The investigation into the “meat mafia” was initiated by SRI at the beginning of 2013 and targets an organised cross-border crime ring specialising in large-scale fraud, SRI spokesman Sorin Sava announced.
Intra-Community trading of spoiled meat products prejudice national security, the inquiry file drafted by the DIICOT garnering the support of the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI), the latter initiating the action to combat the criminal acts since last year, said Sorin Sava, the spokesperson for SRI. ‘This case is initiated by SRI since the beginning of 2013 and is part of a series of efforts of the Service to combat tax evasion that implicitly affects the consolidated budget of the Romanian state. It is evident that it’s a matter of national security in the economic security and cross-border threats domains,’ said Sava, noting that the network is a complex one, having contacts abroad as well.
The Directorate for the Investigation of Organized Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT) prosecutors have issued detainment orders for a 24-hour period for ten persons accused in the tax evasion and commercialization of spoiled meat case, the detained persons will face a court with proposals for preventive custody. Up to now, 37 persons have been questioned at DIICOT’s headquarters but the hearings have not finished yet. Wednesday, DIICOT prosecutors together with judicial police officers searched 102 homes in 18 counties as part of actions seeking to disband two groups of 80 persons, specialized in tax evasion, money laundering, commercializing spoiled products and influence peddling.
On the other hand, DIICOT announced that an inspector from the Cluj Consumer Protection Office (OPC) and a counselor of the National Sanitary Veterinary Authority (ANSV) are probed into the case, the two being suspected of influence peddling and respectively favouring the perpetrator. DIICOT instated measures aimed at recovering the loss.
The spokeswoman of the Regional Commissariat for Consumer Protection (CRPC) Cluj, Ioana Katona said that the institution does not know the name of the inspector probed by DIICOT and, if it receives a formal notification, it will take the legal measures. In his turn, the chief of the County Commissariat for Consumer Protection (CJPC) Cluj, Mircea Varga said that he does not know the person targeted by the investigation. “I do not know who the person is, the initials (…) tell me nothing. We are CJPC Cluj, a structure for the Cluj County of the Regional Commissariat for Consumer Protection, which has under its responsibility several counties from the North-West Region. He probably belongs to another county commissariat,” Varga mentioned, quoted by Mediafax.
Officials with the Sanitary Veterinary and Food Safety Department (DSVSA) Cluj say that, in relation to the case of tax evasion and sale of spoiled meat, prosecutors demanded documents concerning the meat quantities delivered by several companies located in the county. “We made available documents about the existing meat quantities. We cannot provide information about controls, because the actions are still going on,” the chief of DSVSA Cluj, Nicolae Pivar explained. Officials from CJPC Cluj make controls in hypermarkets throughout the county in view of finding batches of meat with problems. According to judiciary sources, investigators also searched a food warehouse in Targoviste belonging to the parents of tennis champion Sorana Carstea, where they seized several documents that will be verified as part of the probe.
ANPC recalls 229 tons of meat, meat products from sale, imposes fines of RON 71,500
The inspectors of the National Authority for Consumer Protection (ANPC) decided to recall 229 tons of meat and meat products from sale and impose fines worth 71,500 lei on the economic operators as part of checks carried out on Wednesday. The move came after receiving information about quantities of spoiled meat past its best-before date located in stores and deposits. The ANPC interim chairman Marius Alexandru Dunca told in a press conference that the product quality checks conducted in Iasi, together with the ANPC inspectors from Bacau, revealed 13.6 tons of chicken wings past the use-by date, i.e. Nov. 2013.
‘We ordered the final withdrawal from sale and a report for their destruction,’ Dunca said. Next to the same warehouse, five trucks carrying 20 tons of mackerel were discovered, not past the use-by date, but showing unsuitable characteristics regarding product conformity and with no specific documentation. The goods have been temporarily withdrawn from sale. ‘We also discovered 300 kg pork brain with no identification elements and showing modified organoleptic signs,’ the ANPC interim president said. Thirteen economic agents in Bucharest were also checked, being imposed 13 fines totaling 57,000 lei for non-compliance with storage requirements and identification elements not translated or partly translated. The inspectors found in other localities meat and meat products past the best-before date and showing non-compliant characteristics, produced in Romania and abroad.
The DIICOT prosecutors conducted home searches in 18 counties, as part of actions aimed at dismantling two groups consisting of 80 people, specialized in tax evasion crimes, money laundering, selling spoiled products and influence peddling. The preliminary damage is put at over 15 million euros. According to a press release of DIICOT, the members of the crime rings purchased, via commercial companies in Romania, mainly meat and eggs from EU countries: the Netherlands, Poland, Great Britain, Germany, without paying the VAT- according to the law (a real operation listed in accounting documents), with the goods being subsequently sold to end-users by adding the VAT.