Businessman Antonello Celestini accuses the chief of tax body of being also involved in oil smuggling.
New elements surfaced at the end of last week in the case of the bribe involving National Tax Administration Authority (ANAF) officials: the name of Authority president Sorin Blejnar is mentioned in the court motivation of the decision to put ANAF counsellor Nicolae Adrian Gavrila and lawyer Marius Stancescu on preventive arrest. According to the motivation of the Bucharest Court of Appeals (CAB), quoted by Realitatea TV, Marius Stancescu asked the bribe for Sorin Blejnar. “Defendant Stancescu Marius and denouncer Antonello Celestini agreed that the latter will set up a clandestine cigarette factory in Videle. Celestini would have been in charge with supervising the operations and finding the personnel, while defendant Stancescu – through his relations with the president of ANAF – would have protected the business, by preventing verifications and allowing it to run unhindered. Defendant Stancescu accepted to intermediate a bribe of EUR 1,000,000 paid by denouncer Antonello Celestini to the president of ANAF and demanded a share of 10 pc for himself, for his intervention with the president of ANAF,” the Court wrote in its motivation.
Meanwhile Celestini came with a fresh accusation Saturday evening. Speaking on TV, he also accused the ANAF chief of being involved in oil contraband. According to the Italian, Marius Stancescu knew about the scheme and presented himself as intermediary on Blejnar’s behalf. Asked about how much money Stancescu gave Blejnar for this deal, Celestini answered: “He spoke in price per ton, he did not give total sums, he only said how much he was earning per ton and how the money was split. When I talked with Mr. Stancescu, he referred to year 2010. (…) He said he was directly talking with Mr. Blejnar.”
new denouncer emerged
Anti-corruption prosecutors brought accusations against Marius Stancescu and Nicolae Gavrila, after considering the evidence and the statements of a second denouncer, Fabio Rossi, besides those of Antonello Celestini. According to a National Anti-corruption Department (DNA) document quoted by Mediafax, Rossi told prosecutors about their conversations and meetings referring to the payment of various sums. Celestini borrowed from Rossi a sum of RON 64,000, which he gave to Stancescu. Apparently, Rossi witnessed the conversation in which the lawyer asked Celestini EUR 50,000 to intervene with ANAF president Sorin Blejnar. And things did not stop here. On November 22, 2010 Rossi gave Stancescu EUR 7,000 in front of the Phoenicia hotel.
In the conversation about the EUR 1 M bribe for the president of ANAF, Celestini told Stancescu that he will not open the cigarette factory in Videle without a 100 pc guarantee that fiscal inspectors won’t check his business for one whole year, adds the DNA report. According to anti-corruption prosecutors, during the meeting of February 25, 2010 Stancescu told Celestini that he no longer has to give EUR 8,000 to Financial Guard inspectors (the difference up to the initially promised sum of EUR 15,000). Stancescu allegedly told Financial Guard inspectors what problems are in the accounting books of the company and what they should overlook in their next verification.
The CAB motivation also mentions that, in 2008, ANAF counselor Adrian Gavrila told Celestini that Comanita Viorel, the head of the Excise Duties Department of the National Customs Authority, demanded the sum of EUR 400,000, representing 1 pc of the excise duty owed by SC Galaxy Tobacco to the Romanian state. On the other hand, in a conversation recorded by DNA prosecutors, Gavrila admits that he received each month between EUR 7,000 and 10,000 from Celestini, to intervene with ANAF decision makers. He claims that he did not keep the money for himself.
High Commissary Florentin Cornel Croitoru of the General Commissariat of the Financial Guard, who was arrested together with ANAF counsellor Nicolae Adrian Gavrila, is shown by surveillance videos while entering the premises of the company controlled by Stancescu. Croitoru is a suspect in the case of the EUR 1.8 M bribe. According to Mediafax, the video record – which dates back from November 23 – was submitted to the court by DNA prosecutors, along with the memo that proposes to put Gavrila and Stancescu on preventive arrest. On the same DVD there is a record made on November 22, 2010 that shows Fabio Rossi giving the sum of EUR 7,000 to Stancescu.
After he was exposed by media as a suspect in this case, Croitoru confirmed having a friendship relation with lawyer Stancescu, whom he met frequently.
PDL vice-president Cezar Preda claims that the operation aimed at exposing the corruption in the customs system will continue, “and smaller and bigger heads will roll.” The Democrat-Liberal said he recommended Sorin Blejnar “to refrain from making show on TV” and added that it is the premier who appointed Blejnar, so it’s the premier that knows when he should dismiss him. Despite the numerous accusations against him, Blejnar still enjoys the support of the Arad party branch that proposed him for the position he holds with ANAF.
BLEJNAR: THIS COUNTRY NEEDS ME!
Contacted by “Romania Libera” by phone, ANAF President Sorin Blejnar reiterated his having no intention to step down, even if a segment of the society and the press pressures him to do so, even if this would make things easier for him too, personally speaking. “I don’t even think about resigning. This country needs a man who does his job well!”, Blejnar said.