3/12/2015

Most of the real estate property owned by the family of Romanian President Klaus Iohannis was obtained as a result of property restitution based on forged documents.

  • Targeted by a criminal investigation in the mid-2000s in the case opened following this fraud, Mr. and Mrs. Iohannis were never indicted.

  • One of the properties obtained through restitution, currently co-owned by Mr. and Mrs. Iohannis, is a retail space located in downtown Sibiu.

  • Over the past 14 years, Mr. and Mrs. Iohannis collected more than 300,000 euros from renting this space, according to the lease contracts RISE Project obtained from the Trade Registry. This money was their main source of income.

  • Three of the six properties declared in Klaus Iohannis’ wealth statement were bought with money gained from the lease of this retail space.

  • The property deed held by Mr. and Mrs. Iohannis for the retail space is the object of a trial that started 13 years ago. The trial is ongoing. The next court date is set for September 3.

  • The development of this legal dispute answers the question of how the president of Romania came to own six properties in Sibiu.

  • Klaus Iohannis declined to be interviewed by RISE Project for this article.

  • In November 2015 a Romanian Court of Justice issued a judgment concluding that the property that generated 320000 EURO after being rented to the Raiffeisen bank by the Iohannis family was acquired in an illegal manner

 

Familia Iohannis a câștigat mai mulți bani din chirii decât apar în declarațiile de avere ale soțului. FOTO: Octav Ganea/Mediafax.

Familia Iohannis a câștigat mai mulți bani din chirii decât apar în declarațiile de avere ale soțului. FOTO: Octav Ganea/Mediafax.

The RISE Project investigation of the forgery that made President Klaus Iohannis’ family rich was featured on Al Jazeera English. The documents, infographics and findings of the RISE investigation are featured in the video, starting at the 15 minute mark.

One of the six properties declared in Klaus Iohannis’ wealth statement is a retail space located in the historic center of Sibiu.

Over the past 14 years, Mr. and Mrs. Iohannis made around 320,000 euros from leasing this space and this was their main source of income during this period.

Obtaining the property

Mr. and Mrs. Iohannis co-own this property 50/50 with another family, Baștea.

In the late 1990s, Baștea and Iohannis received two properties located in downtown Sibiu, following a restitution claim.

The retail space in question is located on the ground floor of one of these buildings.

Except for this retail space, Baștea and Iohannis were unable to capitalize on any other part of the two properties, despite lawsuits initiated to this end, which spread over the course of more than a decade.

The two buildings were state property from 1962 and 1964 respectively, when they were nationalized, until 1999 – when they were taken over by Baștea and Iohannis.

A made-up family tree

Baștea and Iohannis were successful in their retrocession suit, in which they claimed to be the heirs of their former owner.

But they were not. Their relation to the former owner of the two buildings entitled them to reclaim at most one eighth of the former owner’s property, not all of it.

When their lack of legitimacy was found, the document on which their ownership rights had been established – an inheritance certificate, drawn up in 1999 – was annulled in court in 2005.

Moreover, in the mid-2000s, as illegitimate beneficiaries of this inheritance, Baștea and Iohannis were targeted by a criminal investigation and were probed for use of forgery. They were not indicted following the investigation.

Still the owners

Although the inheritance certificate was annulled in 2005, the property deeds Baștea and Iohannis obtained in 1999 are still valid, in part.

Mr. and Mrs. Iohannis are still co-owners of the retail space that ensures the bulk of their income.

A small fortune from Raiffeisen Bank

The retail space started making money in 2001, when it was leased to Raiffeisen Bank.

Since then and up to the present, it generated total revenue of approximately 640,000 euros, according to the lease contracts obtained by RISE Project from the Trade Registry.

Half the money went to the Iohannis family, the other half to the Baștea family.

 

But for the fraudulent retrocession of the two buildings – in 1999 – the retail space would have remain property of the state and this money would have gone to the budget of the local administration in Sibiu.

 

În 1999, cele două case au fost mutate din proprietatea statului pe numele lui Nicolae Baștea și de aici, mai departe, pe numele lui Ioan Baștea, Carmen Iohannis și Georgeta Lăzurca. Mai apoi, Klaus și Carmen Iohannis au cumpărat, la un preț modic, o jumătate din casa care avea cea mai mare valoare imobiliară și care nu le fusese destinată prin testament.  Începând cu 2001, au închiriat-o băncii Raiffeisen. INFOGRAFIE: Sergiu Brega.

În 1999, cele două case au fost mutate din proprietatea statului pe numele lui Nicolae Baștea și de aici, mai departe, pe numele lui Ioan Baștea, Carmen Iohannis și Georgeta Lăzurca. Mai apoi, Klaus și Carmen Iohannis au cumpărat, la un preț modic, o jumătate din casa care avea cea mai mare valoare imobiliară și care nu le fusese destinată prin testament. Începând cu 2001, au închiriat-o băncii Raiffeisen. INFOGRAFIE: Sergiu Brega.

