#F1 Forensics: Constantin Cojocar – the man that everyone wants to be

Brought to you by TheJudge13 contributor landroni

Editors Note: One of our readers alerted us to an interview a Romanian publication did with the man who is now listed as a director for Caterham Sports Ltd, Constantin Cojocar. Below follows a translation of the interview they did with him.

Prosport

We found Cojocar, the cleaner who overnight became a director in F1

The English press insists that the Romanian came to the factory of the F1 team to do the cleaning and that in a month he became director. The story has the looks of a thriller and only one man can clarify the mystery. Constantin Cojocar himself.

The work of a journalist knows no downtime. Since we’re presumably dealing with a director from F1, we make the call at 6 o’clock [AM], UK time. The number is Romanian, from the Orange
network, but the tone is unmistakably British. Waiting for the reply, the questions hurtle [in my head] with the speeds of F1 cars.

If the former footballer is dead, and his identity is used in a war with a huge stake: hundreds of millions of euros and a place in F1?

Before the answer, some background information.

In June, the Caterham F1 team was sold by the consortium lead by the Malaysian businessman Tony Fernandes, the boss of the English [football] club QPR and of the Air Asia airline company, to a
Swiss firm with “unknown” shareholders, as was reported by the English journal Racing Engineering, which is however coordinated by Colin Kolles, ex-manager in F1 at Jordan, Midland Spyker and
Force India.

Another surprise appears on the CV of Colin Kolles. His name is, in fact, Călin Colesnic, and he is a 46-year old Romanian born in Timișoara and who left for Germany in the ’80s, where he became a
dental doctor.

Since June, the Kolles group accuses the Fernandes group of not having transferred the shares of the F1 team. The answer by Fernandes was that the Kolles group “should pay first”.

The dispute, which threatens to lead Caterham to miss the last races in the F1 this season, in the USA (Nov 2nd), Brazil (Nov 9th) and Abu Dhabi (Nov 23rd), reached the courts, but in the meantime one of the firms bought on paper by the Kolles group has entered administration. The team in question is Caterham Sports, a company which on Sept 23rd has appointed Constantin Cojocar as a director, the “ex-cleaner” at the factory in Leafield.

On Thursday, in an exchange of public exchanges that took place in a short period of time, the Fernandes group and the Kolles group have both vehemently denied that they would be behind
Constantin Cojocar.

In the meantime, the phone rings, and after 30 seconds a voice answers “Yes” in a strong manner.

Hello, Mr Cojocar?

Constantin Cojocar: “Yes, please.”

We are from ProSport.

CC: “Yes, good morning.”

What are you doing, Mr Cojocar? We call you because you are an
important character in the British press. There are articles on
you in the Financial Times, The Times… Did you know that?

CC: “(Surprised) I didn’t know, no. What are they writing?

That you are the main character in a scandal in F1…

CC: “(Takes a director’s tone) Yes, at Caterham F1.

Are you working for them? Are you a director there?

CC: “Administrative director at Caterham, in F1.

From September, correct?

CC: “(Becomes monosyllabic) Yes.

TJ13 comment: The beginning of the exchange presents us with a clueless Cojocar in uncomfortable clothes, attempting to rise to the occasion. He doesn’t even pick up on “scandal”…

We call you since we talked with your former colleagues from back
home and many don’t know anything about you for about 25 years.
Iovan [Ștefan Iovan, a former football player, winner of European
Cup with Steaua București in 1986, when he also was the team’s
captain] told us that he believed that you were dead.

CC: “Me, dead? Ah, no. (Starts laughing)

And Vaișcovici [possibly Claudiu Vaișcovici] heard the same
thing…

CC:

Did you leave Romania a long time ago?

CC: “No. I arrived here on August 1st.

The last reference that we found on you is that you played for
Brașov [FC] in 1991.

CC:Yes.

Vaișcovici said that afterwards you were also [playing] at Dinamo
[Bucharest], but there were no statistics related to you.

CC: I’ve been at Dinamo, too. Afterwards this guy came and fired
us. Then I’ve been in Cluj, and in Hungary.

Who fired you, [Florin] Halagian [a former Romanian football
player and manager of Armenian descent]?

CC: “Yes, Halagian.

And then?

