Ex-FNI director Nicolae Popa, released on parole

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The former director of the National Investment Fund (FNI) Nicolae Popa has been released on parole. He has stayed for almost six years in prison, three years and two months in Romania, after the had been sentenced to 10 years and four months in jail. Prosecutors haven’t challenged the ruling.

Nicolae Popa had been initially sentenced in absentia to 15 years in prison for fraud in 2006. Ioana Maria Vlas was also judged in the same file, for the FNI collapse.

Before being convicted, Nicolae Popa has fled the country. Later on he has been tracked down in Indonesia and then arrested in 2009. He was brought in Romania two years later.

In 2000, over 100,000 Romanians lost their money invested in the FNI Ponzi scheme, while the Romanian state that had become bail for the fund, had to pay about EUR 100 M as compensations.

Sorin Ovidiu Vintu was a controversial businessman who owned the Gelsor Invest, the company that managed FNI. Vintu withdrew large sums of money from the fund only days before the fund’s collapse and sold Gelsor to Ioana Maria Vlas, who was also sentenced to prison in this high-sounding file.

Sorin Ovidiu Vintu was sent to court in this case on September 24, 2012, facing charges of money laundering and abetment in embezzlement.

Vintu was sentenced to eight years in prison in the FNI case in February this year.

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