 

Origin of four properties out of six Iohannis owns

The legal affair and half the money it made – estimated at 320,000 euros – is the answer to the question that shadowed the political career of Klaus Iohannis, as soon as he stepped into the big league: where he got the money to buy six “houses” in Sibiu.

As he said himself on TV, Iohannis used the rent money from Raiffeisen Bank to buy, in time, three more properties: an apartment and two houses.

“(…) There was a very advantageous lease (of the retail space – e.n.) and, using the proceeds form that lease, I managed to buy an apartment in a good location. I rented it out and with that money I eventually bought the two houses, which are the last acquisitions I made,” said Iohannis.

Therefore, four of the six properties listed in the Romanian president’s wealth statement are the direct and indirect result of a retrocession the judiciary established back in 2005 was based on forged documents.

 

Trial stalled over technicalities

Baștea and Iohannis’ right of ownership of the retail space is still disputed by two families living in the building, above the Raiffeisen office.

The trial started 13 years ago. It is currently with the Brasov Court of Appeals.

The two families disputing Baștea and Iohannis’ ownership won the penultimate stage of the trial, handled by the Brasov Court, three times in a row.

At this stage, Baștea and Iohannis stalled the litigation artificially, citing procedural errors such as the faulty postage of subpoenas to an address in Florida (USA), where Baștea resided.

While the trial stalled over technicalities, the revenue generated by the space – transferred by Raiffeisen Bank to the accounts of Baștea and Iohannis – amounted to approximately 420,000 euros, according to copies of the lease contracts obtained by RISE Project.

 

RISE Project presents a timeline of the steps the Baștea and Iohannis families took to take possession of the retail space that they used to make a small fortune.

Below is a detailed timeline, along with supporting legal documents. In some cases, these have been made anonymous, as the law requires (names have been reduced to initials or fully censored), by the courts of law that made them available to RISE Project.

The Romanian president declined to be interviewed by RISE on this topic and did not reply to the questions he was sent in this respect.

In a telephony conversation with RISE Project, one of the presidential administration’s press office employees said: “I don’t know when and if your questions will get a reply.”

Iohannis’s partners – members of the Baștea family, who emigrated to the United States in 2000 – did not reply to the questions RISE Project sent via e-mail.

 

CHARACTERS:

În testamentul din 1991, Nicolae Baștea a susținut că i se cuvin cele două case pe care statul i le naționalizase lui Eliseu Ghenea și le-a lăsat, la rândul său, moștenire lui Ioan Baștea, lui Carmen Iohannis și mamei acesteia, Georgeta Lăzurca. În realitate, pentru că era rudă doar cu nevasta acestuia, i se cuvenea doar o optime din averea lui Eliseu Ghenea. Infografie: Sergiu Brega. FOTO: Octav Ganea/Mediafax, RISE Project.

În testamentul din 1991, Nicolae Baștea a susținut că i se cuvin cele două case pe care statul i le naționalizase lui Eliseu Ghenea și le-a lăsat, la rândul său, moștenire lui Ioan Baștea, lui Carmen Iohannis și mamei acesteia, Georgeta Lăzurca. În realitate, pentru că era rudă doar cu nevasta acestuia, i se cuvenea doar o optime din averea lui Eliseu Ghenea. Infografie: Sergiu Brega. FOTO: Octav Ganea/Mediafax, RISE Project.

Eliseu Ghenea – worked in the United States between the two world wars and owned two houses in downtown Sibiu. The houses were nationalized in 1962 and 1964 respectively. He died in 1969.

Maria Ghenea – wife of Eliseu Ghenea. She died in 1962.

Nicolae Baștea – nephew of Maria Ghenea. In 1991, claiming he was entitled to the two houses of Eliseu Ghenea, he left them in his will to a nephew, Ioan Baștea, and acquaintances Carmen Iohannis and Georgeta Lăzurca. He died in 1993.

Ioan Baștea – nephew of Nicolae Baștea. After a court granted him ownership of the two properties nationalized in 1962 and 1964, he split the most valuable of the properties with Mr. and Mrs. Iohannis and empowered Klaus Iohannis to represent him in all actions related to the administration of these properties. He died in 2010, in Jacksonville, Florida.

Georgeta Lăzurca – mother of Carmen Iohannis; mother-in-law to the president of Romania.

Liviu Munteanu – secretary of the township of Porumbacu de Jos, Sibiu county. He issued two forged certificates of authenticity that claimed Nicolae Baștea was the sole successor and heir of Eliseu Ghenea. He was sentenced to a one-year suspended prison term for forgery. He retired from this very job.

Radu Gabriel Bucșa – notary public trusted by Klaus Iohannis. He unlawfully drew up the documents transferring the two properties to Ioan Baștea, Carmen Iohannis and Georgeta Lăzurca. These documents were annulled in court. The criminal investigation targeting him and Klaus Iohannis was inconclusive.

