The Liberal Minister claims that his case is not about corruption and prosecutors should not express opinions on economic decisions.
Economy Minister Varujan Vosganian (PNL) and Adriean Videanu (PDL) , former Economy Minister during the Boc Government, reject the accusations brought by the Directorate for the Investigation of Organized Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT) in the case in which they are investigated for allegedly supporting businessman Ioan Niculae and using Romgaz to serve Interagro’s interests.
Thus, Vosganian stated on Monday evening during a press conference organized at the USL headquarters that his case is not about corruption and prosecutors should not express opinions about the advisability of economic decisions. He underscored that a minister does not have to ask for the Prosecutor’s Office’s permission before adopting an economic measure. He claims that 2008 was a very good year for Romgaz from the point of view of the company’s profit, a profit which grew by 6 per cent year-on-year. “The measure the Prosecutor’s Office’s talks about is the offering of an economic discount of several percentages and the maintenance of conditions concerning the mandatory character of paying the debts owed by companies that benefit from the discount. I didn’t invent this discount, it was in force on the date I became Minister of Economy and Finance, such discounts are handed out in the whole of Europe for interruptible companies.” Moreover, according to Vosganian, the same case handled by DIICOT should have included both President Traian Basescu and former Premier Emil Boc, but also the heads of the intelligence services, in order for them to offer explanations. At the same time he pointed out that the measure promoted in 2008 at government level was extended through a note received from Agriculture Minister Dacian Ciolos, the Boc Government extending the measure by issuing an emergency ordinance in this sense, an ordinance that extended the discount offered to gas consumers, the discount thus being hiked from several percentages to 40 per cent. “The President in office back then and now promulgated the law (through which the ordinance was adopted – editor’s note) without hesitation and the law continued to work until 2010.” He pointed out that the crime group DIICOT talks about is made up of 42 persons, from ministries and companies, that allegedly undermined the national economy during a period of six years “without respite, without anyone noticing.” The Economy Minister also pointed out that the discount offered to companies totaled “several million Euros per month” and was not meant for a person but for a sector of activity. He pointed out that apart from Interagro, Azo Mures and Elcen Bucharest also benefitted from state support, adding that he never had any kind of financial or professional relations with the said companies. “I want Emil Boc and Traian Basescu heard and summoned in a quality at least equal to mine because in what concerns them the circumstances are aggravating,” Vosganian added.
The PNL Vice President stated that he will not resign from government because this gesture “is not a form of fighting” and pointed out that in case Senators have to vote on the request for the start of the prosecution they should do so based on what their conscience tells them.
PNL President Crin Antonescu stated yesterday that from his point of view there is no point for Parliament to obstruct the prosecution in Varujan Vosganian’s case and it should approve the request for the start of the prosecution. “This obviously not meaning that the presumption of innocence is not respected and I trust Mr. Varujan Vosganian is innocent, categorically, until proven guilty,” the PNL President added.
Videanu denies any wrongdoing
“I believe, and I’m not the only one, that the decision the government took was a correct decision at that moment and I’m prepared to present all the documents that I have,” Videanu stated. The former Economy Minister explained that he did not sign any order while he was Economy Minister, except two memoranda concerning the continuation of the natural gas discount, from USD 40 to USD 30.
He stated that the matter of companies benefitting from this memorandum has not been discussed within the government and Ministry, and the regulations were for “all consumers considered interruptible in accordance with the law”. There are around 17 companies, the Democrat Liberal added, which have benefitted from these legal provisions. According to him, Romgaz reported a profit of RON 3.2 billion a year between 2007 and 2009, and a RON 3.5 billion profit in 2010. Asked whether he had met Ioan Niculae, he answered he met him one time to discuss some investments in Zimnicea. However, according to realitatea.net, prosecutors have intercepted negotiations taking place between Adriean Videanu and Ioan Niculae over ways in which Niculae and his company could get cheaper gas. Prosecutors say Interagro was not allowed to receive cheaper gas because it had debts and was not eligible. According to the cited source, the Minister had issued various orders in order for the mentioned company to become eligible.
Videanu, says that the extracts from the transcripts that appeared in the mass-media are presented fragmented and taken out of the context, in a random sequence, creating a false overview.