How the Tate Brothers Came to Romania and How They First Made Contact with Organized Crime

Rise Project presents Andrew and Tristan Tate’s real estate business dealings in Romania.

The two brothers were arrested for forming an organized crime group, human trafficking and rape, alongside their accomplice Georgiana Naghel. Below, we show you how they met and what businesses she ran in their name, as well as who constantly withdrew money from their accounts.

Anti-mafia prosecutors show that the Brits laundered the money they made from human trafficking through real estate deals and they are investigated for this in the human trafficking case.

The first battle

The first public images of Andrew and Tristan Tate in Romania that RISE Project has identified were taken at an event on August 4, 2014. 

At the time, Andrew Tate, the older brother, was 27. He had yet to become one of the most Google-searched people in the world, had yet to move to Romania in order to do business with local mafia, and hadn’t yet locked women up at his property on the outskirts of Bucharest

In August 2014, the Tate brothers were photographed and filmed during “a Las Vegas-style fight.” 

The fight took place in the Constanța County resort of Mamaia, on a beach crowded with families with children who had come to take a gander. And the Tate brothers didn’t fight anyone that day – they just carried towels for a Polish fighter

They were both wearing t-shirts with the Storm Gym logo – the gym at which they were working out at the time. There, they trained with the Polish fighter. Storm Gym is located in Luton, which is a small London suburb with a large community of Romanian and Polish migrants, as well as the place where the Tate brothers grew up

At the time, Andrew Tate had won a few belts in British kickboxing galas. 

The Pole trained at the same gym as him. He had come to Mamaia to fight Sandu Lungu, a nationalist wrestler weighing 363 lbs. Everyone at the beach that day rooted for the Romanian. 

After the Mamaia fight, the Tate brothers stayed on for a few days to party with the organizers. 

That was when Sebastian Vieru, co-owner, organizer, and promoter of mixed martial arts RXF galas, entered the scene.  

At first, in 2012, RXF stood for Romanian Xtreme Fighting. They organized fights in cages with fences that the fighters couldn’t climb over, in order to exit the ring. In 2016, the brand became Real Xtreme Fights and extended to the entire region. Throughout the years, fighters from all over Europe took part in the RXF galas organized by Vieru. 

Once the Tate brothers settled in Romania, Vieru became one of their trusted friends.

After attending two other RXF galas with the same Polish fighter, Andrew and Tristan moved up to RXF gala premium commentator status. They spoke English with a British accent and came from the wrestling world. They had won a few competitions in British circuits and trained in the London suburbs. Unlike the bored Romanian commentators, the two Tates really put on a show behind the mic.

No one bothered to check the stories they told about their past and Vieru liked them, because they knew how to sell their swag.   

The man who sat the Tate brothers down at the same table with organized crime 

Sebastian Vieru, the public face of RXF events, actually leads to a much more complex group of interests. 

Nowadays, he’s famous in the world of collision sports, does interviews about the competitions he organizes and the fighters he promotes, and is a constant fixture on sporting podcasts and TV networks

Before RXF, he tried his luck in real estate and consultancy and even owned a company named after his initials: VGS – Vieru Grigore Sebastian.

Nowadays, however, Vieru leads his existence under a different coat of arms, with a different set of initials: DMS. 

The three capital letters stand for Doroftei, Mihăiță, and Sorin, two brothers from Suceava and Iași, who had relocated to Brașov, from north-eastern Romania to Transylvania. Together with them, Vieru founded the RXF brand. They are also the owners of the Las Vegas casino chain, which operates hundreds of venues throughout the country, as well as thousands of slot machines at their locations or in village taverns, and through which they constantly sponsor the galas. 

Over the past four months, since the outbreak of the scandal, Sebastian Vieru has persistently defended the Brits:

“And the rape thing… When you have a full fridge at home and get food from all over the place, just as an aside, I don’t think you need someone else’s sandwich anymore. I don’t think they ever had to go out and rape something. The house in question is guarded by a security company. If [the women] were really locked up, they could’ve complained. I don’t think any doubts can be cast about the security guards, that they were on their side.”