Richard Wagner – Saxon, emigrated to Germany. Owner of an apartment in one of the two houses in Sibiu formerly owned by Eliseu Ghenea. Acting by power of attorney – a brother-in-law of his daughter-in-law, current resident of said apartment – he obtained in court the annulment of the inheritance certificate that ultimately gave Ioan Baștea, Carmen Iohannis and Georgeta Lăzurca right of ownership of the two properties. Wagner never attended the trial regarding the inheritance of Eliseu Ghenea’s properties. He was always represented by Gheorghe Prundurel. Richard Wagner died in Germany.

TWO WILLS

 

December 25, 1991 – An elderly man named Nicolae Baștea leaves, in his will, two buildings in downtown Sibiu to his nephew Ioan Baștea, an acquaintance, Georgeta Lăzurca, and her daughter, Carmen Iohannis.

At the time Nicolae Baștea draws up his will, he does not own the houses, they belong to the state after being nationalized in the 1960s.
In order to take possession of the properties, the beneficiaries of the will must get the nationalization revoked in court.

Before nationalization, the buildings belonged to Eliseu Ghenea, a resident of the Porumbacu de Jos commune in Sibiu county. Between the two world wars, he made his wealth working in the United States.

Nicolae Baștea claims he is the heir of Eliseu Ghenea and, in this capacity, leaves the two properties to Ioan Baștea, Georgeta Lăzurca and Carmen Iohannis.

In the will drawn up on Christmas Day 1991, Nicolae Baștea is more generous to his nephew Ioan than to Georgeta Lăzurca and Carmen Iohannis.

To Ioan Baștea he leaves an entire building (at 29 Nicolae Bălcescu street) and two floors of the second building (at 35 Gheorghe Magheru street): the ground floor and the second floor.

To Georgeta Lăzurca and Carmen Iohannis he leaves the first floor of the building at 35 Gheorghe Magheru street. The floor consists of two apartments.

In 1991, both buildings are under the administration of the Sibiu City Hall.
Both have tenants.

Nicolae Baștea dies in 1993.

1995 – 1997 – The tenants living in the two buildings buy the apartments they live in from the Sibiu City Hall.

March 21, 1997 – Ioan Baștea, Carmen Iohannis and Georgeta Lăzurca sue the Romanian state, represented by the Sibiu City Hall, and call for the nationalization of the two properties to be revoked.

In their suit, they do not contest nationalization as a practice of the communist regime but its application in the case of assets owned by Eliseu Ghenea. They claim the houses should not have been nationalized because Eliseu Ghenea was working class.

They produce Eliseu Ghenea’s alleged will from 1963. In the will, Eliseu Ghenea leaves the two buildings in downtown Sibiu to Nicolae Baștea.

They then cite the 1991 will in which Nicolae Baștea leaves the two buildings to them.

January 15, 1998 A handwriting expert analyzes the 1963 will and establishes it was not written by Eliseu Ghenea, but only signed by him.

 

This makes the will null and the legitimacy of the claims made by Ioan Baștea, Carmen Iohannis and Georgeta Lăzurca cannot be proven. The Sibiu Court overrules their suit.

 

THE CERTIFICATE

 

May 7, 1998 – The three file an appeal: they no longer use the 1963 will to back their claim and say Nicolae Baștea was a nephew of Eliseu Ghenea, not just his heir according to the will.

To prove the family relation between Eliseu Ghenea and Nicolae Baștea, the three produce a certificate from the general registrar office in Porumbacu de Jos – the township where Eliseu Ghenea lived until his death. The certificate is issued by the township secretary, Liviu Munteanu.

The certificate – issued to serve as evidence in the lawsuit – states “the sole heir of Eliseu Ghenea was his nephew, Nicolae Baștea”.
The Sibiu Court accepts this certificate and send the case back to the lower court for a retrial.
Two years before, in 1996, the same secretary, Liviu Munteanu, had issued a document that said “the sole heir of Eliseu Ghenea was his cousin, Gheorghe Poșa”.

(Note – The secretary of a local administration is a clerk appointed by the prefect and his role is to supervise the activity of a township from a legal standpoint. By law, he coordinates general registrar office of a local administration).

July 20, 1998 – The lower court also accepts the certificate and the argument that Eliseu Ghenea had been wrongfully dispossessed as he was working class and the nationalization decree did not target the assets of the working class. The court thus rules to revoke the nationalization of the two buildings in downtown Sibiu.

April 21, 1999 – The Sibiu City Hall files an appeal to keep the buildings in the property of the state but the court overrules it.

An appeal registered at the Alba-Iulia Court of Appeals two days later is considered out of date. Thus, the Sibiu City Hall’s means to appeal are exhausted and Baștea, Iohannis și Lăzurca manage to have the nationalization of the two building revoked.

The properties nationalized three decades before are formally returned to Eliseu Ghenea (deceased in 1969) and his wife Maria Ghenea (deceased in 1962).
More steps are required for Ioan Baștea, Carmen Iohannis and Georgeta Lăzurca to come into possession of the two buildings.

