Embattled Romanian oil tycoon steps down from board of Rompetrol
BUCHAREST, Romania – A Romanian oil tycoon who is being investigated for alleged financial wrongdoing has stepped down from the board of his Romanian company Rompetrol Refining (RRC), the company said Monday.The Bucharest stock exchange suspended the company from trading on Friday, when prosecutors asked a court to issue an arrest warrant for Dinu Patriciu. The court refused, citing procedural errors by prosecutors, who later appealed the ruling.Analysts had urged Patriciu to distance himself from the company pending the investigation’s outcome.Philip Stephenson, a company executive who is also being investigated by prosecutors on similar charges, has also stepped down from the board.Patriciu, a Liberal politician who built Rompetrol into a major regional player on the oil market, remains chairman of the Netherlands-based The Rompetrol Group N.V. (TRG), which owns a majority stake in the Romanian company.Some of the charges stem from a dispute over $85 million in money that was owed to Rompetrol by a Spanish company before Rompetrol was privatized in 1993. Prosecutors claim the money belonged to the government and Patriciu used it illegally, while the businessman claims the money belonged to Rompetrol.He has claimed the investigation is politically motivated and his company has sued Romania for $100 million in an international arbitration court, claiming the investigation was abusive and was damaging its business.Rompetrol has also filed a $1 million suit against the Romanian Intelligence Service, claiming that Patriciu’s telephones had been tapped without a proper warrant in 2004.The company had a turnover of about $2.5 billion last year. In January, Rompetrol acquired France-based oil group Dyneff SA for an undisclosed amount.