Bucharest Bar Council vs. SCPA Dragan & Partners law firm - analysis on committing material forgery on official documents

Two lawyers are involved in a significant criminal scandal which could disrupt the good order of the Bucharest Bar. They are accused of forging documents while exercising their profession and causing important damages to multiple businessmen and companies.

Although the prosecutor who handled the case retained several acts of forging official documents, he considered that there is no public interest to send the two lawyers to court. The two lawyers continue to work in a law firm which was established in a questionable manner considering that the decision based on which it was founded in 2013 actually belongs to a different company closed down through the resolution of the same  Bucharest Bar and dated 2007. The Bar has just recently decided, after multiple notifications, to investigate these circumstances.

The case involves two lawyers, Dragan Ioana Candida and Dragoi Orlando Catalin, shareholders of the Law Firm „Drăgan & Partners” and it all begins in 2013 when a businessman signed two representation agreements with the law firm, one as a natural person and one for the company which he manages and owns. He shows that afterwards he discovered that the lawyer Dragan Ioana Candida established, in his name and on his behalf, a new company by forging his signature on several documents. The company was established in 2013 and was dissolved the following year. A different company, respectively Gama Proconsult SRL steps in, which also incurred losses and damages caused by the two lawyers. During its short existence, the company Skycore SRL, established by the two lawyers through absolute and full forgery of the incorporation documents, sent, in August 2013, complaints to the State Department for Construction and the City Hall of Sector 6, regarding a construction project presumed to be performed by the company Gama Proconsult SRL, complaints which bore the signature of Mr. Stefan Stan, shareholder and administrator of Skycore SRL, who actually had no connection or knowledge about this procedure undertaken with the above mentioned institutions. Based on the notices, the company Gama Proconsult is sanctioned and fined by the local Police for actions which it hadn’t carried out. After about three years, the company Gama Proconsult SRL finally wins in Court and the Contravention Penalty Report is cancelled and the foreclosure proceeding by Anaf S6 (National Agency for Fiscal Administration of Sector 6) against the company is terminated.

Several comments can be made in this regard, however, for the moment, we’ll focus our attention on the criminal file no. 680/P/2016, handled by the Public Prosecutor’s Office attached to the Bucharest Court of Appeal resulted from Gama Proconsult’s complaint.

During May 2017, following the complaints received, the Public prosecutor’s Office decides to start a criminal investigation against Attorney Dragan Ioana Candida, for committing material forgery on official documents, complicity in using a forgery and counterfeit and against Attorney Dragoi Orlando Catalin for forgery on official documents and against Popescu Dana for use of forgery. “It’s hereby retained that the suspects Dragan Ioana Candida and Dragoi Orlando Catalina have forged, in their capacity of lawyers, through complete forgery, the articles of incorporation of the company Skycore SRL, the legal assistance agreement series B No. 851562/2013 and the affidavit dated 18.07.2013 submitted by the suspect Dragan Ioana Candida to be used on 24.07.2013 and 25.07.2013 at the ORCTB by the suspect Dragan Ioana Candida to incorporate and register the company Skycore SRL on 25.07.2013. Also, the suspect Dragan Ioana Candida sent to the City Hall of Sector 6 of Bucharest and to the State Department for Construction complaints on behalf of the Administrator of the company Skycore SRL, whose signature was forged”, as the Ordinance of the Prosecutor’s Office shows.

No Public Interest

An extended investigation was carried out, including examinations to determine if the respective signatures were forged. In their defense, the suspects confirmed that the businessman knew about the incorporation of the company as he chose the logo and negotiated on behalf of the company.

However, the examinations show that multiple signatures of the businessman were forged.

Further on we quote from the same ordinance: “It’s determined that the Articles of Incorporation of the company Skycore SRL, the affidavit of Stefan Stan and the legal assistance agreement, which were not signed by Stefan Stan, were forged through complete forgery by the suspects Dragan Ioana Candida and Dragoi Orlando Catalin, act which is provided by the provisions regarding material forgery on official documents as per art. 320 of the Criminal Code with application of art 35 para 1 of the Criminal Code. However, the punishment provided by law for this crime is of 3 years at the most, and through the actual manner of committing the act, the purpose, the resulted consequences (the company was immediately closed down), the discrepancy between the expenses occurred by a criminal trial and the gravity of the consequences actually resulted, considering the individuals and the previous behaviour of the suspects Dragan Ioana Candida and Dragoi Orlando Cristian, the criminal investigation may cease, as there is no public interest to continue the investigation of the respective act.”

