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August 4, 2021

Parliament leadership rules to form the Calarasi Panel

The parliamentary committee that looks into the operations of CEC started hearings yesterday. Ghetea invoked the banking secret, Cinteza: The loan granted to Ioana Basescu was legal. Chitoiu: We will replace the top management of CEC.
The leadership of the Parliament yesterday ruled to form the panel that will probe the acquisition of a land in the Calarasi County by the eldest daughter of the president, Ioana Basescu, and the decision will be voted by the plenum of the two Houses today, sources with the joint Bureaus of the Parliament informed Mediafax.
The members of the Permanent Bureaus also discussed in the previous meeting the idea of forming the committee and agreed that it will comprise 15 members from all parliamentary groups: PSD – 6 members, PNL – 4, PDL – 2, UDMR, PC and PPDD one each. The leader of PDL deputies, Mircea Toader said that forming the Calarasi committee is irrelevant and the entire probe has no logic, so the democrat-liberals will designate nobody to represent them.
Ghetea, Cinteza and Chitoiu, called for hearings by the CEC committee
In a separate move, the Senate’s Budget and Finance Committee yesterday started the probe of the operations conducted by CEC Bank, by calling for hearings the president of CEC Bank, Radu Ghetea, the head of the Supervisory Department of BNR, Nicolae Cinteza and the minister of Finance, Daniel Chitoiu. Radu Ghetea did not go into details at the conclusion of hearings with the Committee, only saying that he was asked details and statistic data about some loans extended by CEC, something that was also confirmed by members of the panel. The vice-president of the Budget-Finance Committee, Iulian Dumitrescu later said that, during the hearing, Ghetea invoked law 217 on the banking secret, so the members of the panel requested the opinion of BNR on this matter.
As a consequence, Ghetea will once again be summoned for hearings Wednesday. Journalists were allowed to witness the first 5 minutes of each hearing.
In his turn, Nicolae Cinteza told the senators that the loan extended by CEC complied with the internal norms of the bank and with the regulations of BNR. “This morning we received the Supervisory Report of CEC Bank and, since 2011 – the interval probed by the committee – we found nothing illegal. (…) If someone believes that we can present anything else than the truth under the signature of the BNR governor, he is wrong,” the BNR official stated. According to Cinteza, CEC Bank granted to individual customers 5 loans higher than EUR 1 M. He justified the reduced interval in which the state bank extended the loan through the severe lack of customers. “The average time for granting a CEC loan is 8-9 days. (…) Given this lack of customers, how many loans do you believe they have to analyse?” Cinteza rhetorically wondered. When asked about pressures put by politicians on CEC Bank, Cinteza answered that “this is a state bank and such things probably happen in any country of the world where the state has participations.”
“Hence the wish to privatise it, the privatisation was attempted precisely in order to limit these pressures,” Cinteza added. Referring to the banking secret invoked by CEC Bank president Radu Ghetea, Cinteza explained: “It is not the National Bank, but the law that allows or not Radu Ghetea to infringe the banking secret. The banking law clearly stipulates in what conditions banking information can be made available to a third party.”
On the other hand, Finance minister Daniel Chitoiu was firm in regard to the activity of CEC. “CEC Bank did not meet the parameters it assumed. The bank ran into a net loss, crediting is at 93 pc of the targeted figure. I used to receive the bank’s indicators on a daily basis, met president Ghetea each month and he presented the indicators of the bank so that everything was looking better from one month to another. We will operate modifications in the status of the bank,” Finance minister Daniel Chitoiu said upon leaving the hearings. Chitoiu added that since last summer he is trying to replace the management of CEC and enact a dualist system, formed of a Board and a Supervisory Council. As for replacing the president of CEC Bank, Chitoiu said: “When we will adopt the new statute with modifications, we will have to present it to the executive management. At that moment we will see, based on the CV that will be submitted.”
Apart from the discussions with the three guests, the members of the committee also have two reports, sent by CEC Bank and the Central Bank. According to sources close to the committee, the BNR report is favourable to CEC Bank and denies the possibility of a misuse of authority by CEC employees. The same document mentions that the loan granted to the president’s daughter was completely legal, so BNR will not report the case to any other institution, for supplementary investigations. The probing panel demanded BNR to provide, until Wednesday, an official opinion about the right of the president of CEC Bank to provide additional information in this case, with a similar point of view being demanded to a foreign banking authority, committee members also announced.
Before the beginning of proceedings, the chairman of the Senate’s Budget and Finance Committee, Cosmin Nicula informed that the documents initially requested by the panel have been submitted and will be analysed by senators. Cosmin Nicula mentioned that the investigation conducted by the Budget-Finance Committee does not target the loan taken by Ioana Basescu for purchasing the plot of land in Calarasi: “We do not discuss the land of Ioana Basescu; this panel has the role of analysing the management of CEC. I do not have in view an analysis of the credits granted by CEC to natural or legal persons in Romania, I am interested by the activity of the management of this institution.”
As for the fact that the forming of the committee was related to the scandal surrounding the loan extended to Ioana Basescu from CEC Bank, Cosmin Nicula commented: “We took attitude precisely as a consequence of the latest event which we saw on TV. We must take into consideration that CEC Bank is a bank controlled by the Romanian state, with integrally Romanian capital, so I find it absolutely normal that they come and give explanations to a parliamentary committee,” Nicula said.

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