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The government of Romania versus the Adamescu family

Last Wednesday, I attended a meeting at the Frontline Club, which is near Paddington Station in west London. The meeting was devoted to the memory of the great Romanian businessman and freedom-championing newspaper owner Dan Adamescu, and the danger now facing Dan’s son Alexander Adamescu. Some friends of mine are also Friends of Alexander Adamescu, and this is me trying to help them.

Encouraged by the organisers, I took photos at that meeting, photos of very variable quality, because of my woeful inexperience in what for me were very imperfect lighting conditions. But, I hope that the best of them may be of some use to the cause, and assist Alexander Adamescu’s friends in stirring up more media attention.

The cause being that Dan Adamescu was, just over one year ago, imprisoned to death, so to speak, by the government of Romania, and that the government of Romania has for some time now been trying to do something similar to Dan’s son Alexander, after he complained what was being done to his father.

Here is a picture of the big picture of the late Dan Adamescu that presided over the meeting, beneath which sat Alexander Adamescu, who spoke at the meeting:

As you can see, I did a bit of photomanipulation there, to make it clearer what Alexander Adamescu looks like.

Alexander Adamescu now lives in London with his wife (who also spoke most eloquently about Dan Adamescu) and young family. But the government of Romania wants the British government to hand Alexander over to them, so that they can inflict upon him the same sort of parody of justice that they inflicted upon his father. Their instrument of choice to accomplish this is the European Arrest Warrant.

What you think of this matter will depend a lot on what you think of the government of Romania. I recommend a watch of this brief (1m 44s) bit of video to get a better idea than you may have had until now of what the current government of Romania is like. And here is another guy, talking in particular about how the Romanian secret service, of which he used to be a member and from which he resigned because he couldn’t stomach how they were behaving, have been pressurising Romania’s judiciary to deliver the verdicts they want. Another report: here.

At the heart of the Romanian government’s horribleness is that it has set up what it and its supporters describe as an anti-corruption process, but that this process is itself being used in a deeply corrupt way, to settle political scores, by fabricating charges of corruption against people who are being a nuisance to the government. Dan Adamescu, who owned a freedom supporting newspaper, made a big nuisance of himself to the Romanian government, and this is what they did to him.

Defending the rights of a tycoon, and of his son and heir, is maybe not an easy sell. Can such personages not look after themselves? Are there not numerous cases of injustice in the world that are far more deserving of everyone’s attention? Worst of all: given all the smoke that the government of Romania is contriving, might there not be some fire? Maybe Dan Adamescu is guilty.

Personally, I am persuaded that, as so often when governments persecute individuals, this is all smoke and no fire. No, Dan Adamescu was not guilty of any crime, and nor is his son.

Nor, by the way, is his son’s wife, whom some thugs tried, about a year ago, to kidnap by bundling her into a car, in London. Luckily, a neighbour saw it and the thugs gave up their attempt and drove away without their intended prize. If you believe that this was a coincidence, and had nothing to do with the legal persecution of her husband, then you’ll believe anything.

But what about that “more deserving cases” argument? What I, putting on my English history fanboy hat, would say about that is that a lot in a country hinges upon how the people at the very summit of power treat other powerful but not quite so powerful personages. Here in England, Magna Carta began its life as a piece of written ammunition crafted in the course of a fight between the king of England and the aristocrats of England. Yet, over subsequent centuries, Magna Carta came to mean a great deal more than that, to a great many more people than had originally been envisaged. It isn’t only wealth that trickles down. Human rights, as we now call these things, also trickle down. When grandees treat each other justly, rather than in the barbarous way that Dan Ademescu was treated by the Romanians just above him in the Romanian pecking order, that is good news for all people, not just grandees.

Another example. I remember when I heard about how Nikita Krushchev had been deposed as the boss of the USSR, but not killed. This was in 1964 and I was pretty young at the time, but even then, I think I knew that this was some kind of turning point for Soviet Russia, and not in a bad way. Intrinsic to the terror that had prevailed throughout the USSR under Krushchev’s abominable predecessor, Joseph Stalin, was that Stalin’s immediate circle of underlings also existed in a state of abject terror.

If you live in a world where accomplished, charismatic and rich personages like Dan Adamescu are not safe, nobody is. If, on the other hand, such grandees are treated with justice rather than with brutality, everyone else has a better chance of getting fair treatment also.

34 comments to The government of Romania versus the Adamescu family

  • Paul Marks

    The European Union spends a lot of time bashing Poland – which is NOT a tyranny. Yet it ignores what is happening in Romania – which actually is terrible.

    Would someone please explain this.