Step one: Transfer 50% of the two properties, the share owned by Maria Ghenea, deceased in 1962, to her surviving husband Eliseu Ghenea, her only known heir.

Step two: Transfer the two properties owned by Eliseu Ghenea to Nicolae Baștea, on thr grounds of their family relation, certified by the document issued by the secretary of the Porumbacu de Jos township.

Step three: Transfer the properties owned by Nicolae Baștea to Ioan Baștea, Carmen Iohannis and Georgeta Lăzurca, on the grounds of the 1991 will.

Step four: Annul the contracts whereby the tenants of the two buildings had bought their apartments in 1995-1997 from the Sibiu City Hall.

The first three steps require a simple visit to the notary.

The fourth requires new lawsuits.

 

POWER OF ATTORNEY

 

May 8, 1999 – Enter Klaus Iohannis. Three weeks after his wife, mother-in-law and Ioan Baștea have the nationalization of the two properties annulled, Klaus Iohannis, until then absent from the litigation, is empowered by Ioan Baștea to act on his behalf in all matters related to the administration of Baștea’s share of the two properties.

The power of attorney is certified by Sibiu notary Radu Gabriel Bucșa.

With this document, Klaus Iohannis, then head of the Sibiu county school inspectorate, becomes the main strategist in capitalizing on the buildings reclaimed form the state.

Short description:
The two buildings formerly owned by Eliseu Ghenea are located at the heart of Sibiu, very close to the city’s Grand Square.
– The first (35 Gheorghe Magheru street), left to Ioan Baștea, Georgeta Lăzurca and Carmen Iohannis in the 1991 will, consists of nine apartments, which the state sold to tenants.

– The second (29 Nicolae Bălcescu street), inherited solely by Ioan Baștea, has a retail space on the ground floor, opening into the city’s busiest pedestrian street.
On the first floor, there are two apartments, sold to tenants.

– With the exception of the retail space, still in public property in 1999 – the new owners cannot benefit from the two buildings unless the contracts through which former tenants became homeowners are annulled.

THE NOTARY

 

June 1, 1999 – Ioan Baștea, Carmen Iohannis and Georgeta Lăzurca gop to the notary office to complete the first three procedural steps to gain possession of Eliseu Ghenea’s inheritance.

Step one: Transfer 50% of the two properties, the share owned by Maria Ghenea, deceased in 1962, to her surviving husband Eliseu Ghenea, her only known heir.

Step two: Transfer the two properties owned by Eliseu Ghenea to Nicolae Baștea, on thr grounds of their family relation, certified by the document issued by the secretary of the Porumbacu de Jos township.

Step three: Transfer the properties owned by Nicolae Baștea to Ioan Baștea, Carmen Iohannis and Georgeta Lăzurca, on the grounds of the 1991 will.

The same notary who certified the power of attorney (Baștea granted Iohannis on May 8, 1999), Radu Gabriel Bucșa, draws up a single inheritance certificate covering the three stages detailed above.

Important:

Although in the 1991 will Nicolae Baștea had left Georgeta Lăzurca and Carmen Iohannis just one floor of the three-floor building at 35 Gheorghe Magheru Street, upon drawing up the inheritance certificate, the notary granted them half the property.

– While RISE Project attempted repeatedly to interview Radu Gabriel Bucșa about the inheritance certificate issued on June 1, 1999, his reaction was consistent: “No comment! No comment!”.

Therefore, on June 1, 1999, Carmen Iohannis and her mother receive half the building at 35 Gheorghe Magheru street, consisting of apartments recently bought by their former tenants.

On the same day, through a notarized document with a consecutive registration number, also issued by Radu Gabriel Bucșa, Klaus Iohannis and his wife buy from Ioan Baștea half the building he inherited alone from Eliseu Ghenea (29 Nicolae Bălcescu street), the one with the retail space on the ground floor and two apartments on the first floor.

The price is very low: 5,000 lei, or 3,200 US dollars considering the exchange rate on that day.

After this transaction, Eliseu Ghenea’s inheritance is split equally between Baștea and Iohannis. Klaus Iohannis and his wife become co-owners of the only asset that can generate revenue so far: the retail space.

In an interview with DIGI 24, Klaus Iohannis summarized the acquisition of half the property at 29 Nicolae Bălcescu street: “I bought half a house, in very advantageous conditions, from a friend who had inherited it”.

In the following period, Ioan Baștea emigrates to the United States and settles in Jacksonville, Florida, with his wife and two daughters. Before leaving for America, Baștea, a high-school graduate, lived in Viștea commune, in Brașov county, near Sibiu county, and worked at the chemical plant in Victoria.


(Note: Over the years, only the retail space would be mentioned in Klaus Iohannis’ wealth statements, as it was the only part of the two properties the family was able to use. However, it was never declared in the wealth statement as a retail space but as an apartment).

