POLITICS

Microsoft case: hearings and incendiary depositions go on

Ex-Minister Gabriel Sandu (photo)  yesterday reported to the National Anti-corruption Department (DNA)  who is conducting investigations in the Microsoft case. He was questioned after being released from remand and placed under house arrest on 23 January.

The replacement of the preventive measure in the case of Gabriel Sandu and Nicolae Dumitru was asked for in Court, after they – press reports suggest – had made statements to the investigators supporting their request to be released from detention. Gabriel Sandu seems to have told the prosecutors that, for the entire duration of his term as Minister of Communications he funded PDL, on a monthly basis, with amounts totalling approximately EUR 300,000. He also reportedly said that he had given the money directly to the head of the party, at the time Prime Minister Emil Boc.

‘For the entire duration of my ministerial term I financed PDL with monthly amounts totalling approximately EUR 300,000. Those amounts I would hand over directly to my superior, Emil Boc, Prime Minister of Romania. I admit to having accepted to finance the party and its operations in order to secure my own political support, keep my office as a minister but also my position on the national PDL leadership. More specifically, in my case, I was supposed to bring approximately EUR 5 M to the party. I paid that money from my own, personal and legally obtained funds and I then partially recovered it in the ways described by Claudiu Florică, Dorin Cocoş and Gheorge Ştefan. I was practically supposed to contribute EUR 4 M to the 2009 presidential campaign’, Gabriel Sandu stated according to mediafax.ro who quotes Antena 3 TV.

Sandu apparently also told investigators that some of the bribe went to ex-Ministers Adriean Videanu and Radu Berceanu, but also to Roberta Anastase. In addition, Gabriel Sandu told the prosecutors that important PDL leaders had put pressure on him to appoint persons they liked to certain offices as well as to contribute millions of euro to the 2009 presidential election campaign.

‘Right after I had been appointed to office I had a very clear talk with the PDL national leaders as well as with the heads of a few county organisations of the party, of whom I name the following: George Scripcaru (PDL Braşov), Gheorghe Ştefan (PDL Neamţ), Florian Aurelian Popescu (PDL Dâmboviţa), Roberta Anastase (PDL Prahova), and Mr. Cezar Preda, in charge of PDL Brăila.

The idea stemming from the talks was that I was supposed to be very careful and listen to their advice, that I was supposed to appoint trusty people to specific offices in the Ministry and support them. However, afterwards I came to the realisation that such appointments applied to many positions in the public administration, but also members of Parliament and members of the European Parliament. The expectations of the PDL leaders were that I supported election campaigns. All expenditures and obligations for that purpose were ordered even under the PDL leaders’ pressure – Emil Boc, Elena Udrea, Vasile Blaga, Adriean Videanu, Radu Berceanu, Roberta Anastase, Alin Albu, Gheorghe Ştefan etc. My remaining Minister of Communications and Information Technology was subject to the fulfilment by myself of those obligations’, states Gabriel Sandu’s deposition quoted by Antena 3 tv. ‘In this context of pressures I was subject to, for the instant payment of financial obligations necessary for the election campaigns in 2009 = either there were no funds available, prepared beforehand by the party or the people who supported the collection of money – I had separate meetings with each of them and, at the initiative of some, with Mrs.

Gheorghe Ştefan and Mr. Dorin Cocoş. The two offered me a way to deal with the deficit, promising guarantees to finance from their own sources, on a temporary basis, my contribution to the two election campaign in 2009. I remember that they offered to help me with approximately EUR 2 M each, in exchange for obtaining the necessary signatures for adopting Government Decision No. 460/2009 for the approval of the acquisition of the Microsoft licences needed between 2009 and 2012, and obtaining the needed budget for running the project’, the former minister says.

 

Gheorghe Stefan: ‘There are witnesses who accuse me without any concrete evidence’

 

The former Mayor of Piatra Neamt, Gheorghe Stefan, currently under arrest in the Miscrosoft affair, says he is uninvolved with the case and accuses Gabriel Sandu of lying in order to obtain prosecutors’ protection.

I have never talked to Gabriel Sandu, Cocos or Dumitru Nicolae about the Miscrosoft contract’, Stefan said. ‘I consider myself innocent because there are protected denouncing witnesses who accuse me without any concrete proof, without written documents, audio-video or ambient recordings. No one in this case claims that I ever demanded any amount of money (not even the protected denouncing witnesses). Whilst my condition is very serious, and I have proof of that from the Jilava and Rahova hospitals, culminating with a pre-infarction while under arrest at the Police when I remained unconscious for an hour, and, since on remand, my cardiac, prostate adenoma, lumbar spondylosis and chronic lymphatic leukaemia discovered after tests run while under arrest have aggravated’, Gheorghe Stefan reportedly told the prosecutors, according to Antena 3 TV.

Gheorghe Stefan was urgently removed from arrest yesterday to be rushed to hospital. According to the same source, he will undergo spine surgery.

In the Miscrosoft case, the businessmen Dorin Cocoş and Nicolae Dumitru as well as Piatra Neamt Mayor Gheorghe Stefan are charged with influence peddling and money laundering and Gabriel Sandu, Minister of Communications and Information Technology from December 2008 to September 2020 with bribe-taking and money laundering. The High Court ordered that they should be placed on remand awaiting trial on 29 October. Gheorghe Stefan and Dorin Cocos are still under arrest.

According to DNA investigators, the framework agreement for the lease of Miscrosoft licences of 15 April 2004 was allegedly concluded under onerous conditions for the state budget, allowing for the embezzlement of a discount of approximately 47% offered by Microsoft to the Romanian Government and, by that, permitting the payment of commissions to relevant persons.

The investigators say that the framework agreement was concluded against the public procurement law, erroneously invoking the quality of single distributor of Fujitsu Siemens Computers, for a price that was at least 40% higher than the actual price, based on a false necessity.

 

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