Romanian oil baron Patriciu dies

AFP
RThen president of Rompetrol Dinu Patriciu addresses the media outside a court in Bucharest on February 24, 2006
Then president of Rompetrol Dinu Patriciu addresses the media outside a court in Bucharest on February 24, 2006 (AFP Photo/Daniel Mihailescu)

Bucharest (AFP) - Oil magnate Dinu Patriciu, who founded post-communist Romania's first private company and was once the country's wealthiest person, died Tuesday in a London hospital, media reports said. He was 64.

An architect by training, Patriciu took over the country's second largest oil company, Rompetrol, in 1998 and turned it into a multinational based in The Netherlands with operations in 10 countries.

Rompetrol acquired French distributor Dyneff in 2005, a transaction that doubled the company's turnover to $5.0 billion (3.7 billion euros at current exchange rates).

Patriciu sold 75 percent of Rompetrol's shares to the Kazakh group KazMunayGaz two years later for an undisclosed sum, making him Romania's wealthiest person with assets estimated at $3.4 billion in 2007.

Shaky investments in the retail sector eroded his fortune, although he still had real estate in Germany, Sweden and Poland worth an estimated 1.1 billion euros at the time of his death, according to the Mediafax news agency.

Patriciu was acquitted on charges of fraud, money laundering and insider trading in 2012, a verdict that is on appeal, with the next hearing in the case involving 11 other defendants set for September 2.

Patriciu also dabbled in politics, being elected as an MP for the National Liberal Party, Romania's second largest, in 1992 and again in 2000.