October 7, 1999 – Ioan Baștea, Klaus Iohannis, Carmen Iohannis and Georgeta Lăzurca take the fourth step to obtain full rights over the buildings in downtown Sibiu.

Ioan Baștea and Mr. and Mrs. Iohannis sue the families living in the two apartments above the retail space at 29 Nicolae Bălcescu street and require the annulment of their property deeds.

They claim the Romanian state – which had sold the apartments two years earlier – did not have the right to sell assets that did not, in fact, belong to it. These assets belonged, as courts of law had just ruled, to Eliseu Ghenea.

The Sibiu court sustains their claim.

Meanwhile, in a separate case, Ioan Baștea, Carmen Iohannis and Georgeta Lăzurca, owners of the building at 35 Gheorghe Magheru street, sue several families living in this building and require the annulment of their property deeds for the apartments bought from the state.

Their line of argument is identical: the state had no right to sell assets it did not own.
(Not being a co-owner of this building, Klaus Iohannis is not cited in this trial).

 

RICHARD WAGNER versus IOHANNIS

 

1999 – A “reverse” lawsuit is filed.
Richard Wagner, a resident of the building at 35 Gheorghe Magheru street, sues Carmen Iohannis, Georgeta Lăzurca and Ioan Baștea.

Wagner claims Nicolae Baștea, whom the three inherited, is not really the nephew of the former owner of the two buildings, Eliseu Ghenea, therefore the buildings should have remained state property.

Wagner requests the annulment of the inheritance certificate – drawn up on June 1, 1999 – which entitled Ioan Baștea, Carmen Iohannis and Georgeta Lăzurca to own the buildings.

(Klaus Iohannis is not part of the litigation, as he is not a co-owner of the building where Richard Wagner resides).

February 2, 2000 – Liviu Munteanu, secretary of the Porumbacu de Jos township, issues another certificate stating Nicolae Baștea was, indeed, the nephew of Eliseu Ghenea.

The families Iohannis and Baștea use this certificate in the lawsuit filed by Richard Wagner.

June 18, 2000 – Klaus Iohannis is elected mayor of Sibiu.

October 5, 2000 – Richard Wagner loses the trial in Sibiu.

Wagner appeals and moves the trial to Brașov.

 

 

FORGERY OUTED

 

June 12, 2001The owners of the apartments Klaus Iohannis and his wife want dispossessed – residents of both buildings in question –  submit criminal complaints.

They say the certificates issued by the secretary of the Porumbacu de Jos township, attesting the Baștea-Ghenea family relation, are false and call for the investigation of people who issued and benefited from them.

The prosecution office in Alba Iulia investigates the case and concludes the plaintiffs are right.

– How were the two certificates false?

– Nicolae Baștea was not the nephew of Eliseu Ghenea, as the secretary of the Porumbacu de Jos township stated twice, in writing.

Nicolae Baștea was the nephew of Eliseu Ghenea’s wife, Maria, nee Baștea.

Because Maria died before Eliseu (she died in 1962 and he died in 1969), all her assets were inherited by her husband. Eliseu’s assets were further inherited by a sister and, as the sister did not have any heirs, was then inherited by the Romanian state.

The prosecution sues the township of Porumbacu de Jos and requires the annulment of the two forged certificates issued by secretary Liviu Munteanu.

 

(Note: In a strictly legal sense, family relations refer to blood relations. The relationship between the family of one spouse to the other spouse is one of affinity. In this case, Nicolae Baștea was not a blood relation to Eliseu Ghenea. There was no nephew-uncle relation that would entitle Nicolae Baștea to inherit Eliseu Ghenea’s properties. According to a legal provision of 1944 regarding inheritance – in effect at the time Mr. and Mrs. Ghenea died – being the nephew of Mariei Ghenea, deceased seven years before Eliseu Ghenea, Nicolae Baștea was entitled to claim at most one eighth of this family’s assets).

 

THE LEASE CONTRACT

 

November 30, 2001 – The families Iohannis and Baștea start reaping the benefits of the annulment of nationalization.

Klaus Iohannis leases the retail space – in his own name and on behalf of Ioan Baștea – to Raiffeisen Bank.

Raiffeisen rents the space for five years and pays a rent of 20,000 US dollars a year. At the time the contract was signed, in November 2001, the bank pays the owners three years’ worth of rent: 60,000 dollars.

The mayor of Sibiu splits the money evenly with Ioan Baștea.

The contract takes effect on February 1, 2002 and expires on February 1, 2007. The contract also allowed for the rent price to be increased by up to 20%, starting the third year of lease.

The same year he receives a tranche from Raiffeisen, Klaus Iohannis buys a six-room apartment in a villa downtown, at 13 Someșului street.

The documents for the purchase of this apartment are drawn up by the same notary, Radu Gabriel Bucșa.

A year and a half later, this apartment is rented out and starts generating income. At first, 800 euros a month, then 950 euros a month, then 1,050 euros a month.

