CSM approved yesterday the request to have prosecutor Niculae placed in preventive custody. Judiciary sources claim that over 50 persons are investigated in this case, including Finance Ministry employees, lawyers and company administrators accused of defrauding some EUR 50 M.
The prosecutors’ section of the Supreme Council of Magistrates (CSM) approved the house search and the detention and arrest of prosecutor Angela-Eugenia Nicolae – chief of the Office for International Relations and Programmes – other than PHARE, of the High Court of Justice’s Prosecutor’s Office, Agerpres informs. The National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) informed that it requested from the CSM the approval to conduct a house search in the case of the prosecutor holding a management position at the Prosecutors’ Office, in the file concerning the criminal activity of more than 100 Romanian and foreign companies suspected of causing to the Romanian state damages worth EUR 50 M. The prosecutor was charged with intercession in a continuous form for helping some representatives of a number of companies under investigation to commit tax evasion.
According to her statement of assets, quoted by Mediafax, Angela Nicolae owns two plots of land, a holiday home in Giurgiu County and two apartments. Nicolae has to pay three credits opened in 2009 and 2012, worth a total of RON 20,000 and EUR 15,000 respectively. During the prior fiscal year Angela Nicolae had incomes of RON 139,923 as a head-of-office prosecutor.
Judiciary sources claim that PSD Senator Niculae Badalau is investigated in the same case, being suspected of being part of the tax evasion groups’ protection screen. Moreover, the same sources state that employees of the Financial Guard are also in the investigators’ crosshairs in the case that consist of tax evasion in the food industry. DNA announced that the PSD Senator is charged with intercession, being accused of defending the interests of a company suspected of tax evasion by intervening at the leadership of ANAF, the Giurgiu Prefecture and APIA (Association for Payments and Interventions in Agriculture).
After the press published this information, Niculae Badalau showed up at the DNA headquarters in order to be informed of the charges brought against him. On his way in, the PSD Senator stated he is innocent, pointing out that he has many acquaintances and friends among Romanian and foreign businessmen, being involved in politics for the past 23 years. He pointed out he will resign if a request to have his parliamentary immunity canceled is made. In a phone call to Antena 3, the Senator stated that he does not know prosecutor Angela Nicolae, who is also investigated in this case. Badalau also stated that he does not have legal problems and the suspicion concerning his statement of assets, a suspicion for which he was investigated by the National Integrity Agency (ANI), has been resolved.
Badalau is a PSD Senator, the president of PSD Giurgiu and member of the Senate’s Human Rights and Minorities Commission. During his former term as an MP he was member of the commission tasked with investigating abuses and combating corruption.
‘Evenimentul Zilei’ wrote yesterday that in 1988 Niculae Badalau was sentenced to one year in jail after he allegedly stole four bags of wheat. He was pardoned by Nicolae Ceausescu, a decision that erased his criminal record and allowed him to be a prefect, Lower Chamber MP and now a Senator, the aforementioned source informs.
Kovesi: Holders of important offices involved in tax evasion case
Before the CSM issued its green light for the detention and arrest of prosecutor Angela Nicolae, the DNA Chief-Prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi stated there were also other persons holding important offices who were involved in the same file, ‘but we will only be able to give more details after the completion of procedures’. ‘We are currently investigating the crimes of creating an organised crime group, corruption and tax evasion. Among the persons under investigation there are company managers, lawyers, employees of the Ministry of Public Finance, as well as other persons. We will bring 80 people to the hearings and we are going to press charges against 50 of them. The damage is estimated to reach some EUR 50 million. We already took preliminary measures to try to recover the damage. Part of the goods will be probably identified today (yesterday) during the searches’, said Kovesi while leaving the CSM headquarters.
DNA announced yesterday morning in a press release that anticorruption prosecutors have conducted 160 house searches in Bucharest and the Prahova, Giurgiu, Arad, Calarasi and Ialomita counties, as part of a tax evasion case, charges being filed against 50 persons, including Finance Ministry employees, lawyers and company administrators. According to the DNA communiqué, the searches were conducted at the headquarters of companies and at homes in Bucharest and the five aforementioned counties, as part of a complex criminal case concerning corruption and tax evasion, a case in which a large number of persons that formed an organized crime group are involved.
The DNA prosecutors claim that the members of the tax evasion group had well-outlined responsibilities: some were dealing with the setting up of ghost companies, others were recruiting foreigners and Romanians that, in exchange for sums of money, became these companies’ associates or administrators, while others were getting in touch with ANAF (National Agency for Fiscal Administration) employees in order for them not to conduct audits. The suspects were using the ghost companies which they were controlling in order to conduct commercial operations, introducing fictitious expenditures in their books. The crime network was seeking to establish a monopoly over the production and selling of meat products, through a wide-ranging tax evasion mechanism, the prosecutors claim.
Prosecutor General Tiberiu Nitu stated yesterday that it is not a pleasant situation for a prosecutor from the High Court of Justice’s Prosecutor’s Office to be involved in a corruption case. “The General Prosecutor’s Office’s image may not be affected at all if it is established that the prosecutor, albeit holding a management position, did not act in connection with work-related interests, but acted on his own behalf and for his personal interest,” Nitu stated, being quoted by Mediafax. The Romanian Attorney General pointed out that the investigations will establish to what extent prosecutor Angela Nicolae “acted in connection with her work responsibilities or not.”