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May 20, 2022

Mironescu batch remains under arrest

Senator Banias challenges ban on leaving the country.

Laurentiu Mironescu, a former Interior Ministry state secretary, Eugen Bogatu, former head of the Port Property department, and 26 more people charged in a case file over illegal imports through Constanta Harbour, will stay under arrest, as Supreme Court judges Tuesday evening rejected the appeals filed against the ruling that the accused be placed under preventive arrest.

Democrat-Liberal Senator Mircea Banias, who is among those investigated in the file case concerned, and was banned from leaving the country, has filed an appeal against the decision with the Penal Section of Romania’s Supreme Court. Banias professed his innocence, saying that what prosecutors should do is, cease the criminal proceedings opened against him. He denied to have interceded in favour of a former director of the Constanta Sanitary Veterinary Department being kept on the job, as the person concerned had already been dismissed at the time.

Accused of “hijacking the state”

While all the accused vehemently deny the corruption charges against them, prosecutors nonetheless say they have strong evidence against the 28 under preventive arrest. Prosecutor Gheorghe Bocsan Tuesday evening said that the Mironescu group concerned themselves with “hijacking the state”, a wording expressing the most serious form of corruption possible, generalized corruption namely, which calls for many influent, well-placed persons being involved. He also said that wiretappings revealed Eugen Bogatu, a former director of the Port Property Department, Constanta National Port Authority,” was the “Boss”. He said that “one third of the evidence in this case file relies on telephone tapping,  one-third, the results of investigation-related controls, and one-third, the outcome of IT searches of computers belonging to Constanta Port customs commission companies. He explained that all the containers seized contained suspect merchandise, some of which were brought via front companies, one of which mockingly called “Ha Ha Suspans Import Export”. The prosecutor also said that Sunai Cadir, director of the Constanta Regional Department of Excises and Customs Operations, sent messages to his relatives and friends, instructing them to “destroy the documents” providing evidence of illicit imports.

Prosecutor Bocsan portrayed the moral profile of former interior ministry general secretary Laurentiu Mironescu as “catastrophic”. “Despite his political, and later on, public position, Laurentiu Mironescu confined himself to being part of a circle of persons practicing influence peddling as some form of daily sports. (…) In the morning, before the search, he made himself available to Traian Igas,” the prosecutor argued, who rejected Mironescu’s denial of influence peddling on grounds of his falling into disfavour with the local organization of the Democratic Liberal Party (PDL). However, he was able to give the impression he was an influential person, as he boasted over the phone about interceding with a minister such as Anca Boagiu, and other some such,” the prosecutor said.

Was the DGIPI aware of port corruption?

According to the Government’s spokesperson, Premier Emil Boc had asked the Oversight Body under his authority to open an administrative investigation at the Interior Ministry as early as May 19, acting on a request by a police trade union. Mediafax quoted sources saying the inquiry was tied inclusively to how salaries were calculated for certain employees, and has also been prompted by the scandal surrounding Mironescu’s involvement in the Constanta Port affair. Minister Igas has repeatedly said he hadn’t been aware of Mironescu being eyed by prosecutors, the minister’s criticism being levelled at the Ministry’s Internal Affairs Department (DGIPI).

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