High court convicts key player in pyramid scheme collapse to 10 years in prison, decision is final

Publish date: 04-06-2009
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Romania's High Court of Cassation and Justice sentenced Ioana Maria Vlas to 10 years behind bars in the FNI (National Investments Fund) file, a pyramid scheme which collapsed in May 2000, causing thousands to lose their savings.

The court decided on March 9 to restart the trial of the recourse in the FNI file, where Ana Maria Vlas is charged with fraud and was sentenced to 10 years in jail in June 2008.

The defendant's lawyer urged the court in the final pleading to cut the previous sentence, adding that Vlas is no longer looking to be acquitted.

During trial, the lawyer said Vlas admits to the charge of abuse and regrets the deed. However, Vlas was allegedly morally constrained to remain in FNI, as there was no way out of this business.

The lawyer also mentioned Vlas was the president of SOV Invest for only one year and three months, as the rest of the period she was away in Israel.

Nearly half of the 300,000 people who invested in the FNI are seeking 5 billion lei (1.5 million euros) in damages from the fund's managers. The Bucharest Court ruled on October 13, 2005 that 128,476 former FNI investors will receive the entire value of their deposits at the time of the fund's collapse.


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