In the interview with DIGI 24, Iohannis said this apartment was bought using proceeds from renting the retail space at 29 Nicolae Bălcescu street.

 

April 16, 2002 – The prosecution office in Alba Iulia obtain the annulment of the forged certificates issued by the Porumbacu de Jos township, which stated Nicolae Baștea was the nephew of Eliseu Ghenea.

The issuer of the two forged certificates, secretary Liviu Munteanu, appeals the ruling.

 

FIGHTING BACK

 

April 28, 2002 – The two elderly families living above the retail space rented to Raiffeisen decide to strike back and sue Iohannis and Baștea.

Following the example of Richard Wagner, the request the annulment of the 1999 inheritance certificate, whereby the assets of Eliseu Ghenea are inherited by Ioan Baștea, Carmen Iohannis and her mother.

They further request the annulment of the contract, drawn up on the same day, whereby Klaus and Carmen Iohannis bought half the property at 29 Nicolae Bălcescu street from Ioan Baștea.

In the end, they request that Ioan Baștea, Klaus Iohannis and Carmen Iohannis be eliminated from the building’s real estate registry.

June 12, 2002 – An irrevocable court ruling is passed and residents of the two apartments above the retail space lose the trial opened in 1999, in which Klaus Iohannis, Carmen Iohannis and Ioan Baștea sought the annulment of their property deeds.

Iohannis and Baștea do not act on the court ruling: they do not evacuate the residents nor do they claim rent.

The trial in which the residents want the 1999 inheritance certificate annulled continues.
INDICTMENT

 

June 9, 2003 – Retrying the case in which Alba Iulia prosecutors request the annulment of the two forged certificates issued by the secretary of the Porumbacu de Jos township, the Sibiu Court overrules the prosecution’s claim.

The claim was rejected on grounds that, even though said certificates may be forged, it is not the attribution of the prosecution office to initiate such legal action.

December 15, 2003 – The Alba Iulia prosecution office decides to indict Liviu Munteanu for forging public records. In the indictment, prosecutors state the persons who asked him to issue these two forged certificates remained “unidentified”.

Three persons used those certificates as evidence in court: Ioan Baștea, Carmen Iohannis and Georgeta Lăzurca.

At the same time, the Alba Iulia prosecution office decides to separate the investigation targeting the other parties involved in the unlawful retrocession – Ioan Baștea, Carmen Iohannis, Georgeta Lăzurca, notary Radu Gabriel Bucșa, Klaus Iohannis etc. – from the criminal case targeting secretary Liviu Muntean; the second investigation is left to the Sibiu prosecution office.

The Sibiu prosecution office takes over this separated file and concludes the above-mentioned parties are not be indicted.

 

June 6, 2004 – Klaus Iohannis is re-elected mayor of Sibiu, with an overwhelming majority of 88.7% of the votes.

 

ANNULMENT

 

November 29, 2004 – The two families living above the retail space leased to Raiffeisen lose, in Sibiu, the trial for the annulment of the 1999 inheritance certificate and the removal of Ioan Baștea, Klaus Iohannis and Carmen Iohannis from the real estate registry of the building at 29 Nicolae Bălcescu street.

Following Richard Wagner’s example, they appeal and move the case to Brașov.

February 1, 2005 – The Brașov Court sustains Richard Wagner’s appeal and orders the annulment of the 1999 inheritance certificate drawn up by notary Radu Gabriel Bucșa.

The inheritance certificate is nullified for two reasons:

(1) Nicolae Baștea was not the nephew of Eliseu Ghenea, as courts of law had already established. He was the nephew of his wife, Maria Ghenea, and in this capacity was entitled to claim at most one eighth of Eliseu Ghenea’s fortune.

(2) Sibiu notary Radu Gabriel Bucșa was outside of his jurisdiction debating the succession of a person who had died outside of Sibiu county: Nicolae Baștea, deceased in Viștea de Jos (Brașov county), last residence in Cluj-Napoca.

The same day the entire ground of Eliseu Ghenea’s “inheritance” begins to crack, February 1, 2005, marks the anniversary of the lease contract between Klaus Iohannis and Raiffeisen Bank.

The mayor must cash in another year’s rent: 10,000 dollars, according to the contract signed in November 2001.

June 30, 2005 – The Brașov Court of Appeals upholds the ruling passed on February 1 by the Brașov Court in the case of Wagner versus Iohannis.

Magistrates pass an irrevocable ruling annulling the 1999 inheritance certificate.

Moreover, they order the removal of Ioan Baștea, Carmen Iohannis and Georgeta Lăzurca from the real estate registry of the building at 35 Gheorghe Magheru street.
RENEGOTIATION

 

February 1, 2006 – Raiffeisen must pay Klaus Iohannis one year’s rent: 10,000 dollars, according to the agreement of 2001.

December 29, 2006 – Klaus Iohannis extends the lease contract with the bank for another ten years, from 2007 to 2017, on his and Ioan Baștea’s Behalf.

