The Clan of “The Great White”

The Orthodox Church is one of Romania’s most powerful and influential organisations. Contrary to what one would expect from an institution with its spiritual mission, it has built up a financial empire whose workings are largely unknown to mere mortals and state watchdogs.

Yet much of the Church’s money comes from public sources. RON 1.3 billion was allocated to churches in Bucharest alone by the government and the city council over the past 13 years since Patriarch Daniel took office.

After the Church repeatedly refused to answer our questions about what it did with public money, we decided to go undercover into the system under an assumed identity.

During eight months of research, we discovered a secret network in which businessmen, politicians and senior clergymen collude in an extremely lucrative business: the construction and renovation of churches funded by public money. The entire network operates with the blessing of the most powerful figure in the Romanian Orthodox Church, who is nicknamed “The Great White” by his acolytes.

The English version of this article and the English subtitles of the video are available thanks to Peter Shortall.

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