    As for Brian’s point about the rule of law for everyone or for no one – yes I agree. Contrary to Thomas Hobbes if someone else is attacked by the state (even someone I do not like for X,Y,Z reasons) it is very much my business. One should stand for the rights of other human beings (including ones one does not like) against a state that seeks to rob or murder them, even if this means that one loses one’s own life.

    Brute survival (as an animal or a flesh robot) is not enough – what matters is survival as a human being (a moral agent, an “I” – contrary to David Hume), if one can not have that then (contrary to flesh robot Thomas Hobbes) better DEATH.

    We must not accept the “euthanasia of the constitution” (what Mr Hume regarded as a trivial event – or even something to be supported), we must stand up for the fundamental liberties of persons (moral agency), both at home and abroad. For we are all human beings (regardless of the country we are in) with fundamental rights under natural moral law.

  • Michael Taylor

    Sounds like nothing much has changed since the Balkans Trilogy.

  • Mr Ecks

    Is there owt practical to be done? Is money needed or would a complaint to their Embassy have any positive effect? If so where should both/either be sent?

  • Alisa

    You may have missed this bit, Mr. Ecks.

  • Sometimes the best thing to do is generate publicity and try to embarrass the relevant political authorities.

  • Mr Ecks

    Alisa–I voted to destroy the EAW on 23/6/16.

    Thanks to the Fish-Faced Cow no such luck of course.

  • Alisa

    Then more power to you, Mr. Ecks. Here’s still hoping it was not in vain.

  • Dan Lungu

    “Defending the rights of a tycoon, and of his son and heir, is maybe not an easy sell.”
    Exactly. That’s why you have to charge a good fee.

  • Jacob

    The story you present (including the links) is very one-sided.
    I have absolutely no knowledge about Mr Adamescu, and what I’m writing is pure conjecture.

    No one does business in MOST countries in the world (surely including Romania) without paying bribes to politicians, government officials and judges. There ain’t such thing. Adamescu was a substantial businessman, ergo – he probably paid bribes. [The cautious formulation is because I’m afraid of libel suits]. Why was he incarcerated (and died in prison)? I have no idea. Maybe he was bankrupt and fell behind in his bribes. Maybe he paid the wrong person. Maybe his chums lost power and he failed to pay-off the new beasts. Maybe he miscalculated.
    The story, as presented by his friends and his son is incomplete. It’s one sided. It’s too simple.

    Does the EU have to extradite people to such countries where you get thrown in jail for falling behind on your bribing? Does the EU have to respect warrants from such [kangaroo] courts? What other choice is there? How can a West European court distinguish between these “dubious” criminals and true ones?

  • Sam Duncan

    “I voted to destroy the EAW on 23/6/16.

    Thanks to the Fish-Faced Cow no such luck of course.”

    Yep. Like Alisa, I live in hope, though.

  • Jacob (January 29, 2018 at 7:08 pm), I query your logic.

    You appear to be saying that the Rumanian government will be like many others in requiring bribes for lots of things that should be available anyway (because sufficiently paid for out of taxes), so a businessman like Mr Adamescu ‘must’ have paid them – which appears to mean that the Rumanian state, having forced him into a technically guilty position, therefore has a case against him, instead of he against them. Businessmen may of course be far more pro-active in the matter of bribing, but your minimalist argument is for that very reason no argument against Brian’s presentation.

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    This seems like another good reason to leave the EU. What will be the legal arrangements when you go- extradition still allowed, or is this also up for negotiation?

  • bobby b

    “No one does business in MOST countries in the world (surely including Romania) without paying bribes to politicians, government officials and judges.”


    In all my decades of doing business in the USA and Canada, I’ve never paid a bribe, never been asked to pay a bribe, never known anyone personally to have paid a bribe . . . I have received hints (and more) in Mexico, of course, but could never subject myself to the jurisdiction of such vile government, and so did no business with them. Because they sell government for bribes. Because the rule of their law was always for sale. Such people can go fuck themselves and live on their beans and their sunshine, because that’s all they’ll ever have until they invent honor.

    I cannot understand your implication that Adamescu is somehow tainted because he exists in a land full of venal government officials. “Bribes” are one of the items I use to categorize between First World and Third World countries. I would never last long in such a place, as my first impulse would be to offer government officials a bribe, and then kill those who accept, because that particular vice belongs entirely to the government official who has broken faith with his system. To the poor briber, it is usually a system presented to him without choice.

    It’s also interesting that, from what you say, the EU is known as a land of bribes. This is dismaying to me, as it places the EU down amongst the lowest rungs of the world at a time when I had considered Europe to be civilized. It makes the EU into a Third World region, to be examined at a distance as one would look with interest at a plague victim.

