Lambrino, hired Truica in 2006 to help him illegally recover a number of properties of which he claimed to be the rightful owner, and he, in turn, allegedly recruited Steinmetz, Zilberstein and Sheves.

The group managed to return several properties to Hohenzollern, local media reports said. In exchange for their services, Truica and his associates were compensated between 50% to 80% of the assets’ value.

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  1. The Romanian media reports Israeli businessmen Beny Steinmetz, Shimon Sheves and Tal Silberstein are allegedly involved in bribes for land in Bucharest.

    Romania’s National Anticorruption Directorate has revealed in a dramatic official announcement an alleged corruption scandal involving several senior government officials including Prince Paul-Phillip Hohenzollen. According to reports in the Romanian media, three Israeli businessmen have also been allegedly involved in the affair Shimon Sheves, Tal Silberstein and Beny Steinmetz. Earlier last week, a former senior Romanian government official Remus Truica was arrested in the matter as the main suspect in the fraud and money laundering affair, as well as Dan Andronic, CEO of the popular daily newspaper “Evenimentul Zilei.” Other senior Romanian figures were also arrested.

    According to the allegations, Truica led extensive real estate fraud that began in 2006 and caused damage estimated at €136 million. As part of the operations allegedly led by Truica, the group illegally bought government land covering 170,000-sq.m. in the north of Bucharest, after bribing various officials and with the direct involvement of Prince Paul.

    Truica denies the deeds attributed to him as does Prince Paul who was called in for questioning at DNA’s headquarters in Brasov last week but was taken ill en route and required medical treatment. It is not yet known whether an arrest warrant has been put out for the three Israelis.

    Sheves served in the early 1990s as director general of the Prime Minister’s office under then Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Tal Silberstein has been a political advisor for Israeli prime ministers Ehud Barak, Ehud Olmert and Benjamin Netanyahu, and Beny Steinmetz is one of Israel’s wealthiest businessmen who regularly appears on “Forbes” wealth list, and has also been under investigation in Guinea regarding mining rights.

    The Romanian media has published a transcript of an alleged conversation between Steinmetz, Trucia and another unidentified person. In the conversation, Trucia tells Steinmetz, “As you know, Tal’s (Silberstein) friend hasn’t done a thing, but we have found somebody who is supposed to do it, and we’ve found another person too, and we have the tools, and tomorrow at 10 there is a meeting at the institute. I’ll be going with the prince (Paul) and the lawyer, and I hope there will be a good outcome.”

    “And what happens then?” Steinmetz allegedly asks. Trucia answers. “Nothing. Just one signature and its ours.” The unidentified person adds, “And then it’s ours? That means we can begin work on the land? Trucia answers, “Yes it’s 100% ours just like your car. Absolutely yours. The three men then laugh and Trucia closes the conversation by saying, “There will probably be a small payment we will need to make to these people but it is not a lot.”

    A spokesman for Steinmetz said, “The allegations are groundless.”

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