The annual rent is raised from 20,000 dollars (agreed in 2001) to 60,000 euros.

Iohannis and Baștea cash in 180,000 euros from Raiffeisen, the rent for the first three years of the new contractual period.

The contract states that should Iohannis and Baștea be required in the future to pay value-added tax (VAT) on this income, this VAT will be paid by Raiffeisen.

The contract also states the rent price may be increased by as much as 20% after three years, meaning as of 2010.

2007 – Klaus and Carmen Iohannis buy two more houses in Sibiu, at 9 and 11 Măgura street.

In the interview with DIGI 24, Iohannis says the two houses were bought using rent money from the lease of the retail space at 29 Nicolae Bălcescu street. He refers to the properties as “little houses”.

June 21, 2007 – The secretary of the Porumbacu de Jos township is sentenced by the Sibiu Court to a one-year suspended prison term for negligence in issuing the two forged certificates.

July 16, 2007 – The Sibiu prosecution office rescinds the non-indictment in the case investigating Ioan Baștea, Carmen Iohannis, Georgeta Lăzurca, Klaus Iohannis, Radu Gabriel Bucșa etc. and decides to pursue the investigation.

October 11, 2007 – The secretary of the Porumbacu de Jos township gets away with the symbolic sentence passed by the Sibiu court.

It’s been nearly a decade since he committed the forgery for which he was sentenced and the Alba Iulia Court of Appeals rules the action falls under the stature of limitations.

 

DELAY

 

February 21, 2008 – The Sibiu prosecution office sends the file investigating Ioan Baștea, Carmen Iohannis, Georgeta Lăzurca, Klaus Iohannis, Radu Gabriel Bucșa etc. for unlawful property restitution to D.I.I.C.O.T. (the department investigating organized crime).

This is according to a reply to RISE Project from the prosecution office in Alba Iulia, which investigated the case for the first time.

In a reply to RISE Project from D.I.I.C.O.T., the organized crime department said it never received and never worked on this criminal investigation.

 

February 26, 2008 – In Brasov, the families living in the two apartments above the retail space win the appeal Mr. and Mrs. Iohannis and Ioan Baștea.

The court rules the document whereby Mr. and Mrs. Iohannis bought half the house at 29 Nicolae Bălcescu street from Ioan Baștea is null.

Moreover, the Brașov Court orders Baștea and Iohannis be removed from the building’s real estate registry, on the grounds that the building was removed from state patrimony unlawfully.

Mr. and Mrs. Iohannis and Ioan Baștea appeal.

June 1, 2008 – Iohannis is re-elected mayor of Sibiu, with 83.2% of the votes.

December 17, 2008 – Trying the appeal in the case Iohnnis, Baștea versus the families that live upstairs from Raiffeisen, the Brașov Court of Appeals decides to send the case back to the Brașov court, citing procedural reasons, namely:
(1) Ioan Baștea, subpoenaed during the trial in Jacksonville, Florida, had not received the correspondence at the correct address.

(2) The case had been tried at the Brașov Court by the same panel of magistrates that tried the “Wagner versus Iohannis” case. The Court of Appeals considers those magistrates, who had already ruled in a related case (“Wagner versus Iohannis”), had no right to debate the same case again.

February 1, 2010 The three years covered by the advance payment Raiffeisen made to Klaus Iohannis and Ioan Baștea are up.

Iohannis and Baștea are entitled to a new installment.

Under the contract, starting February 2010, the 60,000 euros a year rent may be raised by up to 20%.

 

REAL ESTATE REGISTRY REMOVAL

 

April 23, 2010 – Retrying the case of Iohnnis, Baștea versus the families that live upstairs from Raiffeisen, the Brașov Court issues the same verdict as two years prior.

The court orders the removal of Mr. and Mrs. Iohannis and Ioan Baștea from the real estate registry of the building at 29 Nicolae Bălcescu street and the annulment of the contract whereby Mr. and Mrs. Iohannis acquired half the property from Baștea.

Mr. and Mrs. Iohannis and Ioan Baștea appeal again.

October 1, 2010 – Ioan Baștea dies in Jacksonville, Florida, at 49. In the ongoing trials, he is replaced by his widow, Rodica Baștea.

February 1, 2011 – It’s rent pay day again. Raiffeisen must pay another 30,000 euros to Klaus Iohannis, according to the 2006 contract.

February 1, 2012 – Another 30,000 euros must be paid to the bank account of the mayor of Sibiu.

June 10, 2012 – Klaus Iohannis is re-elected mayor of Sibiu, with 77.9% of the votes.

February 1, 2013 Pay day: Raiffeisen must pay another 30,000 euros to Klaus Iohannis.

November 26, 2013 – Retrying the appeal in the case concerning the building at 29 Nicolae Bălcescu street, the Court of Appeals decides to send the case back to the Brașov court once again.

The reason cited is the same as five years before: the Baștea family had not been subpoenaed at the correct address in Florida.

