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December 3, 2021

PM Ponta confirms: The Fleet file may be reopened

Closed by the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA), the “Fleet” file may be reopened after a contestation that may be submitted by the Government.

On Sunday evening, Antena 3 had announced, based on unrevealed sources that besides the contestation already announced by expert Gabriel Stefanescu, former evaluator in the “Fleet” file, another contestation may be submitted by the Romanian Government itself.

The confirmation arrived on Monday night  when Prime Minister Victor Ponta  admitted that there is a legal possibility of reopening the ‘Fleet’ file, a high-profile case against former president Traian Basescu. He mentioned he has asked the Justice Ministry and the Authority for the Administration of State Assets (AVAS) to study the prosecutors’ decision to close the case.

“Based on the analyses, we will take a decision. The Government is held responsible by the Court of Accounts for the way it manages the damages incurred by the state; we don’t want the Court come and tell us we did not do everything we could to recover the damages,” Ponta wrote on his Facebook account.

In an earlier phone call to the Romania TV station, the Prime Minister admitted the legal possibility of reopening the “Fleet” file on corruption related to the privatization of the Romanian commercial fleet is being currently studied.

“For the time being, it is just a phase of study of the legal possibility. (…) I cannot comment magistrates’ decisions,” he mentioned.

Prosecutors of the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) closed the case involving the former president last week. Answering a question of Agerpres, they pointed out that a decision to suspend the case was taken on October 19 2006, on the basis of the presidential immunity granted by the Constitution. The investigation was resumed on January 12 2015, after the reason of the suspension ceased on December 21 2015, when President Traian Basescu’s second term in office ended.

The charges against Basescu – office abuse with serious consequences, in a continued form, forgery in a continued form and embezzlement – were dropped as these acts were found inexistent.

The alleged office abuse by Basescu was dismissed on grounds that his decisions as Transportation Ministry official in 1990-1992 and 1996-2000 “did not result in and did not determine the occurrence of any damage to the assets of the CNP Petromin Company of Constanta, as the ships involved in the case were sold based on legal approvals granted by the State Assets Fund (FPS), the majority stakeholder of Petromin, within the privatization initiated by the Romanian Government,” the prosecutors stated.

In a phone call for the TV show “On the Daily Agenda”, on Antena 3, journalist Razvan Savaliuc explained the role of the Government in this file and the facts the contestation would be based upon. “The first thing DNA has to do is to communicate the closing solution to the parties in the file: the damaged civil party, that is the Romanian Government, through the Authority for State Assets Recovery (AVAS) and the party that caused the damage. (…) The first thing AVAS has to do after DNA announces the solution is to file a complaint within 20 days to a higher rank prosecutor, namely to the Head of DNA, Laura Codruta Kovesi. After she will overrule the complaint filed by the Government, they may bring the case to court”.


Expert in the “Fleet” file: the prosecutors’ decision was illegal and unprofessional


Gabriel Stefanescu, former head of the Control Corps in the Ministry of Transportation and an expert in the “Fleet” file was a guest of the Sunday edition of the TV show “Synthesis of the Day”, where he discussed the illegalities discovered in this Ministry and, later, in the inquiry targeted on the Romanian fleet, lost “without prejudice” while Traian Basescu was leading the Ministry.

“In 1989, the Romanian fleet consisted of approximately 300 ships. Their real, accountable value totalized USD 3 billion. Ceausescu was received in a dignified manner all over the world for being backed up by this economy and industry. We were the fifth greatest fleet in the world. In the field of oil, we were the third greatest fleet in the world. We were a model in China. When Basescu  made visits abroad, he was on his knees”, Gabriel Stefanescu, an expert in the “Fleet” file declared for Antena 3.

Gabriel Stefanescu revealed that his dismissal was the first order signed by Traian Basescu after being named Transportation Minister (by the end of the year 1996), as means of revenge for Stefanescu being a member of the team of 40 specialists working on the “Fleet” file. Stefanescu won a trial at ECHR, in 2007, related to this issue.

The decision of the eight prosecutors that exempt the eight defendants in the “Fleet” file of any accusation of having caused prejudice to the Romanian state was “illegal and unprofessional”, Gabriel Stefanescu declared on Antena 3.


Stefanescu: It is a harder strike to the national economy than a nuclear blow


“In the year 2003, Chief Prosecutor Amariei, member of DNA at that time, filed documents justifying approximately EUR 300 million to the Ministry of Justice. So, he covered 16 ships out of 128. The entire fleet reached a value of EUR 3 billion in 1992 – 1994. It is a harder strike to the Romanian economy than a nuclear blow. It is an economical war Romania is still struggling with today and many personalities are watching passively as economical branches are being destroyed. Basescu is directly involved in the destruction and the pillaging of the Fleet, as well as an organized group that had included Calin Marinescu, Virgil Toana and many others”, Gabriel Stefanescu declared.

The former Head of the Control Corps in the Ministry of Transportation presented legal arguments for reopening the Fleet file: “Basescu had been a Minister four times and presents it as an achievement. But he had been the main credit release authority. I would invite prosecutors to read the working regulations of the Ministry during his term as a Minister and see what these documents stipulated. He was supervising the patrimony of the state owned companies. And the three companies of the Fleet were owned by the state. He was behind some of those actions”, Stefanescu further declared.



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