March 25, 2023

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What suspicious actions did “NIS Petrol”, controlled by Gazprom. Four employees are prosecuted by DIICOT

A special DIICOT operation targeted the Romanian branch of the Serbian company “NIS Petrol”, controlled by Russians from Gazprom.

It is about suspicions of disclosure of service secrets related to Romania’s oil and gas deposits.

Four suspects, employees of NIS, are accused of having sent to the parent company in Belgrade reports made following the prospecting of some lands in Romania, instead of sending them to the National Agency for Mineral Resources.

The operation took place on Monday morning, in Timișoara, but also in the capital.

Disclosure of classified information from the Service Secret category to Russians interested in Romania’s oil and gas fields. It is the suspicion that DIICOT prosecutors are now investigating, which is why the officers of the Directorate for Combating Organized Crime and the gendarmes launched nine searches. The main target is the Timisoara subsidiary of the Serbian company Nis Petrol, owned by Gazprom and controlled by the Russian Federation.

Ramona Bolla, DIICOT spokeswoman: “Prosecutors of the Organized Crime Investigation Department TM are conducting nine house searches in a case with the purpose of committing the crimes of disclosure of secret service or non-public information and unauthorized transfer of computer data.”

NIS Petrol has been operating in Romania for several years and owns 19 Gazprom gas stations. The Serbian company has concessioned from the National Agency of Mineral Resources no less than 6 oil and gas perimeters. Two are in Bihor county, and the other four in Timiș county. In a public response to the show “Romania, I love you!” NIS Petrol officials explained that they exploit deposits in Romania, based on concessions made for 20 and even 25 years. They chose the west of the country because the perimeters there are close to the Gazprom refinery in Serbia.

According to the contract with the Romanian state, the NIS Petrol company had to notify the National Agency for Mineral Resources of any discovery it makes in Romania’s underground. According to the investigators, this did not happen, and sensitive information about the deposits in the west of the country reached the company’s headquarters in Belgrade.

Following the searches, eight people were taken to hearings at the DIICOT Timișoara headquarters.

After several hours of hearings, the DIICOT prosecutors started the criminal investigation against four of the employees of NIS PETROL Romania. It is about 4 citizens born in the Republic of Moldova, but who reside in Romania and, according to sources close to the investigation, would be members of the management and execution staff of the company’s subsidiary in Serbian Romania controlled by the Russian Federation.

“Regarding 4 of the people brought to the hearings (foreign and Romanian citizens), the prosecutors of the Organized Crime and Terrorism Investigation Directorate – Timişoara Territorial Service filed charges under the aspect of committing the crimes of disclosing official or non-public information and unauthorized transfer of computer data claiming that, as employees of a subsidiary of a multinational company (having managerial or other responsibilities within the company or, on the contrary, not having the necessary authorization to carry out certain operations within this company), they evaded the rules methodological for the application of the Petroleum Law, respectively the procedures imposed by the National Agency for Mineral Resources and sent non-publicized data regarding the resource fund (mineral reserves) in Romania to the company from the same consortium in Serbia”, DIICOT said.

“I do not at all exclude the possibility of a real guilt of the NIS. It is important to emphasize that they are not Serbian citizens, it has nothing to do with us. They are mostly Russian, but we will ask for more information from the Romanian police”, he said the Serbian president in front of reporters in Budapest.

The name of the NIS Petrol company also appeared in an identical scandal in 2014. Then, a Serbian geologist was allegedly prevented by the border police from taking data and information related to Romania’s oil and gas deposits out of the country. He would have had both paper documentation and an electronic data storage device on him. The investigation was carried out by the prosecutors of the Timiș Prosecutor’s Office, but after years of research, it was closed. The Serbian citizen was not charged and tried.

NIS Petrol Romania officials have not yet provided any point of view related to the DIICOT investigation.

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