Three years and three months in prison for bribery and influence peddling, the High Court of Cassation and Justice (ICCJ, Romania’s Supreme Court) ruled on Tuesday for Adrian Severin, a former member of the European Parliament. The sentence, however, is not final; the defendant can appeal.
Severin was indicted in September 2013. The prosecution asserted – and the court agreed – that the MEP had accepted between December 2010 and March 2010 the promise of two journalists of UK’s The Sunday Times to pay him 100,000 euros per year, in exchange of amendments in the speciality committees of the European Parliament and of votes against other amendments. The two were investigating under cover on behalf of a company. They added 4,000 per day for any acts produced by Severin in the EP.
During their negotiations early in 2011, Severin asked 12,000 euros for exerting his alleged influence on two members of the Legal Affairs Committee, on a rapporteur of the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee, and on another MEP, to obtain an amendment to a European Commission directive on bank deposit guarantees, in the interest of the clients of the company purportedly supported by the journalists. Severin even issued an invoice for 12,000 euros and emailed it to one of them. He eventually submitted the amendment through a colleague and told the journalists that he had a hard time convincing him.
The Sunday Times also exposed two other MEPs – Slovenian Zoran Thaler and Austrian Ernst Strasser – for accepting to sell their good offices. Thaler and Strasser resigned from the European Parliament, thus waiving their immunity. Severin refused to quit and claimed everything was “a setup devised by persons acting as agents provocateurs on a political motivation.”