The Ministry of European Affairs (MAEur) released the preliminary results of checks reviewing public procurement contracts to verify the amount of expenses reported to the European Commission (EC), HotNews.ro reports. Out of the 466 contracts reviewed, 130 raise suspicions of irregularities and financial adjustments of RON 53.1 M were applied to the beneficiaries. Nevertheless, the beneficiaries have the right to contest the decision of returning these amounts. Furthermore, MAEur underlined that irregularities in applying the legal provisions are not implicitly construed as deliberate fraud.
Most of the contracts in question are included in the Regional Operational Programme (POR) managed by the Ministry of Regional Development and Tourism (MDRT). The list includes 78 contracts (out of 209 checked) for which financial adjustments of EUR 50.8 M were enforced. The largest ratio of suspicious contracts was reported on the Sectoral Operational Programme for Boosting Economic Competition (POS CCE) managed by the Ministry of Economy. Nearly half of the contracts checked (41 out of 90) were found to contain irregularities, leading to financial adjustments of RON 310.2,000. 120 contracts managed by the Ministry of the Environment were reviewed and nine were found to contain irregularities, leading to financial adjustments of RON 1.9 M.
31 public procurement contracts reported to the EC under the Sectoral Operational Programme for Transports, amounting to a total RON 176 M, were reviewed, but only one was deemed suspicious and no financial adjustment was made.
Within the Sectoral Operational Programme Technical Assistance, 16 public procurement contracts, amounting to approx. RON 8.3 M, were checked, one was deemed suspicious, but no financial adjustments were made.
The ministry further stated that the process of confirming suspicions of irregularities and of setting financial adjustments, where need be, was still in progress, in keeping with the procedure. The Romanian audit authority will analyze the reviews made by the management authorities and forward its evaluation to the European Commission by the end of December.
MAEur announced on October 31 that it had advised the European Commission that the conditions for the resumption of reimbursement payments from the EC to projects running on structural funds had been met.
“The documents will be closely analyzed by the European Commission, which may request supplementary information. We hope we will be able to resume the forwarding of refund applications to Brussels by late November or early December,” European Affairs Minister Leonard Orban stated at the time.
The European Commission stopped the reimbursement process on the Regional Operational Programme’s priority axis 2 on June 11 owing to irregularities found during an annual check on the public procurement segment.
In June 2011, the Romanian side decided to suspend the forwarding of statements of expenditure to the European Commission for all operational programmes until it could provide solid arguments concerning the fairness and legality of the public procurement evaluation, management and control system. The Romanian authorities made this decision as they had been alerted to potential irregularities in the running of public procurement procedures in other operational programmes.