One of the Tate brothers’ bodyguards is a constant fixture in RXF cage fights and the Brits have repeatedly fought wrestlers promoted by RXF.

Another company founded by Sebastian Vieru and the Doroftei brothers, Royalty Sport Management, is now associated with Andrew Tate. The Doroftei brothers have left the company and transferred it to Vieru. Royalty Sport later partnered with Tate in another business venture. This company organizes other MMA galas, KO Masters. 

Buletin de București reported on the business connection between the owners of the Las Vegas casinos and the Brits, but the legal department behind the slot machines denied the information.

At the first RXF event in Brașov, in 2011, Vieru was in the audience with Mihăiță Doroftei and they watched the fights together.

The Las Vegas gang

Mihăiță Doroftei, aka Polonezu, meaning The Pole, is wanted by anti-mafia prosecutors in his capacity as leader of the largest organized crime cartel in Romania’s recent history. He gathered underworld leaders all over the country at the same table and paid their wages for years on end; legally, they were hired as the technicians tasked with fixing the slot machines at the Las Vegas gambling venues. 

In reality, the maintenance department was actually an army of fighters. Some of them attended the RXF wrestling galas, while they also went after the jackpot winners at the Las Vegas casinos. 

A month before the prosecutors from the Organized Crime and Terrorism Investigation Department (DIICOT) barged in on the Tate brothers, they had raided the mobsters involved in the Las Vegas mega-case. The law enforcement officers argued that they should be arrested for blackmail, violent debt recovery, kidnapping, and other mafia-style activities.

According to DIICOT files, for at least five years players who won too much money at the Doroftei brothers’ casinos were beaten until they returned the jackpot. A winner was beaten up, undressed and threatened with rape, if kept insisting to get his winnings. 

“We see something that we have not encountered in the past — the leaders of the [organized crime] groups have forgotten their pride in order to share their spheres of influence, and benefits,” Cosmin Andreica, head of the Romanian branch of Europol, told Romanian television at the time of the raids.

Doroftei’s army was also tasked with hostile casino takeovers from the competition, by pressuring gambling venue owners to hand over their businesses.

You can read more about the connections between the Tate and the Doroftei brothers, as well as the casinos they own together, in the next episode of this investigative series. (LINK)

Until then, you can learn more about how the Brits first got into business in Romania. Before opening these businesses, Vieru, the Doroftei brothers’ man, introduced the two Britons to the real estate business. Later, they became so close that the Brits even gave him access to their accounts.

The hidden properties

The brothers’ Tate first real estate investments would have never happened without their new friend in Brașov, Sebastian Vieru.

They had the cash, while Vieru had friends who were building high-rises and needed clients.

Since coming to Romania, the Tate brothers have made several investments in houses and land. Three of them, which are residential or party houses, are located at addresses where town planning and town hall bureaucratic chaos have made them difficult to find in state archives and databases. Not even the National Land Registry Agency can find Andrew Tate as a former owner in their database.

For example, the house where the Tate brothers actually lived is located at Drumul Bisericii no. 50, but it shares this address with two blocks and 30 other houses. Another house, which they own in Comarnic, shares an address with the ruins of a former state factory and a huge retailer. Their property, however, is located 2 kilometers away, i.e., two streets away.

Moreover, some of these properties were bought through intermediaries or later transferred to the names of others.

Three of these properties, which they rented or owned, have no neighbors or are located in cul-de-sacs, which makes them nearly impossible to identify.

Bran, the town where they purchased land in order to build a castle to house the girls they were exploiting online, has several postal address numbers for each property. On each gate, you will find the old house number, the new one, and a third, meaningless number, for which the villagers have no explanation.

In addition, according to the arrest report, several properties were traded under a single contract, for a single lump sum that included all the properties, without separately identifying the price of each. 

