Internet personality Tate's assets to remain with Romanian police

FILE PHOTO: Andrew Tate delivers a press statement outside his house

BUCHAREST (Reuters) -Assets belonging to U.S.-British internet personality Andrew Tate that were seized by Romanian authorities in the run-up to a human-trafficking trial will remain in the possession of law enforcement, his representative said on Friday following a court ruling.

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.

They deny all the allegations. It is not yet clear when their trial will begin.

Since the indictment, the case has been with the Bucharest court's preliminary chamber, which needs to inspect the files to ensure their legality. The procedure was expected to take around two months, but Romanian courts are backlogged.

Earlier this month, a Romanian court approved a request from Britain to extradite the Tate brothers on allegations of sexual aggression dating back to 2012-15, but only after the completion of Romanian trial proceedings.

In January 2023, Romanian authorities seized goods and money worth 18 million lei ($3.9 million) as part of the criminal investigation into the Tate brothers, including cash, designer watches and luxury cars.

They also seized some properties and cryptocurrency. The Tates have repeatedly asked the courts to lift the seizure.

In January, the Bucharest Court of Appeals accepted their request and ordered that the seizure be reanalysed. On Friday, the Bucharest court decided that the seized assets should remain in the possession of Romanian law enforcement, according to Andrew Tate's representative.

Tate will appeal the decision, his representative said.

The Tate brothers, who have dual U.S. and British citizenship, were held in police custody during the criminal investigation from late December 2022 until April 2023, to prevent them from fleeing the country or tampering with evidence.

They were then under house arrest until August, when courts placed them under judicial control, a lighter preventative measure that enables them to move around freely but not leave the country.

Andrew Tate, a 37-year-old former kickboxer and self-described misogynist, became one of the most prominent personalities online with shows, appearances and statements that critics say regularly denigrate women. He says he sets a positive example for young men.

($1 = 4.5950 lei)

(Reporting by Luiza Ilie in Bucharest and Alan Charlish in WarsawEditing by Andrew Heavens, Angus MacSwan and Matthew Lewis)