Hamas Allegedly Involved In Romanian EUR2.2M Bank Fraud

Some of the EUR2.2 million stolen in February from the BRD bank branch in southern Romanian city Craiova, was allegedly meant for the financing of terrorist group Hamas, through the head of the network, an Iranian citizen, according to sources among investigators.

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Hamas Allegedly Involved In Romanian EUR2.2M Bank Fraud

According to the sources, the Iranian citizen was allegedly supposed to receive the money through a Turkish connection and forward it, but the case file does not yet contain all evidence proving this theory. The hearing was postponed, since the coordinator of the network requested a Persian translator in court.

Mihaela Rosana Bitu, employee of BRD Craiova, is charged by organized crime prosecutors with having appropriated the sum of RON8 million (EUR1 = RON3.6347), money that she transferred and withdrew without authorization, using the branch director’s password, according to the Public Ministry.

Three other people were arrested together with Bitu - Doru Meosu, Paul Vasile Manzu and Osman Tunc -, the latter being a Turkish citizen who lived in Bucharest. Tunc and Bitu appealed the decision of preventive arrest, but the Timisoara Court of Appeal decided to reject the appeal. Later in the trial Eugen Florescu was arrested as well.

According to investigators, half of the RON8 million were transferred into the account of the Turkish citizen, who was arrested as he waited to withdraw the money from a BRD branch in Bucharest. The difference went to the account of Doru Meosu, an account opened at an agency in Timisoara.

On February 1, 2008, Meosu managed to make a cash withdrawal worth RON1.5 million. As soon as he made the withdrawal, Meosu gave the money to Paul Vasile Manzu, who gave the bag of money to someone who was expecting him outside the bank.

According to legal sources, Doru Meosu, a well-known member of the Timisoara underworld, intended to go to Panama, after he emptied the account. The information was obtained when investigators, helped by the Romanian Intelligence Service, monitored Meosu’s telephone conversations, as soon as he withdrew the RON1.5 million.

Meosu was also involved in a car bombing attempt, in Timisoara. In March 2000, a luxury car trafficking cell in Oradea, which went into conflict with Meosu’s group, allegedly plotted his demise using a bomb hidden in a car that was supposed to go to Meosu. The bomb was made of approximately on kilogram of dynamite and Romanian detonating caps, and was placed on an Alfa Romeo car. The bomb accidentally went off at the entrance Timisoara and two people were killed in the explosion.

A sixth person was arrested in this case late February, a known member of the Craiova underworld Farid Jahani ("Paul Valuta"), who has triple citizenship – Romanian, Iranian and Swedish. Jahani was charged with theft, forgery, money laundering and fraud.

At the time, sources close to the investigation said initial investigations revealed Jahani as the mastermind behind the BRD Craiova operation.

If the Hamas theory is proven, the people involved might also be charged with financing a terrorist organization.

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