The first real estate deal

The Tate brothers’ first real estate investment was in Săcele, Brașov County. In 2010, an investor had started the construction of an apartment building on Narciselor Street, at no. 70 – it’s the last building you see before exiting the village and entering the forest.

The real estate project was abandoned and then taken over by Vasile Mezdrea, a Brașov real estate agent. Mezdrea gathered money from his acquaintances in order to finish the construction.

Today, Mezdrea is an activist for the rights of developers who want to build high-rises in the mountains and hills around the city of Brașov. 

He convinced people to invest in his construction sites and now does advocacy work as a simple citizen for other developers construction sites at the Brașov City Council. He is also a member of the ultra-nationalist Greater Romania Party, but did not get enough votes to receive voting rights in the Brașov City Council.

In the summer of 2015, after being brought to Brașov by Sebastian Vieru, the Tate brothers invested in Vasile Mezdrea’s abandoned construction site.

Since then, real estate agent Mezdrea has also become a developer.

His uncle, whose name is also Vasile Mezdrea, recalls that in 2015 his nephew didn’t have the money to finish building the apartment building and was looking for investors.

He received help from his friend Sebastian Vieru, as his uncle of the same name describes him. Mezdrea was asking for a minimum of €19,000 for apartments like the ones he sold to the Tate brothers.

In 2015, Mezdrea had signed sale-purchase promissory agreements, back when the apartment block he was building on the outskirts of the town of Săcele was still a construction site. He had nothing to sell yet, he was only peddling promises.

Several people pledged to buy his apartments when they were ready, and the payment deadline was November 30, 2015.

At the time, Mezdrea sold two apartments to Andrew Tate and Melissa Wade, one of the girls the brothers were posting online at the time. Wade was reliable, she had been a third party in several of the brothers’ business ventures. Years later, the Tate brothers’ Dubai operations were also transferred to her name.

Then, in 2016, when construction had already ended, Tristan Tate also bought an apartment in the same building. The Tates and Mezdrea later became friends, and kept socializing at bars and public outings several years after that..

The paper trail of the Săcele deal

According to public statements, the Tate brothers and Melissa Wade bought some apartments that they lived in, and later sold them at a higher price. They seem ordinary citizens, who cashed in on a real estate bubble.

The actual real estate transactions were more complicated, however. After the Brits got the apartments from the developer, they gave them back before they had ever reached their actual owners.

There is no way of knowing whether the apartment scheme was just real estate speculation or money laundering. For that, we would have to know the amount of money that exchanged hands. Whether they sold high and then bought low, or vice versa. That is, we would have to be able to analyze the price difference between transactions.

We tried to find out the value of the Săcele apartments, but the information is not public.

Mezdrea said his role in the transactions was that of an agent. „Since they bought the facilities from me, being myself a real estate broker, obviously, the easiest thing to do was to sell through me. I was the one who helped them with the locations and. Obviously, it was simply normal, given the trusted relationship and the friendship, to give them back to me. Eventually, I sold them to whomever I thought fit. Everyone was happy with this business. ”

Today, prosecutors allege that the Tate brothers invested the money they made exploiting women on the Internet into real estate.

Where the webcam money was invested

The Tate brothers’ famous property in the north of Bucharest was bought from a couple of real estate swindlers, but they did not purchase all of it, as they publicly alleged. That’s where they were arrested in the final days of 2022.

Their fans believe the property was worth between $7 and $30 million. That’s where they brought the girls they wanted to impress with their luxury car fleet. It was located a mere five-minute walk away from the house where the victims were locked up and forced to sell their bodies on the Internet.

In reality, the house came at a much cheaper price point and had previously served as a carpentry shop. They still share the property with the former owners, the Dărăbuț family, who access it through the back entrance. They bought more than half of the house and the whole yard, with the swimming pool and parking lot, for €740,000.

This is not the only deal that the Tate brothers and the Dărăbuț family made together.

