Final court hearing in case in which Neculai Ontanu is indicted for passive bribery: Prosecutors ask for maximum sentence, court ruling pending

0
40 views

At the final court hearing on Wednesday, prosecutors asked the Bucharest Court of Appeals to rule the maximum sentence – ten years in jail – against former Bucharest District 2 Mayor Neculai Ontanu, in the case in which he is indicted for passive bribery. The court ruling is pending.

“Considering that in his capacity as District 2 Mayor he accepted the promise of benefits from denouncing witness Borcea Cristian, in return for accepting the retrocession of ownership rights over several plots of land, and received a plot of land worth more than 1.4 million euro, you should rule against the defendant, for passive bribery, an executory prison sentence oriented toward the maximum level,” the prosecutor stated. The punishment for the crimes the former mayor is charged with ranges from 3 to 10 years in prison.

Likewise, the prosecutor asked the court to rule a maximum sentence against lawyer Loredana Radu, indicted for two counts of money laundering and complicity to passive bribery.

Prosecutors also demanded executory prison sentences against the other defendants in this case.

The Bucharest Appeals Court’s ruling is pending, but will not be a final ruling, this being a trial on the merits.

On 16 June 2016, DNA prosecutors indicted former Bucharest District 2 Mayor Neculai Ontanu, for passive bribery; former District 2 Local Council Secretary Toma Sutru, for passive bribery and money laundering; lawyers Loredana Radu and Aurel Radu, for complicity to passive bribery and money laundering.

According to the indictment, in his capacity as Bucharest District 2 Mayor, from 2006 to 2007, Neculai Ontanu accepted the promise of material benefits from the holder of litigation rights (the denouncer in the case), in return for facilitating the procedure of retrocession of ownership rights, in line with Law no.18/1991, over several plots of land located in District 2, totalling a surface area of 83,500 square metres.

During the same period, defendant Ontanu Neculai asked for and, after the ownership title was issued, indirectly received a plot of land of 1,500 square metres, with a market value estimated at EUR 1.44 M, located in a residential area on Barbu Vacarescu Street, District 2. At Ontanu’s request, the property was transferred by the denouncer, free of charge, through fictitious sale contracts, to defendants Radu Loredana and Radu Aurel, the investigators claim.

“Based on defendant Ontanu Neculai’s request, on 13 November 2007, signed at a notary public office were two sale contracts which transferred the ownership rights over a 500-square metre surface (market value of EUR 650,995) and a 1,000-square metre surface (market value of EUR 790,500), both part of the plot of land located on Barbu Vacarescu Street, to Radu Aurel and Radu Loredana Claudia respectively,” prosecutors wrote in their indictment.

The contract signed by Aurel Radu featured a price of EUR 500 per square metre, namely the minimum value in line with the real-estate price guidebook of the National Union of Romanian Public Notaries, the overall price of EUR 250,000 being stipulated by the contract. The contract signed by Loredana Radu featured a price ten times lower, namely EUR 50 per square metre, the overall price for the 1,000-square metre plot of land being EUR 50,000.

Three months after the signing of the sale contract, on 6 February 2008, Aurel Radu ceded his ownership right over the 500-square metre plot of land to a good-faith buyer who paid EUR 1.4 million. He then transferred the sum, in cash, to a person whose identity could not established by the time the dossier was sent to court.

Subsequently, on 17 December 2008, in order to hide the origin of the plot of land and the identity of its final beneficiary, Loredana Radu ceded her ownership rights over the 1,000-square metre plot of land to a relative who was also close to Mayor Ontanu Neculai, through a transaction in which the price was approximately 5 times lower than the asset’s market value, the investigators claim.

Neculai Ontanu served four terms as District 2 Mayor. Over the years, his name appeared in several scandals. Most recently early last year, when it was discovered that Ontanu allegedly signed two different permits, which nevertheless had the same date and the same registration number, for the construction of the National Arena.

In April 2016, Ontanu cancelled his candidacy and resigned from all political offices he was holding within the National Union for the Progress of Romania (UNPR).

Lawyer Loredana Radu is the niece of ex-Interior Minister Gabriel Oprea. She defended Victor Ponta, Mircea Cosma and Nicolae Dumitru in court and worked for one of Dorin Cocos’s companies.