February 1, 2014 – Pay day: Raiffeisen must pay another 30,000 euros to Klaus Iohannis.

May 16, 2014 – The Brașov Court debates the same file, “29 Nicolae Bălcescu street”, for the third time in eight years.

The court must decide whether or not there are reasons to remove Mr. and Mrs. Iohannis and Rodica Baștea from the real estate registry of this building.

The verdict is identical to the previous two. Mr. and Mrs. Iohannis and Rodica Baștea lose the building.

Iohannis and Baștea appeal again and the trial goes back to the Brașov Court of Appeals for the third time.

 

THE 14th YEAR

 

November 16, 2014 – Klaus Iohannis is elected president of Romania.

February 1, 2015 – The lease contract with Raiffeisen Bank (2002-2017) enters its 14th year. Iohannis is due to collect the penultimate tranche of 30,000 euros.

If they are still co-owners of the building on February 1, 2016, Mr. and Mrs. Iohannis will collect the last tranche as well.

The lease contract with Raiffaisen expires on February 1, 2017 but payment is made one year in advance.

June 18, 2015 – The end of the trial started in 1999, in which Carmen Iohannis, Georgeta Lăzurca and Ioan Baștea required the annulment of property deeds held by several families for apartments in the building at 35 Gheorghe Magheru street.

The trial lasted 16 years. Iohannis and Baștea lost.

September 3, 2015 – The trial debating whether Klaus Iohannis was entitled to become the co-owner of the retail space at 29 Nicolae Bălcescu street is still underway at the Brașov Cpourt of Appeals. The next court date is September 3, 2015.

Citing procedural errors, the president of Romania and Baștea stalled the trial for seven years.

During this time, they collected seven years’ rent from Raiffeisen: approximately 210,000 euros per family, according to the lease contract signed in 2006.

What is interesting is that the power of attorney Ioan Baștea granted Klaus Iohannis in May 1999, as soon as the nationalization of the two buildings was annulled in court, Iohannis was empowered to act on Baștea’s behalf including in litigations that may arise in connection with the properties.

However, during the trials Baștea chose to be subpoenaed at his address in the United States, delaying the trying of the cases for months and years.

In the trials between Baștea, Iohannis and residents of the two buildings, court dates have been postponed on the sole ground of a missing receipt certifying Baștea had received the subpoena sent to him in the United States.

Detail:

At the Brașov Court of Appeals, in this file and the other one, ended June 18, 2015, Klaus Iohannis and his wife are represented by lawyer Adrian Rusu.

He is a partner at the law firm “Adam și Rusu”, together with former social democrat MP Ioan Adam.

In fall last year, Ioan Adam was indicted by anticorruption prosecutors in the case “Romsilva – Hrebenciuc – Ilie Sârbu”. He is accused of devising a plan together with the other defendants to use forged documents to reclaim approximately 43,000 hectares of forest.

 

THE MAYOR

It is worth noting that, in the trial in which Iohannis risks losing the retail space which generates most of the family’s income, Klaus Iohannis participated in double capacity since the beginning.

As a private individual, interested in conserving his ownership right over half of the property in question, and as mayor of Sibiu – a party in the case.

The interests of the city of Sibiu and of private individual Klaus Iohannis were opposite.

If Iohannis the private individual were to lose the retail space, the city of Sibiu would gain it – going back to the state of affairs in 1999, when the building was public property.

To determine the attitude of mayor Iohannis throughout the 13 years this trial went on, RISE Project required permission to study the file from the Brașov Court of Appeals, which is currently trying the case. The court rejected the request, saying the file contained personal information not meant for the eyes of the press.

Klaus Iohannis’ attitude as an official of the city of Sibiu in this trial is noted, albeit briefly, in some of the rulings issued so far by the Sibiu Court, the Brașov Court and the Brașov Court of Appeals. RISE has these rulings.

In the ruling passed by the Sibiu Court in 2004 and another by the Brașov Court in 2008, there are brief mentions of two actions of mayor Iohannis.

Mayor Iohannis requested that the court overrule the claim of the two families calling for his removal from the real estate registry of the building at 29 Nicolae Bălcescu street. He argued the two properties in downtown Sibiu had been retroceded based on a court ruling and an inheritance certificate that had not been nullified at that time.

Formally, the mayor’s arguments at that time were correct. However, Klaus Iohannis knew the restitution of the buildings was grounded on forged documents certifying an erroneous family relation.

The Alba Iulia prosecution office had started investigating this fraud in 2001. At that time, the prosecution decided not to indict Iohannis, his wife and his mother-in-law.

In the light of new evidence, by 2003, the prosecution office had reevaluated the case and had indicted secretary Liviu Munteanu for forgery. Additionally, also in 2003, the prosecution transferred the investigation targeting the Iohannis family to the Sibiu prosecution office.

Ionuț Stănescu

Victor Ilie

 Infographics: Sergiu Brega

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