In other words, to summarize what the prosecutors wrote in the 20 pages of the ordinance, some acts were acquitted, others were retained against the suspects, but the Romanian state considers it wouldn’t have anything to gain by sending them to court.

The Ordinance reaches the judge, who on 11.06.2018 retains the following:

- “the documents at hand were certified by the suspect Dragoi Orlando Catalin (the Articles of Incorporation of the company SKYCORE SRL and the affidavit of Mr Stan Stefan), certification which involves the identification of the person, respectively signed by the suspect Dragan Ioana Candida (the legal assistance agreement series B No. 855621/2013) which also involves the identification of the party who signed the agreement”

- “in agreement with the Prosecutor, he retains that the suspects have committed the crime of material forgery in official documents as provided by art 320 of the Criminal Code with application of art 35 para 1 of the Criminal Code, with the guilt provided by law, so the possibility that a different person undertook the identity of the harmed person and misled the two suspects, is excluded”;

“In conclusion, further to the above shown, the judge cannot retain the request of the suspects to acquit them for committing material forgery on official documents as provided by art 320 of the Criminal Code with application of art 35 para 1 of the Criminal Code.”

Also, the judge retains that the suspects committed these actions during their duties as lawyers”. Final, according to art 318 para 16 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

How does the Bucharest Bar react?

One of the harmed parties, Mr Stefan Stan, a businessman and the Vice-President of the ROCCIJA- the Romanian Chamber of Industry and Commerce in Japan, submitted complaints to the Bucharest Bar, since 2016, requesting the disciplinary hearings of the two lawyers.

The first complaint, sent before the ending of the criminal file, was treated as irrelevant. After the decision was issued by the Court, he re-sent the complaint. In turn, the company Gama Proconsult SRL which was penalized based on a forged document issued by Skycore SRL, also notified the institution.

Only on Tuesday, May 14th 2019 – coincidentally or not, during the period of re-electing the management of the Bucharest Bar, the Council of the Bar discussed the case, inviting both complainants and afterwards, separately the two lawyers to provide their points of view and positions. Also, a representative of the online portal dedicated to entrepreneurs – Romania Business – was also invited to attend the discussions, and the President of the Bar, Attorney Ion Dragne, confirmed that serious examinations are being undertaken and that a decision shall be communicated to us.

The complainants confirmed the existence of circumstances for disciplinary hearings of the two lawyers, which could result in suspending their activity and even their exclusion from the Bucharest Bar for serious infringements of the status of attorney, incompatible with the profession which Dragan Ioana Candida and Dragoi Orlando Catalin should have carried out with honour and correctly according to the oath.

“I’m glad that this case is being handled, even if three years have passed since the first complaint I made. I trust that the Bucharest Bar will treat it with maximum seriousness and won’t try to cover the actions of these two lawyers, because otherwise the Bucharest Bar would send the message that any lawyer can perform serious misconduct, respectively criminal offences, without risking any sanctions”, says Mr Stefan Stan at the end of the discussions.

We consider that this case presents interest for the business environment in Romania, as it encourages businessmen to carefully choose their partners and collaborators and allows the public opinion to acknowledge the lawyers and law firms which practice their profession by infringing the law although they swear to defend and respect it.

Surely, the law Firm Dragan & Partners and the attorneys Dragan Ioana Candida and Dragoi Orlando Catalin should be avoided regardless of the decision which shall be made by the Bucharest Bar.

In support of the above, for the moment we’ll publish the link off www.portal.just.ro which shows the offences retained against the attorney Dragan Ioana Candida – 4 acts of forgery on official documents and 5 material acts for the same crime against Dragoi Orlando Catalin: http://portal.just.ro/2/SitePages/Dosar.aspx?id_dosar=200000000362771&id_inst=2

Also, Romania Business’ editorial team is expecting an official statement from the Bucharest Bar regarding the measures undertaken in this case, which represents a real interest for the complainants as well as for the other attorneys which are members of the Bucharest Bar, and who surely don’t want to be associated with the representatives of the Law Firm “Dragan & Partners”.

To be continued….