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February 4, 2023

Hrebenciuc, 3rd criminal case; Sova under investigation

Viorel Hrebenciuc, PSD MP and Deputy Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, was questioned at the National Anti-corruption Department (DNA) yesterday in a new case opened against him. On his way out, Hrebenciuc said he was a suspect in an influence peddling and influence purchasing case. According to the DNA release, the MP has tried to obtain information from various investigations, also wanting to know if his communications were being monitored. This is the third criminal case against him. ‘It is case no. 344/2014, in which I am currently a suspect. I cannot tell you more. You can imagine that this was not my wish. I cannot give you more details. I have not considered resigning from Parliament’, Hrebenciuc said as he was leaving the DNA building.
The Deputy Speaker of the lower Chamber of Parliament ‘allegedly took steps to obtain information from the criminal investigations conducted by the National Anti-corruption Department against himself, promising in return to make various civil servants on which he had or pretended to have influence to carry out their job duties in such a way as to obtain various inducements for the people who would help him with the information he wanted, says the criminal investigation document. ‘Prior to 13.08.2014, Hrebenciuc Viorel asked a person, a former head of a protection structure, to obtain information regarding the issuance of technical monitoring warrants for the interception of communications, the length of such warrants, whether or not the technical surveillance measures could be extended as well as the institution that had asked for such warrants – the National Anti-corruption Department or the Romanian Intelligence Service’, the document further states.
The request to approve the remand measure against PSD MP Viorel Hrebenciuc in the new case in which he is criminally pursued by DNA has arrived to the Chamber of Deputies and referred by Chamber Speaker Valeriu Zgonea to the Legal Committee. Zgonea said he has forwarded the request to the Legal Affairs Committee who has three days to issue a report, the same as for the first DNA request against Viorel Hrebenciuc.
Party leadership in return for amnesty
The DNA document also refers to a meeting Viorel Hrebenciuc had with a party colleague, PSD spokesman Dan Sova: On October 17 2014, Viorel Hrebenciuc, leader of a parliamentary group of a party in the Chamber of Deputies and member of the National Executive Committee of that party, also a vice president of the Chamber of Deputies, has used his influence on a fellow party member to determine him initiate a draft law on amnesty and pardon. Thus, during a meeting of the two, they discussed in detail the charges against Viorel Hrebenciuc concerning the restoring of forest property areas, the condition of criminalization of these acts and the risk of being pronounced guilty. To avoid serving possible sentences to a representative member of the party (already pronounced guilty by a non-definitive prison sentence in the first court for accepting bribery) and to avoid the application of a possible sentence against Viorel Hrebenciuc, he asked his party colleague to guarantee him the adoption of an amnesty and pardon law; his party colleague acquiesced to this request. The suspect Dan Sova accepted Viorel Hrebenciuc’s promise to help him become president of the party against other two possible candidates, to convince the minister of justice to initiate a bill to abrogate article 13 of Law No. 78/2000 (‘the use of influence or authority by a person who is in a leading office in a political party, a trade union or an employers’ association or in a non-patrimonial legal entity for obtaining for themselves or forth third parties money, goods or other inducements’)’ reads the document.
Dan Sova was invited to DNA for hearings yesterday, but, when leaving there, he said that he had not discussed with Minister of Justice Robert Cazanciuc the requests prosecutors claim were made to him by Viorel Hrebenciuc. ‘I have never talked to Cazanciuc’, said the PSD spokesman. Asked if he wanted to become the president of PSD, Sova said: ‘We are not talking about such things. I have not considered it’.
Victor Ponta: ‘Everyone is equal before the law’
The President of PSD, Prime-Minister Victor Ponta said, commenting the legal situation of Viorel Hrebenciuc and Dan Sova, that he was not dealing with such matters, that he had the government business to worry about that the everyone is equal before the law. ‘I do not handle these things, I have the government matters to worry about, I have to take care of your everyday life’, Ponta said. ‘Everyone is equal before the law’, he added. Asked whether his election campaign was hurt by the latest judicial developments, Ponta answered: ‘No, on the opposite. (…) I mean, at this point, there are just two entities left: I, who say what I do as a prime minister and what I intend to do as president, and DNA, which, to be honest, I believe is a good thing’,  Ponta said, also noting that he can’t remember if he and V. Hrebenciuc had talked lately. ‘I have no idea. Probably, I don’t know. I talk to a lot of people. Ask DNA’, he said.
The PSD president also said he would not attend the voting in the Chamber of Deputies on the lifting of immunity for the Social-Democrats Viorel Hrebenciuc and Ioan Adam, explaining that he had not attended also in the past. ‘I do not attend and never have, because I am the head of Government and, in such position, I must have the least involvement with what regards the relations between the Judiciary and the Parliament’, Ponta said.
Hrebenciuc, charged in two other criminal cases
Hrebenciuc is under investigation in a case concerning illegal forest restitutions, where DNA has asked for his immunity to be lifted as well as for a remand measure against him and MP Ioan Adam. Ina  different case, also handled by DNA, Viorel Hrebenciuc is investigated because, according to prosecutors, he acted to convince officials on the National Broadcasting Board (CNA) to reconsider their decision to withdraw the licence of Giga TV, station controlled by Piatra Neamt Mayor Gheorghe Stefan.
He was fed information by ex-Protection and Security chief
Viorel Hrebenciuc was allegedly being fed information from within DNA with the help of the former head of the Protection and Security Service (SPP), Dumitru Iliescu, who asked for and obtained from an employee of the Department information regarding the technical monitoring of the MP. Hrebenciuc allegedly learnt, via Iliescu, that he had been and was being monitored under a technical surveillance warrant issued on the request of the National Anti-corruption Department (DNA). It seems that the same Dumitru Iliescu assured V. Hrebenciuc that he could continue to give him information on the developments in his cases as well as in other criminal cases of interest to him.
In return for the services, Iliescu supposedly asked for Hrebenciuc’s support in having his architect daughter hired. The MP allegedly promised that, through his son, Andrei Hrebenciuc, he would convince civil servants to hire her in a public institution.
Dumitru Iliescu was the head of SPP between1990 and1996.

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