Press Release: Harvard Manager Detained in Romania

CONTACT: Sandra Korn, sandrakorn@college.harvard.edu(732) 796-8052

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 24, 2013

HARVARD MANAGER DETAINED IN ROMANIA FOR CORRUPTION

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.

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.

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BREAKING: Harvard manager detained in Romania on corruption charges

Full press release to come; for now, please see this email we sent to our supporters this morning:

Yesterday, Romanian authorities detained Dragoș Secu, director of 100%-owned Harvard timber company Scolopax, for accepting multi-million dollar bribes and luxury gifts to illegally acquire land on Harvard’s behalf.

Dragoș Lipan-Secu, former managing director of Scolopax, with his wife Mariana . Image via http://www.voceatransilvaniei.ro/
Dragoș Lipan-Secu, former managing director of Scolopax, with his wife Mariana . Image via http://www.voceatransilvaniei.ro/

This is foreign direct investment at its worst.

It’s part of an alarming pattern at Harvard Management Company. Yesterday was the third time in recent months that a company owned by Phemus Corporation, a Harvard investment fund, was implicated in an investment scandal.

Last year, a Chilean judge found Harvard guilty of illegally cutting protected forests. In October, student field research exposed environmentally destructive practices by Harvard’s timber companies in northern Argentina.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

The RI@H Coalition has been calling on Harvard President Drew Faust to implement responsible ownership policies for more than eight months. It’s a decision you or I could make in a minute: these policies would require Harvard companies to uphold Harvard values.

Yesterday’s news from Romania made one thing clear: We need to make our call even louder.

Will you join us in asking President Faust to require Harvard companies to uphold Harvard values?

Yes, I will click here to send an email to President Faust now.

No, but I will pledge my support for the responsible ownership campaign.

When President Faust lets Harvard investment managers pursue profits at any cost, she does not want the Harvard community to find out. By taking action, you’re helping us call her bluff.

Ibera: Brillo de agua, brillo de vida

The following poem was written by Arturo Rolla, a Professor at Harvard Medical School from Corrientes, Argentina.

I-BERA
Brillo de agua,
brillo de vida.

Un paraíso hecho estero
y estero, laguna-mar
en el plata de tus aguas
cielo y nubes reflejados
van a atardecer en rojo
detrás de los embalsados.

Tus aguas se quiebran quietas
con el nadar del carpincho,
las garzas volando al raso
se reflejan al pasar
y el yacaré en tu laguna
se siente el dueño del mar.

Y verá el que te visite
tu brillo entre camalotes,
el ciervo de los pantanos,
la flor del caraguatá,
y verá que aun en tus ramas
está aullando el carayá.

Por el brillo de tus aguas
hasta el tiempo se detiene.
Iberá, madre laguna
de rios que al sur se van
lluvia y tierra entremezclando
un horizonte se harán.

Un cielo vino a la tierra
para formar tu laguna,
tiempo y agua detenidos
de siglos desobedientes,
con la altivez guaraní
de tu provincia, Corrientes.!

Un reino de bicherío
que no se debe perder
creación-natura, un regalo
a un paso de su extinción.
Te fue destruyendo el hombre,
mbaé civilización.

Que cuando vuelvan mis hijos
y los nietos de sus nietos
encuentren en tu agua el brillo
que es tu naturaleza
para que al guardar aprendan
la esencia de tu grandeza.

Iberá, brilla en las mentes
y esperamos que sea aquí
donde hombre y bestia se encuentran
unidos en hermandad
para ejemplo y beneficio
de toda la humanidad.

Con paz, respeto y amor
por hombre, animal y planta
cambiaremos tu destino
ñande retá en Iberá,
la vida en la vida vive
del agua vive y será!

English translation by Sam Wohns ’14:

I-BERA
Brightness of water,
brightness of life.

A wetlands-made paradise
and wetlands, lagoon-sea
in the silver of your waters
sky and clouds reflected
become red in the evening
behind the rafts.

Your calm waters break
with the swimming of capybara,
herons flying close by
reflect at passing
and the yacaré in your lagoon
it feels it owns the sea.

And whoever visits will see
your brightness between the grasses,
the deer of the swamps,
the flower of the Caraguatá,
and will see yet on your branches
the carayá is howling.

For the brightness of your waters
even time stands still.
Iberá, lagoon mother
of rivers going south
rain and soil intermixed
a horizon will become.

A sky fell to earth
to form your lagoon,
time and water standing still
of centuries defiant,
with guaraní haughtiness
of your province Corrientes.!

A bug kingdom
that should not be missed,
nature-made, a gift
close to extinction.
Man is destroying you,
civilization as it was.

That when my sons return
and the grandsons of their grandsons
find in your water the brightness
that is your nature
that to hold it they will learn
the essence of your nature.

Iberá, shines in our minds
and we hope that it is here
where man and beast find
united in equality
as a precedent and benefit
of all humanity.

With peace, respect and love
for man, animal and plant
we will change your destiny
our land in Iberá,
Life in life lives
of water lives and will be!