Head of State: Saftoiu, ‘a nobody’
Claudiu Saftoiu contradicts president Traian Basescu, who stated, on Tuesday evening, on the public television, that he had only been informed of the situation in the Romanian customs in the summer of 2010. The former presidential advisor, also the former head of the Romanian Foreign Intelligence Service (SIE), claims Basescu was, in fact, aware of the problems at the customs as early as 2005, arguing that the Intelligence Services provided him, at the time, with tonnes of documents, calling for immediate measures against the acts of corruption taking place at the Western border. “There were intelligence officers who said: Would you come and get these guys, they’re at every checkpoint, corruption is rife there,” Saftoiu stated, quoted by Realitatea TV. He also underlined that the situation in the border checkpoints had been closely monitored at the time (e.n. in 2005), and such reports existed “for years and years”. In retort, while on public radio station, president Basescu harshly criticized Saftoiu. “He was a big nobody. He was not able to stay at the helm of an intelligence service more than a few days. I received information about what was happening in the customs offices at least twice a year. I was not indifferent to them. There have been 51 customs officers and 120 border police officers sent for trial since 2005”, said Basescu.
On the other hand, PSD leader Victor Ponta, accuses the PDL of having been behind the fraudulent appointments of customs officials. “The arrests we have been witnessing at the customs are nothing but a confrontation between two gangs in PDL: the Udrea and Igas group versus the Blaga group, a confrontation which is also related to the congress they are about to have. They are a desperate pack, they’ve started tearing at each other, the heads of the customs offices in Suceava, Arad and Timisoara are all, bar one, appointed by PDL leaders, Mr. Flutur from Suceava, Mr. Falca from Arad, Mr. Ostaviciuc, from Timis. They all pay contributions to the party in exchange for the offices they were granted and, from the three party leaders, the money is sent to Bucharest,” Ponta stated.
The president of the National Liberal Party (PNL), Crin Antonescu, argues, however, that it is worth wondering why investigations in the bribery case at the customs stop at the former head of the National Customs Authority (ANV), Radu Traian Marginean, rather than pursuing the matter all the way to those who appointed him in office or to his direct superiors, such as the head of the National Tax Administration Agency (ANAF), Sorin Blejnar. “Our problem (…) is a corrupt system, which is exposed only partially now. (…) Why does the minister of Finance keep silent?” Antonescu stated.