GRISTMILL Ltd. / Frauded by my contractors!
My professional expertise is in mobile telecommunications and in TV interactivity. In January I was recruited by one of the partners and shareholders of a Cypriot company, called GRISTMILL Ltd, for a project of innovative mobile lottery in Romania. My recruiter is a known UK based corporation listed in one of the stock exchanges in Germany. Thus, convinced by the reputation of my recruiter, I signed a contract in February and at the beginning of the same month I moved to Bucharest.
According to the contract, I should have operated on behalf of my Cypriot contractor at a Bucharest based company called MCAT srl (eventually already renamed as GRISTMILL srl) and my responsibilities in the project were the coordination of the marketing activities related to the launch of the lottery product (licensed as an “interactive game of chance”), the recruiting & training of the marketing people, the coordination of the set-up of the technical infrastructure in cooperation with the local mobile operators.
Also, still according to the contract, I should have received (1) monthly advisory fees, (2) reimbursement of expenses, (3) bonus every 6 months, (4) stock options plan, (5) apartment, (6) notebook, (7) wireless internet connection, (8) mobile phone and mobile line. Besides, the contractor committed (by contract) to the payment of monthly fees for the remaining part of the 12 months in case of early termination of the contract without my will and/or fault. The total value of the contract, fees + fix bonuses, is roughly estimated in 80.000 euro.
When I arrived in Bucharest I was shocked as I saw what a “rat hole” of an apartment they had rented for me, but they quickly added “it’s just temporary, only for few days” and I thought all right, if for few days then I can survive. Indeed, they left me in that place, despite my daily complaints, for one full month.
But, folks, this was nothing when compared with the worse that was still to come.
The company had and still has no equipped offices, reason why all the meetings were held in places of fortune such as hotels, meeting room of the marketing agency, cafes, etc. and I the most of the time I worked at home. Also, I wasn’t provided with any of the tools at the points 6, 7 and 8 and thus I had to use my personal laptop, wireless internet card and mobile phone. And please note that, arriving to Bucharest from abroad, my internet card and my mobile line were making expensive roaming traffic. At the end of February, my bills for internet and mobile amounted over 2.500 euro. As agreed with my contractor I invoiced with punctuality both the advisory fees and the reimbursements of the expenses at the end of February.
Time was passing... meanwhile I was still living in the “rat hole”, and not alone but with my fiancée, whose coming to Bucharest was announced since the very beginning to my contractor; meanwhile I was working and taking care of my tasks with professionalism; meanwhile my invoice was still unpaid; meanwhile I had to advance from my pocket more than 3.500 euro of expenses.
Luckily, when almost mid March I managed to find by myself a decent apartment and after some pressure on my contractor and on their man-of-trust on the field I convince those “gentlemen” to sign the contract and finally I could move to the new apartment. Open parenthesis, the contract for my apartment was not signed by my Cypriot contractors (i.e. GRISTMILL Ltd) but by the Romanian company (i.e. MCAT srl) they own for the 55%. And if I have not said this yet, then I shall specify that the directors of the Cypriot company are also director in the Romanian company: same people, same names and same faces. Close parenthesis. My landlord was promised the payment of the contractual fees not later than March 24th. Surprise, the fees were not paid and following a first letter of warning, which received no answer, my landlord terminated the contract and I was forced to pack my stuff, to leave the apartment over night and to make return to my country. This happened April 4th.
Few days before my leaving Bucharest my lawyers sent a letter to my contractors in Cyprus and to their company in Romania asking for clarifications. Shall I say? No reply whatsoever! All those gentlemen are like vanished. They even avoided to showing up their faces in Bucharest for weeks, while in the meantime I was receiving phone calls from some of their creditors that by chance knew my phone number (e.g. the real estate agency which procured my apartment, the marketing agency, the recruiting agency, etc.).
Thus, cutting a long and unpleasant story short, as per today no one of my invoices (February and March) has been paid, I was forced to leave Bucharest, I had to cover 3.500 euro of expenses, no official reply was received by my lawyers and I am about to start a law sue against my contractors. What do you think, is this a case of fraud?
And now allow me to add an important detail, if you go on some Romanian job posting web site you still find the advertisements of MCAT srl. Personally I interviewed (in the office of the recruiting agency, since we had no offices) more than 30 candidates for different positions… and some of them were even notified they would receive a proposal within few days... well, weeks have passed and not just one of them has received any proposals or was even contacted by the MCAT srl. I feel so terribly sorry for all those people who had been given fake hopes.
I conclude by saying that those “gentlemen” I was working for are a threat for the community. They lure people and suppliers with promises that in the most of the cases are never kept. And these skilled cheaters are planning to run a lottery game in Romania? Ah, remember folks, EUROPLAY... this is the name of the game licensed by the Ministry of Finance of Romania... does anyone feel comfortable to risk any lei?
Finally, whoever was or is in contact with MCAT srl/GRISTMILL srl, with GRISTMILL Ltd, with their representatives and feels that he/she has been cheated or that it could possibly be, please write to me and I’ll be more than happy to provide all possible information, details and documentation related to the company, its shareholders, its directors and representatives.
Watch your back!