Ex-premier Victor Ponta’s situation in view of a future candidacy in the parliamentary elections will be discussed at the meeting of the Social Democratic Party’s (PSD) National Executive Committee (CExN), on September 15-16, PSD President Liviu Dragnea announced on Wednesday.
Victor Ponta, who was the Social Democrat Prime Minister until November 2015, was placed under court supervision for 60 days on Tuesday in a new case in which he is investigated for complicity to money laundering and the use of influence or authority in order to obtain undue money, assets or other benefits for self or for others.
The new investigation starts off from a visit that former British Premier Tony Blair paid to Romania. Prosecutors claim that Ponta used an NGO to organise the visit and to hide the fact that the visit was his idea in order to gain electoral capital.
“In what concerns the Integrity Code provision, we will discuss it within the CExN because Victor Ponta is a special case, considering he was Premier and he made the country develop better than it did during other post-1989 periods. My point of view is that Victor Ponta has to be on PSD’s lists for Parliament. The Executive Committee will decide, I’m not a dictator,” the PSD President added.
“Today we decided to convene the National Executive Committee on September 15-16, we will let you know the location of the meeting in the following days. (…) [Victor Ponta] will be one of the topics. It’s something [to be decided] at CExN level. Apart from the public invitation I hereby extend to him, he will also receive a personal invitation, naturally,” Dragnea stated at the end of PSD’s National Standing Bureau meeting.
He reiterated that his “firm support” for Victor Ponta has not changed.
Referring to the new legal case that prosecutors have started against the former Social Democrat Premier, the PSD President stated that “Victor Ponta couldn’t have included Sebastian Ghita on the lists” and that “maybe” the information that reached investigators “is erroneous.”
The PSD President reiterated that the decision to include or not to include someone on the party’s lists of candidates for the 2012 parliamentary elections did not belong to Victor Ponta personally, being reached at the end of a whole procedure that can be proven with paperwork.
“Victor Ponta couldn’t have personally included Sebastian Ghita on the lists. We had some procedures in force at that time, we had the letters sent to territorial branches, in all counties. Through those procedures, adopted by the party’s leadership, we established that the list of candidates will be approved, by voting, within the executive committees at the level of each county. The lists came from all counties, including Prahova; they were approved within the CExN, subsequently they were signed by all four presidents incumbent at the time: Ponta (PSD), Antonescu (PNL), Oprea (UNPR) and Daniel Constantin (PC),” Dragnea explained.
He pointed out he is willing to put relevant documents at the prosecutors’ disposal. “We are waiting; if someone is asking for these documents from us we would immediately and with all openness make them available and we actually want to cooperate if there is the need for any other details too. We consider that all information that reached them is erroneous, the actual situation is entirely different,” he added.
The PSD leader also said he met Victor Ponta and that such meetings will also take place “today or tomorrow.” “Let us start to collaborate as everyone is expecting us to do and as is natural.”
According to PSD’s Integrity Code, the party cannot politically endorse bids for political or administrative offices – elective or not – coming from persons “who are remanded under pre-trial arrest, house arrest or conditional bail for any kind of felony.”
Voices have already started to make themselves heard within PSD claiming that Victor Ponta can benefit from an “exemption” from the Integrity Code. “It’s an integrity code drafted by PSD and exemptions can be adopted in order for Victor Ponta to be able to run in the parliamentary elections. Especially since people who inconvenience are now being arrested and charged,” said Craiova Mayor Lia Olguta Vasilescu, herself indicted by the DNA in a corruption case.
Asked whether PSD ever had a contract with Tony Blair’s foundation, PSD’s leader said that it did not as far as he knows.
Ex-premier Victor Ponta gets police visit after being placed under court supervision
Police officers from Bucharest Police’s Precinct no.6 paid a visit to the home of ex-premier Victor Ponta, who has been placed under court supervision in a case in which the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) is investigating him for complicity to money laundering and the use of influence or authority in order to obtain undue money, assets or other benefits for self or for others.
Bucharest Police Judicial Supervision officers went to Victor Ponta’s home on Tuesday evening in order to verify the details of the judicial control, but also to set the dates on which the PSD Lower Chamber MP will have to show up at the police precinct.
Police officers verified whether Victor Ponta lives at the address listed on his ID card and established the measures of the judicial control, considering that Ponta will have to regularly show up at Precinct 6.
