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March 23, 2023

28 detained in Constanta Port corruption case

The suspects may appeal in court. Mironescu, Bogatu deny any involvement of ANAF chief in this case.

The 28 suspects detained in the Constanta Port corruption case were put on preventive arrest, after 16 hours of hearings and statement delivered by their lawyers at the High Court of Cassation and Justice (ICCJ). The lot also includes Laurentiu Mironescu, a former state secretary in the Ministry of Interior (MAI), and Eugen Bogatu, a former director of the Constanta Seaports Company, chiefs of the Constanta Sud Agigea customs office, police officers and inspectors, customs employees and intermediaries, company managers and associates. A 29th arrest warrant was issued for a missing suspect – a Lebanese citizen who worked as a customs intermediary – accused of aggravated bribery. The ICCJ decision is not final and may be challenged in court. PDL Senator Mircea Banias is probed in the same case. He was not detained, but was prohibited to leave the country.

The arguments of lawyers

Prosecutors questioned 20 suspects so far, including Mironescu, but eight of them refused to say anything. Their lawyers say they did not have enough time to analyse the case. The lawyer of Mironescu said yesterday that he could not devise an effective defense plan, because prosecutors did not make available the evidence in the case and only referred to it on several occasions. Anyway, the accusation against his client has nothing to do with the activity of Constanta Port. “The evidence against Mironescu and Bogatu was exclusively obtained from transcripts of phone conversations, and we did not have access to documents about how their phones were tapped,” explains Apostol Armenu. According to the same source, the alleged crime of his client – asking and receiving RON 8,000 from businessman Aurelian Pilca against the promise to intervene at the Transport Ministry to get him a leading position in the Constanta Seaports Company – has nothing to do with the activity of the criminal group operating in Constanta Port. The lawyer said that Mironescu asked Pilca the sum of RON 8,000 under a PDL protocol, and was in no position to secure him a position with the Constanta Seaport Company, because Mironescu did not have too much influence, nor was he in very close relations with former Transport minister Radu Berceanu.

According to lawyers quoted by Mediafax, Mironescu himself told the court that “everything is a scheme of Radu Berceanu.”

Another lawyer, Mihai Valeriu complained about all suspects being granted the same treatment. “They should have made a selection. They did not have the same role, in the same crimes. (…) It would be exaggerated to believe that 30 people were able to control Romania. There should be a limit in everything,” said the lawyer.

Blejnar’s name surfaces once again…

The name of Sorin Blejnar, the head of the National Authority for Fiscal Administration (ANAF) once again surfaced during hearings. ANAF is the institution that controls Romanian customs. The head of the Constanta Sud Agigea customs office, Liviu Durbac denied that Blejnar is “the man at the end of the tunnel” mentioned during a tapped phone conversation, while Mironescu and Bogatu claimed they had no connection with the ANAF chief, lawyers said.

On the other hand, the ANAF chief’s name is also mentioned in a confession to the DNA, which is part of the corruption case of customs policemen and employees that favored cigarette smuggling at the Moravita customs checkpoint, according to Pressalert.ro. “It was Mr. Blejnar personally who appointed the chiefs of customs checkpoints. During July-August, major changes were made in the shifts at the Moravita customs checkpoint, with some shift chiefs and the customs chief being replaced. As far as I know, it was Mr. Blejnar who ordered these changes, in order to have direct control over the money collected by the customs chief,” customs employee Marius Petruta wrote in his confession.

…along with the name of Mircea Basescu

The name of the president’s brother, Mircea Basescu once again appeared in the case, as his daughter Raluca is a shareholder in a company, together with Mironescu and Banias. Mircea Basescu told the Ring newspaper that Traian Basescu called him on the phone to ask him about this issue, but did not reprimand him. He admitted knowing both Mironescu and Banias, but added that he doubts the latter made any wrongdoing.

Banias wanted to give the counterfeited merchandise to hearing impaired people

PDL Senator Mircea Banias admitted that he asked Eugen Bogatu, then chief of the Port Administration, to give him counterfeited merchandise seized by the Constanta Sud Agigea Customs Office, but this was not for his own profit.
He only wanted to donate it to the hearing impaired people of the town, during a Christmas charity event. “I did not want the footwear and clothes, the sports suits and shoes for myself,” Banias said Tuesday on B1TV.

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