Toni Grebla, former Senator in the Romanian Parliament and judge at the Constitutional Court is under legal pursuit by the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) for crimes connected to corruption. He is accused of influence peddling, performing financial operations incompatible with his position and founding an organized criminal group.
Judge Toni Grebla is presently investigated for committing continued influence peddling, two crimes o performing financial operations as commerce acts, incompatible with his position, with the purpose of gaining, for himself and for other persons, money, goods or other undeserved benefits and founding an organized criminal group in order to create and prepare to use forged transportation or commercial customs documents to be presented to the customs authority.
According to the DNA, the ordinance approving the inquiry show that, in this case, there are data and clues leading to the reasonable suspicion that defines the following state of facts:
“During 2010 – 2015, suspect Toni Grebla, while exercising his position as Senator in the Romanian Parliament (until December 18, 2013, when he started his term as a judge at the Constitutional Court) and afterwards a judge at the Constitutional Court, pretended and received from the manager of several commercial companies, as undeserved benefits, the following:
-during 2010 – 2015, the free use, maintenance and insurance of an automobile of the brand BMW 5 series, successively registered on several companies controlled by the businessman), worth EUR 56,070.
-during 2010 – 2015, the free use of a telephone station, registered in one of the businessman’s companies.
-on November 2, 2011, the sum of RON 1,200 (the equivalent of several clothing articles)
-in October 2012, electoral goods promoting his electoral campaign for the parliamentary elections, required for displaying 20,000 posters.
The undeserved goods were received in return for the promise to intervene and determine various civil servants to complete and hurry the completion of documents that were part of their office attributions, for the interest of the companies controlled by the businessman, in various fields of activity (energy, transportation, scrap iron, etc.).
During 2010 – 2015, suspect Tony Grebla, while exercising his position as Senator in the Romanian Parliament (until the date of December 18, 2013, when he started his term as a judge at the Constitutional Court) and afterwards a judge at the Constitutional Court, concretely exercised activities characteristic to the qualities of an associate (collecting dividend), administrator (representing the company) and general manager (commercial activities), dissimulated through intermediaries, violating the stipulations of incompatibility (laws defining the incompatibilities of a Senator and of a judge at the Constitutional Court).
It resulted that, uninterruptedly, suspect Toni Grebla performed commercial activities directly or through intermediaries and exercised his qualities as an associate and respectively as an administrator / general manager connected to an agriculture farm located in Gorj County and to a commercial company that produced electric energy as main field of activity.
In partnership with other persons, suspect Toni Grebla founded an organized crime group with the purpose of initiating commercial relations (export of agriculture and food products) from Romania to the Russian Federation, with intermediation of Turkey, to avoid an unilateral embargo imposed by Russia regarding agricultural and food products import from the European Union. To complete these deeds, the members of the group met several times, both in the country and abroad, acting in a coordinated manner in order to complete the purposes they were founded for.
During 2014 – 2015, they performed preparing acts in order to perform crimes of using forced transportation and commercial customs documents at customs’ authorities, as mentioned by article no. 273 of Law no. 86 / 2006 in the Customs Code”, the document issued by DNA mentions.
Toni Grebla was a PSD Senator in the Romanian Parliament during 2008 – 2012 and was reelected at the 2012 parliamentary elections as Senator representing Gorj County.
He was appointed a judge of the Constitutional Court by the Senate on December 18, 2013, as a successor to judge Iulia Motoc to resigned in order to become a judge at the European Court for Human Rights
Grebla: The hearing is unrelated to my activity as a judge, it affects my image
While exiting the DNA headquarters were he was questioned for half of an hour on Thursday morning, judge Grebla declared that the prosecutors notified him on “activities that were performed by relatives”. Grebla claimed that he never took any bribes and mentioned that Ion Bircina, the person who had received undeserved benefits, is his godson. On the other hand, Grebla admitted that his involvement in this case affects his image as a judge of CCR.
At the entrance to the National Anticorruption Directorate, Toni Grebla had declared that he was never involved in a criminal file and that he was unaware on why he had been brought to the DNA headquarters.
“I was never involved in a criminal file. I do not know why I have been brought here”, Grebla said.
Asked whether he was involved in any corruption crime or ever issued a decision favouring anyone, Grebla stated that he never had any private deal and ruled out the possibility of having be paid for a favouring decision.
“I do not know why (I was brought here, editor’ note). No, I have no private deal and I never had any of them. No way (I was ever bribed, editor’s note). I do not know why. I know as much as you know”, Grebla mentioned.
“I was notified on some activities performed by some of my acquaintances and relatives. I cannot tell you many things from the file, but I do want to tell you two things. I never charged money for the activities I performed. And anyway, my presence at the DNA today has nothing to do whatsoever with my activity at the Constitutional Court. There are old things I cannot confess to you now”, Toni Grebla declared while exiting the DNA headquarters.
Regarding the car he allegedly received to use, the judge claimed he received it from his relatives: “From my relatives, indeed. I use it now and then… I give them some of my cars as well”.
