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March 2, 2021

Culture Ministry involved in EUR 26 M scandal

In 2009, the Culture Ministry – then led by Theodor Paleologu – paid copyright royalties for some construction and utility works, according to a report of the prime minister’s Control Body. The institution used this modality of payment even for replacing sanitation and air conditioning equipment, ‘Adevarul’ newspaper reports.

The Control Body found out that, last year, the Culture Ministry illegally paid EUR 26 M as copyright royalties for buildings, other construction works and various arrangements that could not be treated as intellectual property, reads the report. The state paid copyright fees for the replacement of sanitation and air conditioning equipment, even though the National Authority for the Regulation and Monitoring of Public Works (ANRMAP) had warned – before the contracts were signed – that the respective works may not be treated as intellectual property. Furthermore, ANRMAP recommended that the contracts should be awarded through public tenders, but this procedure was avoided in both cases.

On November 25, 2008 the ‘Grigore Antipa’ National Museum of Natural History signed a contract of intellectual property lease worth EUR 13 M. According to the document, in 2009, the Culture Ministry – the institution in charge of museums – started making payments, although the works provided in the contract had been wrongly designated as intellectual property. The contract incorrectly associates construction works – which do not qualify for copyright – with other works that could be treated so. Among others, the contract provided for dismantling some existing exhibition areas, manufacturing and handling packaging systems for museum exhibits, installing heat and air conditioned equipment. In addition, the contract also provided for making and installing high and low voltage electric equipment, fire protection systems, video surveillance cameras and platforms for the access of disabled people. Under the contract, “the existing sanitation facilities will be replaced with modern equipment that will provide optimal functionality and comfort, corresponding to their destination.”

According to the Control Body, treating these goods and services as intellectual property allowed the museum to directly award the contract through the procedure of acquisition with one source, rather than hold an auction.

The idea found its way to other mu­seums throughout Romania. On November 25, 2009 the Na­tional History Museum of Transyl­vania signed a contract worth EUR 13 M for various museum arrangement works. In this case too, the payment was illegally made under the form of copyright royalties, the report mentions.

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