On Prahova Valley, in Comarnic, the site of many traffic jams on DN1 as you drive from Bucharest to Europe, Cătălina Dărăbuț sold the Tate brothers another property.

The Comarnic crossroads is located in front of the former brick factory, Vulturul SA, on Republicii no. 4.

The company was dismantled and its real estate assets then scattered. Some real estate speculators took one part, a big box retailer built a store on another piece of land there, while some annexes and a plot of land went to the Tate brothers.

The factory building itself was scrapped. The Tate brothers own a house behind the former plant.

The address is nearly impossible to find for someone who can’t piece together the history of the property and is simply visiting the Tate brothers. 

The two Brits did not purchase this property directly from Vulturul SA, the former state-owned factory, but from Tarmac Investments, a company owned by Cătălina Dărăbuț. She is the same person from whom they purchased the Voluntari house, where the influencers now live. 

The prosecutors say that they made these investments in order to launder the money they had made from digital prostitution.

How business started

It took another five years after this photo of Georgiana Naghel and Andrew Tate was taken in this Lamborghini on Prahova Valley, in May 2017, before they were arrested together for human trafficking

The woman had access to the webcamming accounts registered to the victims’ names and she was also in charge with organizing the parties that were sometimes attended by underage girls. Several of the brothers’ companies and properties have been transferred to Naghel’s name

The victims didn’t have access to the content that got posted and had no right to decide on the images of themselves. The accounts were managed by Naghel.

She also collected the money on her card and handed the victims some of it, claiming that the income was being equally divided between them. The victims, however, didn’t know how much money they were actually making for the Tate brothers. The prosecutors say that the money sat in online banking platform accounts such as Revolut or PayPal. From there, the madame withdrew the petty change she gave the girls.

The police first visited the Tate brothers in April 2022, after the US Embassy to Bucharest reported that a female American citizen was being held against her will by the Tates and guarded by Naghel. Subsequently, Talisman Enterprises SRL and Emory Andrew Tate SRL were transferred to Georgiana’s name. 

The madame, however, didn’t have access to the accounts. She was just centralizing the money earned by the girls who were being pimped out on the internet.

Instead, Sebastian Vieru, the organizer of the MMA galas, was listed as the manager of Talisman Enterprises accounts. He withdrew money at leisure. Through him, the Tate brothers met Naghel in 2015, while she was working as an RXF gala hostess.

The brothers were moving up from towel boys to hosts. Although early on they had won belts at local UK MMA galas, in Romania their only role was to entertain.

In those years, the Tate brothers were circulating massive amounts of cash through the Talisman company. The transactions drew the attention of tax inspectors. In 2021, they fined the company. Those inspection documents have come into the possession of RISE Project.

In 2020, the Tate brothers made purchases through Talisman Enterprises worth over 2.6 million lei. Then, the tax authorities caught them as they were withdrawing the money back from the company, in installments that exceeded the legal cap. We discovered that the money the two brothers lent to their own company was used to purchase a house in Tunari and the one where they live, in Voluntari.

The fiscal authorities do not know where this money came from, they only fined them for the withdrawals. 

Nowadays, anti-mafia prosecutors say that the 2021 transactions monitored by the fiscal authorities represented the Tate brothers’ efforts to launder money they had made from human trafficking.

The story of Talisman Enterprises is even more complicated, as the company is also involved in the gambling industry.

Ever since the Tate brothers’ arrest, publications from all over the world have tried to find out whether or not they also own casinos in Romania.

The answer was always in front of the cameras. The whole world saw where they lived when they were taken in by the anti-mafia prosecutors and when the luxury cars, which they had used to impress their victims, were seized.

Their house looks exactly the same as all the casinos in the Las Vegas chain, and that led us to the largest organized crime syndicate in Romania’s recent history.

Reporter: Victor Ilie

Additional reporting: Luiza Vasiliu, Bianca Albu

Editor: Daniel Bojin

Fact-checking: Roxana Jipa

Translation: Ioana Pelehatăi

Illustration: Andy Sinboy


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