Harvard manager detained in Romania on corruption charges

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 24, 2013

Managing director of Scolopax accused of accepting bribes

Cambridge, MA—On Tuesday, Romanian authorities detained Dragoș Lipan Secu, the managing director of the Harvard-owned forestry company Scolopax SRL, along with his wife Mariana, for illegal business practices.

Romanian news sources reported that between 2007 and 2008, Mariana and Dragoș Lipan Secu accepted bribes totaling to 4.450.000 leu, or more than $1.3 million USD, in addition to a vacation to Gran Canaria and a Chrysler Sebring car. In exchange, they purchased land on behalf of Scolopax at prices and under conditions favorable to the sellers.

What is Scolopax SRL
Scolopax SRL is fully owned by Harvard University and directly controlled by Harvard-owned holding company Phemus Corporation. According to Romanian news sources, Scolopax is the largest private owner of forests in Romania, with over 35,000 hectares of land.

Scolopax is the fourth Harvard-owned company to recently come under scrutiny for corporate misconduct. Last summer, Harvard-owned Agricola Brinzal was found guilty of illegal destruction of native forests in Chiloe, Chile. In October 2013, the Responsible Investment at Harvard Coalition and the Oakland Institute exposed irresponsible labor and environmental standards at two of Harvard’s timber plantations in the Argentinian wetlands, EVASA and Las Misiones.

Agricola Brinzal, EVASA, Las Misiones, and Scolopax are all 99.9 or 100% owned by Harvard, according to the university’s tax filings.

“Harvard currently has no verifiable system of oversight or accountability for the practices of its fully-owned companies,” said Aryt Alasti from the Responsible Investment at Harvard Coalition. “We are demanding that Harvard adopt a Position of Responsible Ownership that works to maintain legal compliance, fair environmental and labor practices, respect for land rights and non-discrimination policies, and transparency in corporate governance.”

Thus far, Harvard President Drew Faust has failed to respond to RI@Harvard’s request.

Image information: Yellow and green spring forests along curvy hills enclosing the village. Snow covered Fagaras mountains are in the background with dark clouds and an overcast white sky above them.; Date 29 April 2008, 10:31; Source: Glowing spring forests in front of mountains; Author: Horia Varlan from Bucharest, Romania

Source: The Responsible Investment at Harvard Coalition

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