Under these circumstances, Grebla pointed out that Ion Bircina is his godson, but he mentioned that he never intervened to help Bircina in his business.
Asked whether he owned an illegal ostrich farm, Grebla replied: “It is not an ostrich farm, it is a rural household. There are seven ostrich, approximately, but they are pets. I do not earn any money by them. Seven ostrich are expensive to care for”.
“I have not done any business from December 22 and until today. I own no shares at commercial companies”, the former Senator added.
“The allegations in this file are in no way related to my activity at the Constitutional Court (…) They jeopardize my image and this is why this whole thing distresses me terribly”, Grebla admitted, also mentioned that he was arrested at the apartment he lives in.
Bircina: I have so much money I do not know what to do with it!
Toni Grebla’s godson Ion Bircina was also brought in on Thursday morning to the DNA headquarters, on an arrest warrant. Bircina is suspected by DNA prosecutors that he bribed Ion Grebla and planned a series of illegal affairs with him.
“I never bribed anyone in my life. I have many companies. I have so much money I do not know what to do with it”, Bircina declared at the entrance to the DNA headquarters.
Police raids to the ostrich farm in Telesti
Several teams of policemen and gendarmes raided on Thursday to an ostrich farm in Telesti, near Targu-Jiu. According to local media, it had been known since 2011 that the ostrich farm in Telesti was controlled by Toni Grebla, although not included his wealth statement. Grebla was a PSD senator at that time.
CCR President: Resignation is personal, we cannot ask judge Grebla to resign
he President of the Constitutional Court of Romania (CCR), Augustin Zegrean on Thursday said that the CCR members could not ask their colleague, judge Toni Grebla who is indicted in a criminal case, to resign, as resignation is “personal.”
“Of course, it was a huge surprise for us. It’s for the first time, not only as regards a judge, but as regards anybody with the CCR, no one has ever been in such a situation. It took us by surprise, it shocked us. We never knew, we couldn’t knew such things until we saw them on TV and until we have received the DNA press release,” the CCR president added.
The CCR plenum reunited on a Thursday meeting took note of the DNA press release, as it was published on the anticorruption body’s website which says that judge Toni Grebla is indicted for corruption crimes.
Official reaction of CCR to DNA inquiry in Toni Grebla case
The Constitutional Court Plenum, reunited at the meeting on January 22, 2015, acknowledged the press release issued by the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) announcing that acts of legal pursuit were performed against judge Toni Grebla for allegedly committing crimes, makes the following mentions:
According to Article no. 66, paragraphs 1 and 3 of Law 47 / 1992 regarding the organization and functioning of the Constitutional Court:
(1) The Constitutional Court judges may only be arrested or criminally tried with the approval of the Permanent Bureau of the Chamber of Deputies, of the Senate or of the President of romania, depending on the case, at the request of the General Prosecutor of the High Court of Cassation and Justice Prosecutors’ Office.
(3) Since the date he is sent on a criminal trial, the Constitutional Court judge is rightfully suspended from his position. In the case of definitive conviction, he is rightfully expelled and in the case of acquittal, the suspension stops.
Therefore, the Constitutional Court judges may be legally pursued without an approval or the authorities mentioned by article no. 66, paragraph 1, but they may not be arrested or sent on a trial otherwise than regulated by the law.
Also, Constitutional Court judges are rightfully suspended from their position starting on the date the criminal trial starts.
Until the pronouncing of a definitive conviction verdict, any person, including the Constitutional Court judge, benefits of a presumption of innocence, according to the dispositions of article no. 23, paragraph 11 of the Romanian Constitution, republished”.
PSD’s Dragnea: Grebla was a good and effective colleague when he was a party member
PSD position on this case was expressed by the party’s executive chairman, Liviu Dragnea, who said that Toni Grebla was a good and effective party fellow while he was a member. “For us, Toni Grebla was a good and efficient colleague, an experienced politician. When he was proposed to the CCR, he was proposed taking advantage of the trust of those who proposed him. He is no longer a PSD member now, he is a CCR judge “said Dragnea, according to Mediafax. Asked if PSD image would be affected by Grebla’s problems with the justice, Dragnea said, ironically: “I don’t know. Fortunately or unfortunately, we don’t have an investigation department or an intelligence service inside the party”.
Ramifications of the case
Retired General Constantin Bartolomeu Savoiu was brought to the DNA premises on warrant to be heard by prosecutors in the case of CCR Judge Toni Grebla. Retired General Bartolomeu Constantin Savoiu is the Grand Master of the National Grand Lodge of Romania-1880. He became a Mason during his exile in Paris. He is a Romanian citizen and French. Judicial sources, quoted by stiripesurse.ro say that Savoiu would be charged for use of forged customs documents. It is signaled a situation in 2014, when Toni Grebla would have made steps to intermediate commercial ties between Ion Bircina and Bartholomeu Savoiu. Meat products would have been marketed across borders following this deal between Grebla’s godson and Savoiu.