CC: “(He comes back all of a sudden, curious, [to] the start of
the discussion) So all newspapers in the UK really write about
me?

Yes, I’ll tell you [about this] immediately. Tell us more about
yourself. What did you do in the last 25 years?

CC: “What could I do? No one helped me. I tried to find a
[football team] coach position. No one helps old [retired]
players. Absolutely. I was looking for coach position, couldn’t
find one, it was tough. Afterwards, lately I was chief of the
Brașov bus station, during the last 15 years.

You moved to Brașov even if you’re from Hunedoara?

CC: “Yes, I live in Brașov.

After the ’90s you didn’t work at all in football…

CC: “No. After I left Steaua, I went to both Vadim Tudor [possibly
one Corneliu Vadim Tudor, a Romanian politician] and Gigi Becali
[mostly known for his ownership of the Steaua București football
club, but also former Member of the European Parliament and a
Member of the Romanian Parliament up until his penal conviction
in May 2013].”

At Steaua you stayed for only 6 months.

CC: “At Steaua? No, I stayed almost 2 years at Steaua. 1987…
Actually no, [just] 1 year.

Why did you leave from Steaua?

CC: “(Ironically) I was with [Victor] Pițurcă [former football
player and head Coach of the Ittihad FC] on the same position and
I was mostly a reserve, that’s why.

You said that you went to Gigi Becali. Why?

CC: “After I was done with football, I still tried. I talked to
Vadim [Tudor], and he put me in contact with Mircea Sandu [a
retired Romanian footballer who is currently a member of the UEFA
Executive Committee] to find me a job. “Look, help him as he has
no job, he doesn’t have anything!” Mircea Sandu avoided me, and
didn’t help me with anything. The only one who tried to help me
was Becali, but that one [tried to help me] more with money. I
went to him, as we say. “Hey, uncle Gigi, I’m dying of hunger!
Give me coach position [in the club]!”

And?

CC: “He more easily popped up a 1000$, gave it to me and told me to
come back next week. Afterwards I stopped going there, of shame,
you understand.”

When this? In the ’90s?

CC: “Yes, about 1994-1995.

After which you broke all contact?

CC:Yes, I saw that they didn’t help me. I also talked to former
colleagues, [for example] with Gică Popescu [a retired Romanian
football defender, former captain of FC Barcelona and key part of
the Romania national team in the 1990s] I stayed in the same room
at Steaua. I tried to talk to him. “Don’t worry, I’ll help you.
Don’t worry!” He didn’t help me with anything. I wanted to find a
position as coach, I didn’t want give-aways. If you don’t have a
backup [connections], no one will help you. […] (Sighing) But
that’s how things are.

The British press writes that you were the one who put Caterham
Sports under administration and that until now you were a cleaner
at the Caterham factory.

CC: “Yes. I came here for work, for cleaning and security.

CC: “It was worthless to go the university. During the time of
[Mircea] Lucescu [a Romanian former footballer and present
manager], I was at [FC] Corvinul [Hunedoara], and he liked that
all of us also studied at the University.

He discovered you…

CC: “Yes, he made me a footballer. He took me since I was very
young.

Did you talk to him?

CC: “Never talked to him, could never get a hold of him. Probably
would have helped. So… I left because of the [financial]
difficulties I had back home. I have a mortgage and the job at
the bus station was badly paid, 10 million [(Old) Romanian Lei,
ROL] a month. I was financially strapped. This is why I left. I
came here to clean.

How did you get at the Leafield factory, at Caterham? After an ad
posted on the website?

CC: “Yes, yes.

TJ13 comment: “The gist of it is that the Romanian Cojocar: (1) is an unproven football player who got largely overlooked on the field in Romania’s strongest FC at the time, (2) is a still-born football coach, (3) was largely overlooked by his former colleagues and business contacts, some being certain that we has
dead (pre-Caterham debacle), (4) is financially strapped and has a mortgage, (5) has 15 years worth of professional experience as chief of a bus depot in Romania, (6) has arrived in the UK less than 6 months ago with the ambition of finding a position in cleaning or security. Which obviously points to the fact that
Cojocar is utterly unqualified to run an F1 entity, and that by himself he is in absolutely no financial position to become a shareholder of said F1 entity.

