Ecaterina Andronescu, heard by DNA in the case of the “Cutezatorii” sports facility: I never talked with Pescariu

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Former Education Minister Ecaterina Andronescu came on Wednesday morning at the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA), where she was heard as a witness in the case related to the illegal change of the function of the Cutezatorii sports facility. Mihnea Costoiu and Dinu Pescariu are also investigated in this case, the damage being estimated to EUR 93,481,200.

“It’s the first step of the investigation in this case, I think we should let the specialists in this field to do their job. I never talked with Dinu Pescariu. My signature doesn’t appear on any document, the only one that is mentioned is my name.” Ecaterina Andronescu stated when exiting DNA.

“I was called as a witness in the Cutezătorii sports facility” said Ecaterina Andronescu when she arrived to DNA. Asked if she knew about the document signed by Mircea Costoiu, Andronescu answered that she found out about this from the press. Ecaterina Andronescu was the Education Minister when the deeds were allegedly committed.

Mihnea Costoiu, who was a Secretary of State in the Ministry of Education at the time of the deeds, is accused of abuse of office, while business Dinu Pescariu is investigated for incitement to abuse of office.

“The case is related to the modality of concluding the Addendum no.16832/23.06.2009, a document extending by 25 years the tenancy (lease) agreement no.269/30.04.2004 according to which the Sports and Recreation Facility for Children ‘Cutezatorii’ in Bucharest (formed by constructions and land in area of 5.7 hectares) was given to the use of the ‘Dinu Pescariu’ Foundation”, according to a press release issued by DNA when the accusation was made.

Prosecutors claim that the document was signed in 2009 by the Ministry of Education represented by Mihnea Costoiu, who was a Secretary of State at that time, and by the Dinu Pescariu Foundation, represented by the businessman. Prosecutors say that the document has been concluded “without observing the legal provisions and without having any approval of the Legal Department of the Ministry of Education”.

According to the quoted source, the addendum was concluded in the circumstances in which the initial agreement (concluded in 2004 by RA APPS with the “Dinu Pescariu” Foundation) was in the process of being terminated, and a lawsuit was filed by the Ministry of Education, which became the administrator of the Cutezătorii Sports Facility.

In the circumstances in which the Ministry of National Education filed the lawsuit against Dinu Pescariu Foundation in order to terminate the agreement, a trial being pending at that time, the same ministry, through the Secretary of State Costoiu Mihnea Cosmin, concluded later an addendum to the agreement which was subject to the lawsuit. The situation caused by signing the addendum was meant to stop the trial in which the Ministry of Education requested the termination of the tenancy agreement”, the prosecutors explain.

More precisely, DNA claims that Mihnea Costoiu, “being aware of the legal status of the ‘Cutezătorii Sports Facility, and being incited by the defendant Pescariu Dinu Mihail and breaching the law, concluded with the Dinu Pescariu Foundation the above mentioned addendum to the initial tenancy (lease) agreement, which was in the process of being terminated”; by this document it was established that “in addition to the rent of EUR 9,000/month (plus VAT), facilities in amount of EUR 400,000/year were going to be granted for free to the “Dinu Pescariu” Foundation, consisting of:

– tennis training – approx. EUR 120,000 / year (200 subscriptions of EUR 50 / month for 12 months),

– subscriptions to the Sports Club – approx. EUR 100,000 / year (75 subscriptions of UR 1,350 / year),

– football field – approx. EUR 30,000 / year,

– facilities for students – EUR 150,000 / year”.

Prosecutors say that after taking over the sports facility, the Dinu Pescariu Foundation restricted the access of the students in it, “thus preventing them from performing scientific, cultural, sports and artistic activities”.

“The ‘Dinu Pescariu’ Foundation changed the function of the ‘Cutezatorii’ Sports Facility (namely to host scientific, cultural, sports and artistic activities performed by children), using it in commercial purposes, including through the partial sub-leasing to companies whose object of activity is public food, entertainment or maintenance and recreation treatments (restaurants, clubs, bars, fitness, SPAs), on the land that is the public property of the state”, according to DNA.

Thus, the damage estimated by the prosecutors, since 2009 until today, is approx. EUR 93,481,200, consisting of the difference between the amounts that Dinu Pescariu Foundation should have paid to the Ministry of Education as a result of using the buildings and the land in the Cutezatorii Sports Facility, and the actually paid rent, namely EUR 9,000 per month.

In reply, Pescariu claims that the sports facility “never was for students”, but “for certain slick guys in the ministry”.