Romania probes $34 million fraud at Roman Empire spa

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — A businessman and five others suspected of defrauding a spa that dates from the Roman empire of 30 million euros (about $34 million) were detained Thursday, Romanian prosecutors said.

Prosecutor Adrian Stamatin said that Iosif Armas, chairman of a company that manages the Herculaneum Spa, and other shareholders are suspected of illegally selling assets and taking out loans in the spa’s name that could not be repaid.

That led to the seizure of assets at the spa, a tourist attraction in southwestern Romania.

Six others, including a former spa manager, are also being investigated. The spa is still open.

There was no immediate comment from Armas, a former lawmaker and a past chairman of the Romanian Boxing Federation, or his representatives.

Prosecutors said Armas is suspected of creating a criminal group that orchestrated payments to his company from creditors of SC Hercules SA, which runs the spa.

The spa, which became popular with the conquering Romans, is known for its hot springs containing sulfur and other minerals. In the communist era, retirees and state workers would visit it for the reportedly healing properties of the waters. In recent years, private hotels and guesthouses have opened.