The woman, who embezzled over EUR 1 million from accounts opened at a branch of CEC Bank in the southern Transylvanian city of Zalatna (Zlatna), was released on parole in January 2021. The ziare.com news portal recounted the astounding story of Elena Metesan, a bank employee who sought to take revenge on her bosses and donated the embezzled money to churches.
Elena Metesan was sentenced in 2018 to five years and six months in prison. She was released from the Szamosújvár (Gherla) Penitentiary in January 2021. Metesan owes CEC Bank a total of RON 4,227,940, plus EUR 235,981, but the magistrates who ruled on her parole found that she had no income at all. Therefore, the 59-year-old did not pay and will not pay back the sums she took. In order to be granted parole, Metesan had to have spent at least 1,340 days in prison; she served more than that, a total of 1,700 days.
“The detainee was disciplined. She executed her sentence in an open regime [ed. note: minimal restrictions, plenty of outdoor time] but did not work during detention, as she was unfit. Nevertheless, she maintained normal behavior and the time she spent in correction seemed to have an effect on her. She was receptive to the cultural and educational activities. For good behavior, she was rewarded three times with additional rights during her prison time,” states the Gherla Court decision dated January 15, 2021.
The Zlatna CEC Bank scandal broke in August 2016, when several individual depositors found that they no longer had a single leu in their bank accounts. CEC Bank has paid back the money stolen to 185 of the wronged clients, while 129 customers were not automatically compensated, as they did not have documents attesting that they had money in their accounts. Most of these latter sued the bank and obtained the required damages in court, ziare.com wrote.
In her statement to the investigators, Elena Metesan pointed out that she did not want to harm the bank’s clients, as she knew that they would be compensated anyway, nor did she want to get rich, claiming that she had donated the stolen money. Metesan stated she was dissatisfied with her working conditions, with the way she was treated by her superiors and the salary she received.
“The main purpose of the defendant was to sabotage the activity of CEC Bank. Elena Metesan was of the opinion that she was not properly appreciated by the firm’s management, thus she wanted to obtain financial remedies,” said the court upon convicting her.
It is likely that most of the money stolen from CEC Bank’s customers was donated to Orthodox parishes in Zlatna, ziare.com wrote. During the searches carried out in 2016 at Metesan’s home, the investigators did not find any money, only some bank documents. She had carried out her criminal activity for over six years, and her managers had had no suspicions. The situation exploded when she could no longer hide the missing money.
“The defendant admitted her deeds, stating that she withdrew sums from the clients’ accounts. One of her methods was to write a notice of withdrawal on behalf of the client, which she then sent in electronic format to the head of the agency. The manager signed the notice, as they suspected no wrongdoing. Then the document was sent to the cashier, Popa Viorica (the sister of the defendant), who gave the specified amount of cash to Metesan. She appropriated the money, signing on behalf of the client on the receiving note, wrote the court in its decision.
Some of her clients were issued a bank document entitled “cash withdrawal/deposit” (this type of document is no longer used), which contained the identification data of the depositor, the description of the operation (the amount deposited ), the bank branch, the date of the operation, the signature of the client, and those of the banking officials (the account officer and cashier).
But these documents were never registered in the bank’s records, as they were just forms without any series or identification numbers; they only contained the header of the branch. Thus, some of the clients found that, although they could present these documents, they were never registered as customers with a deposit account opened at the bank.
Moreover, Metesan used another method of embezzlement: She did not deposit the money clients gave her to put in a new account; she sometimes simply embezzled the money without opening any accounts for the new clients.
Title image: Elena Metesan has no means to pay the money back to the bank and claims to have donated the embezzled sums.