The Liberals are expected to make a new nomination, the names rumored include Cristian Ghibu, Teodor Atanasiu and Norica Nicolai. Silaghi says he is innocent, pointing out that everything is “one of Traian Basescu’s political maneuvers.”
The National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) has given a strong blow to USL, asking on Monday evening for the start of the prosecution against Liberal Ovidiu Silaghi (nominated for the office of Transportation Ministry, an office vacated by Liberal Relu Fenechiu who resigned this summer because he is investigated in a corruption case – editor’s note) who is accused of bribe-taking. Premier Victor Ponta announced shortly after the news broke that Silaghi withdrew his candidacy for the leadership of the Transportation Ministry. “I talked with Mr. Silaghi, as you know he has withdrawn his candidacy for the office of minister. By the time my term as interim Transportation Minister expires, which will happen according to our calculations on Monday, the 26th, PNL will come up with another proposal and will forward it to the President,” Ponta said, being quoted by Mediafax. According to the Prime Minister, in line with the Constitution President Traian Basescu has to appoint the new Transportation Minister within the 45-day period of his interim: “I am convinced that, political games aside, the President will exercise his prerogatives in a constitutional manner. I don’t want to believe, even though I have a poor opinion of Mr. Basescu, that he will break the Constitution, which says very clearly that he has to make the appointment in 45 days. We won’t play around with seven proposals that we will move back and forth between the Victoria and Cotroceni palaces.”
Present alongside the Premier at the press conference that took place on Monday evening, Finance Minister Daniel Chitoiu (PNL) admitted that the situation created around Silaghi represents “a blow for PNL.”
“The problem is whether Mr. Silaghi will be found guilty. If not, what will happen with his image, with that of PNL?” Chitoiu rhetorically asked. He pointed out that PNL’s Permanent National Bureau (BPN) will meet until Monday and will nominate a different person. Sources from the party said that a BPN meeting on this issue could take place on Sunday.
Cristian Ghibu, secretary of state within the Transportation Ministry, is seen by several Liberals as a potential candidate for this office, his name however being just one of those rumored, alongside that of former Defense Minister Teodor Atanasiu and MEP Norica Nicolai, political sources from within PNL inform. Other names rumored are: Cristian Buican, Lower Chamber secretary and president of PNL Valcea, and Senator Marius Nicoara. The aforementioned sources pointed out that Atanasiu, Nicoara and Buican represent the proposals made by local party branches. PNL MP Ovidiu Silaghi claims he is not guilty of the charges brought against him, pointing out that he never asked for and received unlawful benefits from businessman Nelu Iordache, he did not influence and intervene in any way in the issue concerning the execution or non-execution of payments included in the Arad-Nadlac contract. In a press release he also claims that he is convinced that as time goes by it will be proven he is “completely innocent and this was one of Traian Basescu’s political maneuvers.” Likewise, Silaghi points out that the DNA proceeding concerning the notification of the Lower Chamber in order to obtain the latter’s approval for the start of his prosecution for the crime of intercession “is based on the denunciation of an individual that, in his attempt to save himself, is putting the blame on other persons.” “In this context, I cannot help but note the coincidence of the appearance of this proceeding, as well as me being subpoenaed to the DNA for hearings on August 21, 2013, around the declared day of decision in what concerns my appointment as Transportation Minister by President Traian Basescu. Likewise, I cannot help but note the fact that this proceeding appeared after the ANI attempt to declare me incompatible failed,” the Liberal MP stated. He claims DNA offered Basescu “the perfect reason” in order to refuse appointing him Transportation Minister. “The situation is similar to other similar cases in the past (Atanasiu, Pacuraru and others),” Silaghi claims, pointing out that he withdrew his candidacy for the office of minister in order not to extend the interim situation and to avoid damaging the party’s and government’s image.
Iordache: Silaghi was using jamming equipment
According to the DNA indictment, businessman Nelu Iordache gave a complex statement to anticorruption prosecutors in the Ovidiu Silaghi case, a statement in which he claims that he gave Silaghi EUR 200,000 in order to avoid having his contracts canceled and that the former Transportation Minister was using jamming equipment to secure the talks. “When I arrived at Silaghi Ovidiu’s home I told him the reason why I was there. From what I noticed he knew I was about to come over and he was aware of the cancelation issue (cancelation of the contracts that Romstrade had with CNADNR – editor’s note). Even before starting the talks Silaghi Ovidiu turned his jamming equipment on. After I told him why I was there and also told him I had the money on me, pointing out the total sum, he told me it’s ok and asked me to leave the money on a table,” Iordache said. At the same time, Iordache stated that according to Silaghi the expansion of Blue Air’s operations would have been necessary for his godson, considering that the latter was running for the Satu Mare County Council.
DNA’s request to Prosecutor’s Office – coincidence or not?
PNL President Crin Antonescu pointed out in a press release that he disavows “the public campaign waged in order to politically compromise Ovidiu Silaghi,” pointing out at the same time that the judiciary “has to do its job and to shed light” in what concerns the accusations brought against the PNL Vice President. Antonescu hinted that he does not believe it is a coincidence that DNA’s requests for the Prosecutor’s Office to start prosecuting Silaghi came just days before the deadline on which Basescu should have taken a decision on the USL proposal for the office of Transportation Ministry. Romania’s Attorney General Tiberiu Nitu stated yesterday that the green light that Parliament has to give for the start of the prosecution of a minister or former minister that is also an MP is a simple formality.