Someone called you?

CC:Yes.

CC: “What can I say?! Here there was an Italian who recognized me
as a footballer (Editor’s note: The Italian director of F1
Caterham is an Italian, Manfredi Ravetto). He is kind of like a
boss here. He said: “You can’t possibly be cleaning! Starting
today you are a director!” I was named director.

So easy?

CC: “(Becomes once more monosyllabic) Yes.

Are you ready for this job? It’s still an insolvent firm [under
administration].

CC:(Laconically) Yes. I learned. Enough.

Indeed so?

CC: “Yup.

Englishmen are very surprised by this promotion. They feel like
not all is clean in this story.

CC: ….

Who appointed you? No one knows. Was it Fernandes [group] or
Kolles [group]?

CC: “By those who bought [Caterham]. By Kolles. Yes.

He proposed you take this and take care of the administration
[process]?

CC: “Yes, yes.

Are there chances to turn the firm around and out of
administration?

CC: “Listen, I can’t really discuss these things.

TJ13 comment: The vetting and recruiting process of Cojocar is positively ridiculous. And Manfredi “I know nothing” Ravetto is “kind of like a boss here”, is certainly not the clueless employee
that he is trying to portray himself as in the media.

It is also clear that Kolles together with Ravetto appointed Cojocar as director, replacing Kolles’ father, and it stands to reason that his sudden elevation to share-owner was orchestrated by the same duo. For someone who pains to pay a mortgage, historically fails to receive any assistance from his business contacts and even half a year ago was targeting a professional future in cleaning,
being in a position to buy an F1 entity is beyond imaginable.

OK, tell us more about yourself. Do you still have any friends
[at home, in Romania]?

CC: “Yes, I talked with [Helmuth] Duckadam [a Romanian retired
footballer who played as a goalkeeper]. With [Ștefan] Iovan. I
also talked with [Adrian] Bumbescu [a retired Romanian footballer
who played as a central defender] all the time since Steaua was
coming to Brașov for training with the youngsters and he needed
buses. He was calling me all the time.

[Adrian] Bumbescu told us that he didn’t know anything about
you…

CC: “Hah! Even last year Bumbescu hired a bus from me.

How are you doing in England?

CC: “It’s an insane [twisted] country. Everything is twisted. Even
the roads. Everything. Everything is upside down. I don’t like
England at all.

What is your salary? Can you tell us? On the website you were
asking for 1000, but you don’t mention what currency…

CC: “(Becomes suspicious) Where did you get my CV?

On the website where you posted it.

CC: “Oh, I see. That was in the beginning, as a “cleaner”. How do
you say it [in Romanian]?!

“Îngrijitor”. And now how much do you make as a director?

CC:I can’t tell you that, no.

What are you doing [now], do stay on as a director? I understand
that you no longer have any employees on the payroll in the
firm… The press reports that all employees were transferred to
1MRT…

CC: “Yes, I… yes.. they… Yes, there are pretty big issues. I
have to stay now as I don’t have what [else] to do. [Or maybe “I
have no other choice”.] I entered the game, so I have to [stay
and] play. For the moment I’m in Germany, in the mother [main]
company who bought Caterham and I think on Monday I leave for the
UK.

TJ13 comment: Cojocar clearly doesn’t feel at home in the UK. But more importantly, Cojocar has several unwitting slips of tongue. He refers to Kolles’ German base as the “main company who bought Caterham”.

He also affirms being in Germany at Kolles’ base at the time of the interview, likely getting instructions from Kolles himself. He also refers to Kolles as the “one who bought” Caterham. It is interesting to note that the Romanian publication Prosport doesn’t even pain to delve into the Swiss-Arab mysteries; they put it plain and simple that “one of the firms
bought on paper by the Kolles group has entered administration”.

How much more obvious does it have to get that there are no Swiss-Arab investors, and that the Caterham sale and subsequent stripping of assets as relentlessly reported by TJ13 was merely a scam perpetrated by Kolles? Including the elevation of a cleaner to director and shareholder status…

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21 responses to “#F1 Forensics: Constantin Cojocar – the man that everyone wants to be

  1. Hey thanks for posting this. I kept meaning to read the original interview but didn’t feel like doing the machine-translation.

