People’s Movement Party (PMP) leader Elena Udrea was questioned on Wednesday evening at the central headquarters of the National Anticorruption Department (DNA), on a file against Gheorghe Stefan, the Mayor of Piatra Neamt.
Udrea was questioned as a witness in the 2011 file against the Mayor of Piatra Neamt, in which the latter is charged of having used intermediates, in 2009, in order to manage a company that owned publicly financed contracts in communes of Neamz County, according to Government Decree no. 577 / 1997 regulating the Program of Renovating Countryside Roads, Rural Water Supplies, Connecting Villages to Electricity and Telephone Networks. Stefan allegedly used his position as a Mayor in order to influence public servants.
Gheorghe Stefan is a defendant in several cases of corruption, and the latest of them is related to the licence of the TV station Giga TV, controlled by Stefan.
Gheorghe Stefan was the interim president of the Democrat Liberal Party (PDL) branch of Neamt County, a position he left in March. Afterwards, he joined the People’s Movement Foundation, while still remaining a member of PDL.
Actually, DNA had announced as early as May 28 that the Mayor of Municipality Piatra Neamt, President of the local branch of PDL at the moment of committing the deeds, is under legal pursuit for performing financial and commercial operations incompatible with his function, attribution and assignment in order to receive undeserved money, goods and benefits, as well as abuse of office and authority by a person granted a top-level position within a political party, in order to gain undeserved benefits for oneself or for others.
According to prosecutors, starting in 2009, Stefan allegedly was the actual manager of SC Strong Montaj SA, the former company Tehnoutilaj SA, using intermediates who accepted to formally appear as associates and managers.
“SC Strong Montaj SA (formerly known as SC Tehnoutilaj SA) has signed and put into practice contracts stipulating operations with various customers and has purchased goods and services from a series of suppliers. In other words, SC Strong Montaj SA interfered in exchanges and performed commercial acts, that implied the circulation of money”, according to DNA.
Prosecutors claimed that these financial operations, represented by commercial acts, which allegedly involved Gheorghe Stefan, are incompatible with the position he was granted, that of Mayor of the Municipality Piatra Neamt, and that “they were destined to bring him undeserved sums of money”.
DNA also mentioned that the required financial funds due to be provided by the state budget fir financing the water supplying works to communes, works accepted as established in the program stipulated by Government Decree no 577 / 1997, was annually evaluated by County Councils, after consulting local contracting authorities.
“The financing proposal was sent to the Ministry of Regional Development and Tourism (MDRT) and they announced the annual value of allocated funds (which were usually insufficient to cover all expenses). The allocation of sums from the state budget to communes was made by the County Council. The lists with the distribution of the money for each contracting local public authorities were communicated to MDRT, and after the lists were approved, payments were made”, according to DNA.
At the time the DNA investigation refers to, the Ministry of Regional Development and Tourism was headed by Elena Udrea, who had held thid position during December 2009 – February 2012.
The prosecutors also established that, in order to control the distribution of money allocated by the state budget, Gheorghe Stefan had promoted a certain person to be appointed in the position of personal counselor of the pPresident of the County Council of Neamt.
“Besides office duties, this person was allowed to fill out the lists communicated to MDRT with data indicated by Gheorghe Stefan. In this manner, Gheorghe Stefan had succeeded several times, during 2010 – 2012, during annual budget allocations or budget corrections, to redirect sums of money, especially to those local public authorities that had signed contracts with associations that included SC Strong Montaj SA”, according to DNA.
The investigators claimed that, using his influence connected to the top-level management position he held at the party, Gheorghe Stefan had granted the financing of the works implemented by the company he owned and he actually managed.
“The hearing that precedes the campaign is no coincidence”
While leaving the DNA headquarters after two hours of discussions, questioned whether she considers that her hearing that precedes the start of her campaign with two days is a mere coincidence, Elena Udrea declared that she “does not believe in coincidences”.
Udrea mentioned that, during the hearing, she explained the implementation of this program, managed by the MDRT headed by her during December 2009 – February 2012.
Asked a question whether she would resign in the case of accusations, Udrea answered: “It is not the case. I merely explained, as a Minister, how this program worked. Let us be serious!”
“All requests, regardless of whether they came from Gheorghe Stefan or any other Mayor of the country or any Head of County Council, all of them followed legal procedures and the common law”, Udrea declared, explaining that local authorities usually sent demands of funds for certain works needed in their countries, and the Ministry, depending on the available budge, which was usually 20 times lower than the solicited sums”, allocated funds after reaching an agreement with people in those territories, so that it would cover the necessary minimum”.
Asked why she came to the DNA so late, Udrea explained that she came “in a hurry”. “I had to come as fast as possible, because I understood that the file needed to be solved and I did not want to delay my testimony”, Udrea answered.
Udrea presents candidate programme at former Republica plant, in overalls and helmet
PMP’s presidential candidate Elena Udrea on Thursday launched her ‘Beautiful Romania’ political programme in a fallow shed of the former Republica plant, wearing blue overalls and a yellow safety helmet.
Elena Udrea said she had chosen the place because she wanted to illustrate what Romania would look like in ten years’ time with Victor Ponta as president. ‘This is what the whole Romanian economy, we now know is in recession, would look like’, Udrea said.
As she presented her political programme as a candidate for president, behind her, approximately 50 PMP members including Eugen Tomac, Ruxandra Dragomir, Gelu Vian, but also PNTCD leader Aurelian Pavelescu, were sitting on chairs, wearing black quilted jackets and, most of them, safety helmets.
‘My pledge to you is that what happened to Romanian industry, what happened here, at Republica, will never happen again’, Elena Udrea said. She repeated several times that she was the best candidate for president: ‘I declare with absolutely no superiority that I am the best candidate in this competition’.
In her political programme called ‘Beautiful Romania’, Udrea proposes, among other things, the depoliticising and debureaucratisation of state institutions, continuation of education and health reforms, development of entrepreneurship, attraction of investment for the development of the economy and ‘justice all the way to the end’.