in the back
Red faces at Adamescu’s antics
Extradition, Issue 1469
alexander-adamescu.jpg
Alexander Adamescu, who did himself and his prominent supporters in the UK no favours by producing a forged document in court
RED faces among the UK politicians who championed wealthy tycoon Alexander Adamescu in his fight against extradition to Romania, where he is accused of bribing two judges.

An unflattering picture of the “not totally credible” Adamescu emerged at Westminster magistrates’ court, where the businessman was claiming he could not get a fair trial in Bucharest. He was, he argued, the victim of a politically driven campaign to strip his family of its substantial business and newspaper empire and influence (a believable claim, given that Romania remains subject to EU monitoring over corruption and judicial reforms).

Adamescu did not do himself or his prominent supporters – including Jacob Rees-Mogg and other Tory libertarians – any favours when, late in the protracted proceedings, he produced what turned out to be a forged document. Purporting to come from the Romanian prison authorities, it appeared to support claims that he would face inhumane treatment if jailed in Romania’s notorious prison system. Instead, the fake document led to him being accused of trying to pervert the course of justice and his bail was revoked.

‘Criminal lawfare’
Adamescu is now in Wandsworth jail awaiting extradition after further bail applications were rejected. Last month a high court judge said only Adamescu stood to benefit from the forgery. There was now “strong evidence” to suggest the millionaire “was willing to resort to unlawful as well as lawful means to resist extradition”.

Adamescu’s father Dan, one of Romania’s richest men, who built an insurance, property and construction consortium after the collapse of communism, had been jailed for four years in 2016 on the same bribery charges as his son. He died in January last year in a private hospital after being taken ill while in prison. Lawyers for his son argued that the “criminal lawfare” case against both was instigated by former prime minister Victor Ponta to silence his opponents (Dan’s influential newspaper, România Liber?, had been very critical of Ponta’s regime).

Adamescu’s lawyers relied heavily on a lengthy “expert” report from SC Strategy Ltd, the shadowy consultancy run by ex-MI6 chief Sir John Scarlett, of Iraq dossier infamy, and crossbencher Lord Carlile QC, a former independent adviser on terrorism. But the consultancy didn’t come out of the case well either.

Scarlett’s ‘dodgy dossier’
Its report was largely based on third-hand anonymous informants, whose accounts were then purportedly verified thanks to the “expertise” of Scarlett and Lord Carlile. It claimed the prosecution in Romania was based on the word of two witnesses who had been threatened and intimidated. The anti-corruption squad, the report said, had produced no written evidence to support its claim that cash had been handed over to the judges.

However, Tim Owen, the QC for the Romanian prosecuting authorities, told the court that was “totally untrue” and said that had Scarlett been in the witness box he would have asked him if he was happy to have his name on another “dodgy dossier”. He said there was evidence that a man called Remus Borza had shopped his own wife – a lawyer involved in the Adamescu allegations – along with a number of “corrupt” members of the Romanian judiciary. His wife later admitted facilitating bribery, one judge pleaded guilty to accepting bribes and a second was also convicted. There were also tape recordings of conversations and videoed meetings.

In terse exchanges with Owen, Lord Carlile admitted he had never heard of Borza and there had been little effort to assess the strength of the prosecution case. He said: “I have placed before the court evidence of numerous sources showing an unfair justice system in which Mr Adamescu runs a serious risk of not having a fair trial.”

The magistrate, Judge John Zani, seemed unimpressed. He found that neither Lord Carlile nor the report met the standard for admissible expert evidence. Lord Carlile was no expert on Romania, had little first-hand knowledge of facts set out in the report, and had no explanation why there were not even redacted or anonymised statements from any source.

Giving the go-ahead for extradition, the magistrate said he knew of no other case where extradition had been refused to a fellow EU country, where the presumption must be that member states will abide by their convention obligations and provide a fair trial. Ponta was no longer in power – and indeed now faces corruption proceedings of his own.

However, no one expects extradition any time soon. Adamescu is to appeal the decision.

More top stories in the latest issue:

EMPTY SHELL THREATS
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DON’T CARE HOME
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EYE TOLD YOU SO…
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STEW YOU
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TRICK OR TREAT
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LIBOR TRIALS AND ERROR
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HIGH PRINCIPALS
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BRENT OUT OF SHAPE
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LEGAL AIDING AND ABETTING
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DURHAM’S ROBO COPS
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BIG DATA, BASE MOTIVES
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ALLIED SURRENDER
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Private Eye Issue 1468