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Credit Suisse manager freed from Romanian jail during probe

A Romanian court freed a Credit Suisse Group manager after he spent three weeks in jail while authorities investigate alleged irregularities in state asset sales, the executive's lawyer said.

Vadim Benyatov Credit Suisse's managing director for central and eastern Europe, still faces a probe associated with the sale of state utilities and services, said Cristian Iordanescu, Benyatov's lawyer. „Benyatov will be freed immediately,” Iordanescu said in a telephone interview today. „The court hasn't yet stated the reasons for the decision.” Romania's High Court of Justice on December 18 rejected appeals by three others, including two Romanian government officials and a Bulgarian man, who requested to be set free during the probe. All four men have denied any wrongdoing through their lawyers. The appeal of Benyatov, who is suffering from cancer, was separate from that of the other three, Iordanescu said. The probe is the first criminal investigation involving international investment bankers in Romania since the nation's break with communism in 1990. The country is preparing to join the European Union on January 1.

The other three men jailed November 29 were Dorinel Mucea, the deputy head of the Romanian agency in charge of energy-industry asset sales, Stamen Stancev, a Bulgarian investment consultant, and Mihai Donciu, a Romanian Communications Ministry adviser. Benyatov, a US citizen, and the others are being investigated for „undermining Romania's national security” and economic espionage related to the sale of Romanian assets, prosecutors said in a statement issued November 22. Credit Suisse, the second-biggest Swiss bank, advised on the sale of Romanian energy assets in 2004 and also won a contract from Romania in January to advise the government on the sale of its remaining 46% stake in phone company Romtelecom SA. The Zurich-based firm has said it's prepared to cooperate fully with Romanian officials. The bank said November 29 that it had „no reason to believe that any Credit Suisse employee has acted inappropriately.” (Bloomberg)