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Romania: EBRD Bankers Question Trade Figures

Kyiv, 10 May 1998 (RFE/RL) - Private western bankers at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development's board meeting in Kyiv are questioning discrepancies in Bucharest's accounting records regarding import and export trade.

Michael Marrese, a senior economist at Chase Manhattan Bank in New York, asked Romanian officials in Kyiv today how Bucharest intends to categorize a large amount of errors and omissions in its official accounts of the country's balance of payments.

Romanian National Bank Governor Mugur Isarescu admitted that more than $1 billion fell into the accounting category of errors and omissions during 1997. But Romanian delegates gave no clear answer to Marrese's specific question as to whether the money will be categorized under current accounts or capital accounts.

Minister of Finance Daniel Daianu said the high figures for errors and omissions are not surprising considering what he called tremendous pressure on Romania's Leu currency and a sharp increase in foreign investment last year.

"A lot of money was flowing in both visibly and invisibly," said Daianu.

The Romanian government is currently embroiled in a scandal over the alleged participation of customs officials in large-scale smuggling schemes.