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May 18, 2021

Cabinet notifies DNA over Bechtel contract for the Transilvania motorway

Former ministers Gheorghe Dobre, Sebastian Vladescu, Monica Macovei, Radu Berceanu are accused of possible acts of corruption.
The government notified the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) and the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) for irregularities in the contract with Bechtel for the construction of the Transilvania motorway, accusing possible acts of criminal nature committed by former ministers Gheorghe Dobre, Sebastian Vladescu, Monica Macovei, Radu Berceanu and the former chief of CNADNR, Cristian Duica. In the report finalised on November 27 and submitted by the government last Friday, the inspectors mention that the agreement with Bechtel was modified without observing legal regulations, which caused losses to the state.
“We submitted to the DNA the results of the control and the matters of criminal nature which we discovered. We wanted to end a debate that has lasted many years and is important for Transylvania, about what we started in 2004 and have not continued. The answer is much ignorance and malevolence. Set aside the past, it is good for us to know who is responsible for the motorway not being constructed,” Premier Victor Ponta said, quoted by Mediafax.
According to the report, the renegotiation of the contract, initially set at the value of EUR 2.2 bln, was initiated in 2005 without a mandate from the government, only under a mandate granted by former Transportation minister Gheorghe Dobre (PDL), and works got delayed. The negotiations were coordinated by Dobre and the former minister of Finance, Sebastian Vladescu. By concluding an accord that modified the contract, based on a government decision initiated by Dobre and approved by Vladescu and the former minister of Justice, Monica Macovei the state lost EUR 40 M by reclassifying this sum initially extended as an advance payment and mobilisation expenses, against legal regulations. Government inspectors claim that the ministers knew, according to the justification note of the government decision, that they had the obligation to recover this sum. In order to give “a semblance of legality,” they however accepted to increase the mobilisation expenses from EUR 30 M to EUR 70 M, although these referred to activities previous to the beginning of the construction. The inspectors accuse Dobre, Vladescu and Macovei of conceiving a scheme that would justify the fact that Bechtel kept the EUR 40 M. They also claim that the modification document extended the time allocated to works by a year, thus increasing the total cost by at least EUR 12 M.
According to the report, the contract was again modified in 2009 by the former minister of Transportation Radu Berceanu (PDL) and by CNADNR director Cristian Duica only through a protocol, although this should have been made at least through a government decision, which had as consequences the payment of EUR 29.4 M to Bechtel. Later, in 2011, by a memorandum of the government that indicated a total cost of EUR 9.9 bln and a saving of EUR 6 bln, Bechtel received an additional sum of EUR 115 M for “reaching a settlement.” According to the report, the total effective sum paid to Bechtel, initially calculated at EUR 2.2 bln, reached EUR 1.2 bln only for 52 km constructed, accounting for 12.5 pc of the total length of the motorway. Works have been started but not finalized on a total length of 60.5 km, 15.7 pc of the total length.
Blaga and Macovei reject the accusations
The former minister of Transportation, Radu Berceanu said that he has “better things to do than listen to those oddities” and if anyone has doubts, then he is willing to answer questions. In her turn, EuroDeputy Monica Macovei claims that Adrian Nastase, Miron Mitrea and Dan Sova “are to blame for the damaging contract with Bechtel and the lies surrounding it.” “<> of the original contract and the inability of minister Dan Sova to <> the document, followed by the termination of the contract, raise many questions over the intentions of the Ponta government,” Macovei wrote on her blog.

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