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Credit Suisse manager to remain in jail during Romanian probe

A Romanian court overruled an earlier decision to free a Credit Suisse Group manager, meaning he will stay in jail for another month during a probe of state asset sales, defense and prosecution lawyers said.

The decision will keep Vadim Benyatov Credit Suisse's managing director for central and eastern Europe, in a Bucharest jail as he faces a probe into the sale of state utilities and services, said Cristian Iordanescu, his lawyer. „Mr. Benyatov will now have to stay in jail until about January 18, if there's no extension,” Iordanescu, who says his client has cancer, said in a phone interview last Saturday.

Prosecution spokesman Robert Cazanciuc confirmed the statement. Romania's High Court of Justice on December 18 rejected appeals by three other men, including two Romanian government officials and a Bulgarian man, to be set free during the probe. All four men have denied any wrongdoing. The criminal investigation is the first involving international investment bankers in Romania since the nation's break with communism in 1990. „Neither Credit Suisse nor Vadim's lawyers have had an opportunity to review the prosecution evidence,” Credit Suisse said in an e-mailed statement on Friday. „In these circumstances, we are concerned that the decision to prolong his detention in custody will place an unnecessary burden on Vadim given the poor state of his health.”

The other three jailed November 29 were Dorinel Mucea, the deputy head of the Romanian agency in charge of energy 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 November 22. Codrut Seres, who resigned as Romania's economy minister on December 3, also said December 20 that prosecutors accused him of „treason” in connection with the investigation. Seres denied the accusations and was not charged.

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. (Bloomberg)