    Government bribery is a very bright-line topic amongst many USA types. People considering entering into joint projects with EU jurisdictions will back out very quickly if they sense they are dealing with third world countries. So the question for me is, are you talking out of your behind, or is bribery a way of life in the EU?

  • Laird

    Jacob is undoubtedly correct that the presentation here is one-sided and biased. To me, that doesn’t much matter. My default presumption is that the government, any government, is evil and acting badly. Cynical? Yes, but it’s a cynicism born of 6+ decades of life on this planet. I know the quality of people who are attracted to government positions, and it inspires no confidence. Scum rises to the top. Always.

  • Radu

    As a Romanian libertarian, I am the first to admit the justice system is bullshit. That being said “great Romanian businessman” owned what was probably the worst insurance company in the country. And I would not call his newspaper freedom-championing, it did run some libertarian articles along with plenty of non libertarian and was mostly opportunistic, like all large-ish Romanian newspaper.

    That does not change the fact that the conditions in Romanian prisons is bad, but I am pointing out that this article is a bit to one-sided, especially the links mostly to an obviously biased source – not a good look for the blog if you ask me. Things are not so black and white. He was probably pretty corrupt and involved in the whole rotten system – he would not have had a major insurance company that got away with a lot of shit otherwise, not in Romania. That does not mean he should have died or was not mistreated by the justice system. The full truth will probably never be known.

  • Alisa

    the EU is known as a land of bribes

    I seriously doubt that this is true or known to be true for the EU in general, though my not-sufficiently educated guess is that it may be true to some extent with regard to some EU members, especially those from the former Eastern Bloc, but also possibly including some of the PIIGs.

  • Jacob

    bobby b
    “… never known anyone personally to have paid a bribe….”

    Reminds me of the reporter in the US that said he has never known anyone who voted Republican….

    Bribes are being paid in the US too…. maybe it’s less prevalent than in some other countries, and maybe it tends to be masked more under “political contributions” to PACs or “funds” (such as the Clinton charity fund).
    I would venture to guess that maybe 90% of businesses that do work for government (city, state or federal) pay some form of bribe (concealed, of course).

  • I have some personal (but hearsay) reasons to think that both Italy and Greece (two of the PIIGS that Alisa mentioned) are much worse than the anglosphere for bribes. For completeness, I’ll mention that I also have personal hearsay experience in a very rural area of Italy of some minor stuff not requiring these extras. I also have reason to think that EU officialdom’s culture is corrupt: my reasons include personal hearsay and (in a very minor case) personal witness. By contrast, I in the UK, like bobby b in the US, have not experienced a bribe culture. I have personal hearsay of a dodgy natz action, but it’s more ruining an activity to throw its benefits to supporters rather than bribes per se.

    I can easily believe Rumania is also bad, but have no details except for very vague deductions relating to how communism fell in Rumania versus how it fell in other eastern European countries. (I can see how the Rumanian security service – much mentioned in Brian’s account – might have had more chance to survive and reinvent themselves, like it was in Russia.)

  • bobby b

    January 30, 2018 at 9:51 am

    “the EU is known as a land of bribes”

    “I seriously doubt that this is true or known to be true for the EU in general . . . “

    I seriously doubt it too, and personally think that Niall Kilmartin (January 30, 2018 at 2:20 pm) has it right.

    January 30, 2018 at 12:51 pm

    “I would venture to guess that maybe 90% of businesses that do work for government (city, state or federal) pay some form of bribe (concealed, of course).”

    I have been dealing with governmental bodies for decades. I have in the past spoken for several large organizations of people who are banded together to deal with governmental bodies. I think you have settled on a caricature of America in your mind that is at odds with its true nature. And no, we aren’t making campaign contributions in lieu of bribes. Outside of top national people, who tend to be fundraisers more so than representatives, our local and state governments tend to be very clean and responsive to the needs and desires of their constituents. You don’t need to bribe someone to do the right thing if they already want to do the right thing.

  • Radu

    I would not say the EU overall is the land of bribes. Romania is. But the more advanced countries moved on to lobby consultants etc. Much cleaner less trite than old fashioned bribes

  • Radu

    There is no u in Romanai 🙂

  • James Hargrave

    Radu – it all depends what age you are, Romania, Roumania, Rumania, Romania seems to have been the sequence in English. I prefer no. 2.

  • Radu

    Damn you must be old

  • Mr Ed

    I knew a chap who was the finance director of a small tax advice company, also an accountant, who sold his house in Spain and was shocked to find the buyer turn up with the purchase documents with €50,000 in cash and the same sum ‘deducted’ from the purchase document, so that the sale price could be recorded lower than the agreed price, saving on the transaction tax and potential capital gains. He was quite shocked when his shock was met with amazement the locals involved.