    This was so much simpler.

    Good for Cojocar, though. I don’t think he deserves mocking or scorn. Guy has struggled to make a place in the world for himself since being an athlete, and it’s totally understandable that in such straits he would agree to participate in something crazy like this. It’s not like he’s got anything to lose in comparison to a more financially stable and professionally successful type.

    Don’t scorn janitors…someone has to do that work, and it’s shit work. People have to do whatever they can to survive – for some that means being a sociopathic vulture capitalist – for others it means doing shit work cleaning a warehouse or vacuuming carpets in an office.

    • “Good for Cojocar, though. I don’t think he deserves mocking or scorn. Guy has struggled to make a place in the world for himself since being an athlete, and it’s totally understandable that in such straits he would agree to participate in something crazy like this. ”

      Absolutely agree with this. I wanted to convey it somehow in the comments, but didn’t know where to start from. This interview is a perfect case study in how societies are structured post-USSR, and how economic despair affects and guides people in those countries… Which is VERY different from what you tend to see in Western countries.

      It seems to me that for this guy this was the opportunity of finally making a break after all those years. And a couple of well placed assurances from Kolles to the tune of “It’s all going to be OK, don’t worry!” would have done a world of convincing.

      The other interesting observation on this Caterham affair is that Kolles and his cronies have, it seems, tried to apply the same marginal business dealings as they’re used to doing at home and getting away with it. (At least one poster here on TJ13 indicated that he worked with Ion Bazac Sr, and that he was a crook. “Like father like son”.) However they’re quickly learning to their grief that in a Westernized environment, with more often than not different mentality at all levels including more transparent and less easy to manipulate judicial proceedings, their plan has too many cracks to begin with and may (hopefully!) fall flat on its face. I suspect that they’re approaching the phase: “Maybe we didn’t really think it through…”

    • My initial reaction was to assume the worst of Cojocar. After discussing with Landroni, and reading a few more things about him and the situation, I now feel very sorry for him.
      It is possible his involvement is his own doing, but it seems more and more likely that he is a scapegoat, a true patsy.
      There is more to come from Landroni and the Judge, I have read some of it, and it raises as many questions as it answers, probably more.
      In spite of the repeated denials, it is not hard to connect the dots between FRR and Caterham. The line that links them runs right through Colin Kolles.

      • That’s a typical example of the ‘haves’ taking advantage of the ‘have nots’ who are in desperate need to feed themselves and their families.

        When this is all started I asked the question, “what about the FIA’s part in all this mess, do they not carry out fit and proper test before the sale of the team and the transfer of its racing licenses to any new and prospective owners”

        That’s all that was needed to be done. Hell if a blog site like tj13 in a few weeks can uncover all this shady dealings, then the FIA and its high powered lawyers and investigators should’ve been able to uncover this in less time.

  2. Interesting uh, mess?

    Judge,
    could you do something on the main page so that one doesn’t have to scroll through an entire article to get to the one below? If I want to get to the third post from the top, I’d have to scroll through 2 whole posts. Takes a lot of time and its boring. So perhaps just offer a quickview kind of thing on the mainpage and those who want to read it can get to the post by clicking on the title and make it easier for those who want to get to a post below easily?

  3. Does the article imply janitors cannot rise to become directors or run F1 companies?
    I may say that in jest, but qualified individuals still got Caterham into a mess, what difference can a janitor make.

    • I don’t think the issue isn’t that a janitor rose through the ranks to become director and run an F1 company. The trouble is that Cojocar didn’t “rise through the ranks” (at least not in the space of two months!), but instead was identified as a suitable patsy that could take the fall should the scam go belly up, with Colin “Who, me?” Kolles—the qualified mastermind—covering himself in “adviser” clothes.

  4. and Ecclestone, reportedly, thinks Kolles is a a good ‘competent’ man – if only for the sake of F1, sling Kolles & his cronies in jail and boot Ecclestone out

  5. “Cojocar, the cleaner” I thought this was a euphemism for some business type in charge of cleaning out the business. I not for once considered him to literally be a cleaner/janitor.

    I feel a little bit like Vizzini when Inigo Montoya says, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

  6. Interesting read, this really does look remarkably dodgy. Thanks for doing all this detective work!

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