Labour Minister Ioan Botis may resign after the National Integrity Agency (ANI) started verifying the possible conflict of interest in which the Minister allegedly finds it self. Ioan Botis admitted on Monday evening during a TV show that the Euroactiv Partnership Association, an association that is implementing the ‘Chance to dignity’ project, a European project financed by the EU and the government, has its head quarters in a building owned by his wife in Bistrita. The project was approved by an agency that is the Labour Ministry’s subordinate. Alina Capraru, the Minister’s former principal private secretary, and his wife, who is the association’s adviser, are involved in the project.
The Anti-Fraud Department (DLAF) has also started an investigation into this possible conflict of interest. According to a DLAF communiqué quoted by Mediafax, “there are clues that point to the violation of national and European legislation on the conflict of interest.” DLAF is the Romanian counterpart of the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), the body that investigates the way in which European funds are spent in EU member states.
Wife to quit
Botis met Prime Minister Emil Boc at the Victoria Palace yesterday, however he was not asked to resign, the Premier waiting for the conclusions of ANI’s investigation. “I presented this case to the Premier in detail and I told him that my resignation will be inevitable if ANI finds that there is a conflict of interest. If a conflict is judicially proven then there will be only one option: I will resign,” the Minister said, adding that the Head of Government listened to his explanation and did not ask him to resign. Botis explained on Monday evening on Realitatea TV that from a judicial point of view he is not in a conflict of interest, yet admitting that morally speaking his wife’s involvement was a mistake. “I personally do not receive any money. My wife is not its direct beneficiary. We’re talking about an association that handles that contract. She is paid as advisor,” the Minister said.
However, later on, Botis announced that his wife would quit from the councilor position in this project, saying she earned 8,000 RON monthly.
As for PM Boc, he admitted Botis’s case is not new, saying the minister is an honest man and he will resign if ANI decides he is subject to a conflict of interest. “He is a minister who did a very great job, I am waiting for ANI’s conclusions (…) It is authorities’ job to clear the situation”, said Boc.
ron 2.13 m project
According to the Management Authority of the Development of Human Resources Operational Sectoral Programme (AMPOSDRU), the ‘Chance to dignity’ project implemented by the Bistrita-based Euroactiv Partnership Association totals RON 2,130,890 M and no reimbursement request has been filed. Of that, RON 1.9 M represents non-reimbursable EU funds and RON 187,700 comes from the national budget. The project’s beneficiary has a RON 44,000 contribution. The project was approved on October 1, 2010, and the financing contract was signed on October 27, 2010.
Democrat-liberals defend Botis, opposition and trade unions ask for his resignation
Mircea Toader, leader of Democrat-Liberal MPs, claims that from a legal point of view Labour Minister Ioan Botis does not have “any kind of problems,” however resigning is his choice. Both Toader and PDL Vice President Raluca Turcan are of the opinion that a decision will have to be taken after ANI reaches a verdict. PDL Vice President Ioan Oltean stated in his turn that Botis is “a well-educated boy” that knows what to do and that does not need his advice. PDL spokesperson Sever Voinescu stated that the Minister is the one that should decide and the party will subsequently “have something to say.”
On the other hand, PSD President Victor Ponta considers that Botis should resign immediately and that his party colleagues will protect him. “They are thieves and protect each other,” Ponta stated on Realitatea TV. In his turn, Puiu Hasotti, leader of Liberal MPs, stated on RFI that Minister Botis will not resign because his actions “perfectly match PDL’s political behavior” and the row in which he is involved will die out “in a day or two.” Cartel Alfa trade union President Liviu Apostoiu is convinced that Botis will not resign although he should do so as urgently as possible.