  • Bribes in America are handled differently — see the Clinton Global Initiative.

    I’ve also seen it argued that the ridiculous advances given to certain ex-office holders for their memoirs that are never going to make that money back are little more than a form of influence peddling.

  • Paul Marks

    Radu – no one is saying this man was a saint, I am sure he was not a saint. But he was treated unjustly – and that is wrong. And he not the only person – think, if they can do this to him (a rich and well known man) what could they do to you?

    By the way – I notice no one has answered my question. Why does the European Union endlessly bash Poland (unjustly bash Poland) and yet, basically, ignores what is happening in Romania?

  • Let us not forget the past. Romania’s apparently taken a step up from the days when the rulers were annoyed by Ion Petru Culianu. Now at least there are some formalities.

    It *is* possible to run an honest business in Romania. There are honest accountants there. My mother-in-law taught a good number of them. That doesn’t mean it is easy and in highly regulated environments like insurance it’s especially difficult.

  • Radu

    Paul, I said as much I think – Romanian justice is not just. I am thinking what they can do to me, but to be honest I have a better chance than people like Adamescu to get a fair trial -not being part of the corrupt mob leading the country. The only issue is if I get into conflict with someone very well connected, but then there is not much I can do about it, except I suppose immigrate to your fine country and steal your jobs.

    I am, probably my libertarian bias, not under the illusion that the system in Romania is anything but crap, I just happen to think it is not much better in the more civilized countries, just the corruption is more refined. A better class of crooks, if you will. Which is better, but far from ideal.

  • Mr Ed

    If it’s any consolation, a Moldovan acquaintance of mine gave the distinct impression that Romania was a step up from his homeland. It is still dreadful that a country such as this could be run in such a way.

    I am oddly reminded of a situation in the 1960s when under Ceausescu, Romania repeatedly defied the Soviets. They did not take part in the invasion of Czechoslovakia, they denounced it, and also bought some French helicopters and refused to let the Soviets examine them, and generally made a nuisance of themselves. Viktor Suvorov (ex-GRU) wrote of one Soviet Army commander who mobilised his forces to invade without waiting for orders, for which he was summarily dealt with. The reason why Romania got a pass? No Soviet citizen would dream of swapping life in the USSR for life in Romania, where the Cult of Personality flourished. But the smallest chink of freedom in Prague had to be snuffed out, despite the public proclamations of loyalty to the Socialist Order from Dubček.

    So perhaps the reason why the EU says nothing is that Romania is not a threat to the established order, it makes no noises about the EU and its plans. Poland, however, says the unsayable, and does the unthinkable.

  • Laird

    “A better class of crooks, if you will.”

    I’m not sure that is an improvement. At some level it’s useful to clearly understand that you’re dealing with crooks, and that the crooks don’t pretend to be something else.

  • Mr Ed (February 1, 2018 at 2:56 pm): “… The reason why Romania got a pass? No Soviet citizen would dream of swapping life in the USSR for life in Romania. … But the smallest chink of freedom in Prague had to be snuffed out … the reason why the EU says nothing is that Romania is not a threat to the established order, it makes no noises about the EU and its plans. Poland, however, says the unsayable, and does the unthinkable.”

    This is spot on, both as regards keeping the soviets off their backs in the past and the EU off their backs in the present. This method (of serving ‘allies’ poltical points and so gaining freedom to serve the selfish points of whoever rules Romania) was used even earlier. Antonescu started murdering Jews before Hitler told him to, thus gaining immense brownie points with the Fuhrer.

  • Alisa

    both as regards keeping the soviets off their backs in the past and the EU off their backs in the present

    If Poland is so unhappy in the EU, why doesn’t it leave? And why was it so keen to join in the first place?

  • Alisa (February 2, 2018 at 11:40 am), it may be rather that the EU is unhappy with Poland and Poland is not that unhappy with such EU funds as it receives provided it can tell the EU to get stuffed as regards diminishing Poland’s effective sovereignty. As a large net contributor to the EU with a weak-kneed and/or compliant government, the UK electorate had every reason to vote for Brexit. The Poles may feel that their government is strong-willed enough to resist things they’d really dislike whatever the formal right of the EU to order them.

    There is an analogy with the time of the reformation: that the weak German states’ governments were less able to resist the papacy that the strong English and French ones is sometimes seen as a reason why the reformation began with Luther.

  • Alisa

    Thanks Niall, that makes sense.

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