Romanian police are expanding their investigation into former kickboxing champion Andrew Tate, seizing a fleet of luxury cars from his Bucharest compound over the weekend, and raiding seven more properties – including a newly renovated villa beneath the Carpathian Mountains.
A slow procession of trucks carrying Mr. Tate’s prized collection of luxury vehicles through the high black gates of his compound brought them to join him in police custody. The sight of Mr. Tate’s shiny dove-grey Porsche perched delicately on the battered frame of a police tow truck neatly captured his change in fortune.
One spectator stood at the side of the street. I think of myself as a fan, Emmanuel said. “Every boy enjoys his way of life.
“We’ll see whether what I’m hearing about him is accurate, but I don’t like it. If I see evidence, I’ll adjust my perspective.”
In the event that Andrew Tate or his brother Tristan are charged with people trafficking, some people in this country believe that the seizure of the cars is a sign that the Romanian authorities are getting ready for the next step in this case and securing assets as collateral against potential compensation claims from victims.
Seven additional houses were raided last week, which is largely regarded as an indication that investigators are extending their search for relevant material.
The Tate villa, which was just searched by police on Thursday, is in the town of Comarnic, two hours’ journey to the north. Small, hand-built sheds are perched against the property’s high walls.
According to local neighbours, the property had a total renovation last year that was just recently finished.
Trandafir Beldica resides next to the villa’s main entrance in a dilapidated apartment building.
The construction supervisor requested me to work on the electrics, but when he explained what they wanted, Trandafir said, “I told them that was much above what I understood how to do.”
The mansion offers “all the luxuries you can think of,” he claimed inside.
It’s quite opulent, he said. They could afford to create a swimming pool and divide it up into flats, which is something that people like us could only dream of.
This investigation’s main focus is on Andrew Tate’s source of income.
Police are investigating if he used promises of a committed relationship or marriage to entice women to Romania before coercing or coercing them into working as models for him in pornographic chat rooms.
In addition, they are investigating rape claims made by one of the witnesses.
Six women have been identified as prospective victims, according to the investigators. However, two of the women under inquiry publicly denied last week that the Tate brothers had ever mistreated them.
The women worked in the Bucharest complex where Andrew Tate lived with his brother and the models who worked for his adult webcam business. The women’s tattoos read “Property of Tate” and “Tate Girl.”
One of the ladies, identified as Beatrice, claimed to have been “close friends” with the Tate brothers for two years and got “Tate Girl” tattooed on her arm “out of respect for them” in an interview with Romania’s Antena 1 TV channel.
Jasmin, the second woman, claimed she had never witnessed Tristan or Mr. Tate acting “aggressively or rudely.”
Their identities have been confirmed by a former Tate employee.
Never was I ever in danger, Beatrice claimed. “If I were, I wouldn’t be so foolish as to remain in that home.
If I’m not a victim, you can’t refer to me as one in the case file,
Beatrice described how 20 police officers barged into the property in December and went upstairs to a bedroom where, according to Beatrice, two other women had barricaded themselves in anticipation of the raid.
“They shattered the door. The women yelled “said Beatrice.
However, the officers were unaware that the bedroom key was on the bed.
Others with various recollections of the raid have been interviewed.
The evidence that investigators have so far acquired is not quite clear. Claims, counterclaims, and conspiracy theories coexist among the Tates’ erstwhile associates.
Although no charges have been filed as of yet, the case is already sending a powerful message to both traffickers and victims, according to Mihaela Dragus, spokeswoman for Romania’s National Anti-Trafficking Agency.
She claims that it sends a very important message that the court system chose to keep the boys in jail even during the initial stages of the case.
Andrew Tate describes his decision to relocate to Romania in one of his social media videos from 2017.
The #MeToo era is one of his motivations, he claims. “People accuse you of being a rapist. No, I am not a rapist, but I do appreciate the thought of being liberated to do as I like.”
“The [Romanian] police will respond if she goes to them and says, “He raped me yesterday,” by asking, “Do you have evidence? Does CCTV evidence?”
None of this provides proof that Mr. Tate engaged in human trafficking or rape, but Laura Stefan, a well-known anti-corruption activist and legal expert who works with the Expert Forum think tank, believes that Mr. Tate’s assessment of Romania’s stance on sexual crimes is accurate.
She said, “In a way, he’s right. I think he made a good estimate, but listening to him and the way he expressed why he came here, I could identify with that.
But she asserts that things are altering.
“Trafficking is a big issue in Romania, and I think the Romanian authorities have realised that this needs to be addressed,” she said.
That entails dealing with the victims and offering them support, in addition to looking into a few hotshots.
Romania achieved enough progress in 2017 to be removed off the US Trafficking In Persons report’s radar.
However, the report reiterated worries regarding Romanian officials’ involvement in human trafficking.
This case, involving a divisive, well-known individual with dual citizenship between the United States and the United Kingdom, has renewed attention on how Romania responds to accusations of organised crime and sexual exploitation.
Less than two weeks remain for police to either charge the Tate brothers or gather sufficient proof to keep them in custody while the investigation is ongoing.
The reputation of Andrew Tate is at stake. Romania’s is as well.