While he is under court supervision, Victor Ponta has to respect the following conditions:
- To show up at the offices of the National Anticorruption Directorate in Ploiesti or in court every time he is summoned;
- To immediately inform judicial bodies of any change of residence;
- To show up at the Bucharest Police General Directorate’s Judicial Supervision Office, in line with the schedule set by police authorities or every time he is summoned;
- To avoid contacting, directly or indirectly, the persons mentioned by the conditional bail ordinance;
- To refrain from making public statements about the case or publicly express opinions about the prosecutors handling the case, the other persons under investigation or the witnesses heard in the case;
- Not to own, use or carry weapons;
Ponta’s wife’s message: Be strong
Following the latest developments concerning the new legal case that anticorruption prosecutors have started against Victor Ponta, MEP Daciana Sarbu, Victor Ponta’s wife, reacted by posting a message on her Facebook page. “I believe you have to be strong when everything is going badly… I believe tomorrow is a new day in which miracles can happen,” Victor Ponta’s wife wrote on Facebook on Tuesday evening, after their home was visited by police officers who verified the judicial control measures.
Tony Blair, official reaction after visit to Romania was mentioned in Victor Ponta’s new legal case
Tony Blair’s staff responded to a Romania TV inquiry regarding his presence in Romania in 2012, after the said visit was mentioned in a legal case handled by the National Anticorruption Directorate, a case concerning alleged illegalities committed by PSD MPs Victor Ponta and Sebastian Ghita.
“Mr. Tony Blair was invited to Romania to give a speech on the future of Europe, at the invitation of the Multimedia Foundation for Local Democracy. The fee paid by the foundation was fully donated to Tony Blair’s charity organisations,” announced the spokesperson of former British Premier Tony Blair.
Corruption prosecutors place deputy Sebastian Ghita under court supervision in the file involving former PM Ponta
Prosecutors with the Ploiesti National Anti-Corruption Directorate (DNA) on Tuesday placed deputy Sebastian Ghita under 60-day court supervision, in a case in which he is accused of accessory to committing money laundering.
According to a DNA release, the former Prime Minister, Victor Ponta is prosecuted in the same file, being accused for the use of influence or authority for ill-gotten gains for self or others and for being an accomplice to money laundering.
The prosecutors say that Ponta, in his capacity of president of a political party (PSD, Social Democrat Party), used his authority to get confirmation of a businessman running for a seat in Parliament in a constituency that would guarantee successful running.
“In order to designate a businessman a candidate on the tickets of a political party in a constituency where the political party was sure to win, Ponta Victor Viorel, in his capacity as national leader of the party in question, used his authority to win confirmation of the recommendation for that businessman to get on the tickets,” says DNA.
The confirmation was sought by Ponta in order to get ill-gotten gains, namely 220,000 euros needed to prepare a visit to Romania by a foreign personality.
“What was being sought was that by touting a meeting with the internationally acclaimed personality, Ponta Victor Viorel would gain electoral capital in the context of 2012 and the electoral schedule, as local and parliamentary elections were to be held. The 220,000 euros were obtained through intermediaries from the businessman placed on an eligible position on the tickets,” says DNA.
The misdeed was allegedly conducted via a non-profit, non-political organisation to create the impression that the visit of the former foreign leader was not a party initiative, so that the public opinion might think that the meeting of the foreign dignitary with Ponta happened at the former’s initiative.
“To this end, Ponta Victor Viorel and the businessman asked the leader of the non-profit organisation to find a way for the foreign politician to be invited to Romania without the public knowing that the initiative originated with Ponta Victor Viorel, and for the related payment to be covered by the businessman via intermediaries. In order to conceal the dubious provenance of the amount of 220,000 euros, defendant Ponta Victor Viorel, conniving with the businessman, accepted to successively conclude two agreements,” the prosecutors argue.
They allege that upon receipt of the 220,000-euro amount, the businessman was confirmed by Ponta, the party leader, a candidate of his party in a constituency of Prahova County.
The businessman successfully ran for a seat in Romania’s Chamber of Deputies. The DNA notes that after elections, Ghita became a member of the Romanian Parliament.
During the 60-day court supervision, Sebastian Ghita, as well as Victor Ponta are forbidden to leave the country without the approval of the supervising prosecutor/judge, to get near to or communicate with certain persons as well as to make statements to the media about the object of the case or comment on the prosecutors building the case, other people involved in the case or the witnesses heard in the case.