Romanian court will look again at seizure of influencer Tate’s assets

(Reuters) -A Romanian court has accepted a challenge brought by U.S.-British social media influencer Andrew Tate against the seizure of his assets as part of a pending human trafficking criminal case, court documents showed on Monday, meaning judges must rule on the issue again.

Tate, who gained millions of fans by promoting an ultra-masculine lifestyle, was indicted in June along with his brother Tristan and two Romanian women for human trafficking, rape and forming a criminal gang to sexually exploit women, allegations they have denied. It is not yet clear when their trial will begin.

In January 2023, Romanian authorities said they had seized goods and money worth 18 million lei ($4 million) as part of a criminal inquiry into Tate, including cash, designer watches and luxury cars. A month later, prosecutors said they had also seized some properties and cryptocurrency.

In December, the Bucharest court overturned Tate’s challenge against the asset seizure but on Monday, the Bucharest Court of Appeals accepted his request and ordered that the seizure be reanalysed. Technically the assets remain seized until that reassessment and ruling is made.

“We salute the decision today and applaud the judge for what we consider to be a legally correct and justified ruling,” Eugen Vidineac, lead counsel for Tate, said in a statement.

Romania’s anti-organized crime prosecuting unit DIICOT could not immediately be reached for comment.

It is unclear when the trial of the Tates and the two Romanian women will go ahead. While the investigation ended when the four were indicted, the case is now with the Bucharest court’s preliminary chamber, which needs to inspect the files to ensure their legality.

The trial cannot start until that process is completed, but Romania’s courts remain backlogged with cases.

The Tate brothers were held in police custody pending a criminal investigation from late December 2022 until April, to prevent them from fleeing the country or tampering with evidence.

They were then placed under house arrest until August. Since then, they have been under judicial control, a lighter preventative measure meaning they have regular check-ins with the police but can move around freely except for leaving the country.

Tate, a self-described misogynist, has gained millions of fans by promoting a lifestyle that critics say denigrates women.

($1 = 4.5413 lei)

(Reporting by Luiza Ilie and Alan Charlish; Editing by Jon Boyle and Hugh Lawson)