Head of the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) Laura Codruta Kovesi sent Romania’s Prosecutor-general the papers needed for the notification of the Chamber of Deputies in connection with the request for the start of the prosecution of deputy Elena Udrea, who, at the time when the suspected crimes were perpetrated, was filling the position of Minister of Regional Development and Tourism.
According to a DNA release sent on Monday to Agerpres, the request for the start of prosecution proceedings zeroes in on the crimes of abuse of power and drawing of undue benefits for self or others, the attempt to use fake documents, the submission of inaccurate, incomplete or false statements for unduly accessing funding from the EU budget and graft.
The deeds under the spotlight are connected to the supposedly illegal award and use, between 2010 – 2012, of funds under the management of the Ministry of Regional Development and Tourism.
“On June 24, 2011, the Ministry of Regional Development and Tourism awarded a contract worth 10,175,168.44 lei under which company SC Europlus Computers SRL [owned by then head of the Romanian Boxing Federation Rudel Obreja] was to provide services for Romania’s promotion in the events that were to accompany the International Professional Boxing Gala organised by the Romanian Boxing Federation. The contract was awarded without negotiation and without the publication of an advertisement, and the amount was to be repaid from European funds. Under this contract, on February 1, 2012, the Ministry of Regional Development and Tourism paid 8,116,800 lei for the promotion services. The public funds were used in a manner that is prohibited by law, specifically for the financing of a sports event organized by a trading company and the amount transferred under the contract represents in its entirety a loss to the Ministry’s assets,” the release reads.
DNA shows that the real purpose of the contract’s conclusion was that of ensuring the necessary funds for the organization of the said boxing gala and the procurement of advertising services was actually just a formal smokescreen, because Ministry did not really need such services and the sole purpose of such actions was to give all these moves the appearance of legality. The anti-corruption body holds that Elena Udrea was actually after electoral benefits, seeking to link her name to that of high-profile boxer Lucian Bute, who was to be the top attraction of the gala. The contract was pushed through under the umbrella of the project “Promoting Romania’s tourism brand” that was supposed to get funding from the European Regional Development Fund.
Yet, the prosecutors note that “the contract was allegedly awarded in breach of legal public procurement procedures and the services acquired are not included in the categories of expenditures that are eligible for European funding programs. These circumstances entailed the refusal of the managing authority of European funds to settle the amount, so that, because of the public servants’ faulty on-the-job acting, the said amounts were fully covered from the state budget. The criminal investigations conducted so far revealed that then Minister of Regional Development and Tourism Elena Udrea had the most important contribution to the perpetration of these deeds and the final outcome.”
The cited source underscores that Elena Udrea decided to have the gala organised following informal talks with Rudel Obreja, that she pressed for the passage of the regulatory acts that defined the legal framework for the financing of the event, repeatedly asked the public servants reporting to her to meet Rudel Obreja to identify solutions for the contract’s conclusion and directly participated in the establishment of the budget the Ministry of Regional Development and Tourism was to assign outside the regulated public procurement procedure.
The existing evidence also shows that Elena Udrea used her influence as a Minister and Deputy Chairperson of the party at rule on a bank decision-maker and the Ministry’s Secretary-general to elicit the fast-track grant, to S.C. Europlus Computers S.R.L, of a bank loan under more favorable than usual terms, reports Agerpres.
DNA: Ex-Economy Minister Ion Ariton put pressure on state-owned companies to sponsor Bute Boxing Gala
Head of the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) Laura Codruta Kovesi on Monday also sent Romania’s Prosecutor-general the papers required for the notification of the Senate in connection with the request for the start of the prosecution of Senator Ion Ariton, a former Minister of Economy between September 2010 – February 2012, on counts of facilitating abuse of power and graft in the Bute Boxing Gala case.
As regards the crime of facilitating abuse of power, a DNA release sent to Agerpres on Monday shows that in his capacity as Minister of Economy, Ion Ariton has determined the representatives of 10 companies under the authority of the Ministry he was heading (Hidroelectrica, Transelectrica SA, Nuclearelectrica SA, Transgaz SA, the Turceni Energy Complex, the Rovinari Energy Complex SA, Romgaz SA, Oil Terminal, IAR Ghimbav SA and the National Society of Mineral Waters SA) to sponsor with a total of 1,742,830 lei the organization of the international professional boxing gala organized in Bucharest on July 9, 2011, featuring notorious power-puncher Lucian Bute as the main attraction.
The prosecutors argue that given that the event was organized by the privately-owned company SC Europlus Computers SRL, which was the real beneficiary of the sponsorship, the sponsorship of the boxing gala was actually prohibited by Law No. 32/1994.
Thus, according to Art. 3, Paragraph 2 of the aforementioned law, state-owned trading companies are not allowed to engage in sponsorship activities the beneficiaries of which are privately-owned trading companies.
According to the DNA release, although the real beneficiary of the sponsorships was company SC Europlus Computers SRL (holder of the exclusive rights to organize the event and which entirely collected the gala revenues), the Romanian Boxing Federation was interposed in the scheme so as to bypass the imperative requirements of Law No. 32/1994 and create the appearance that the financial support was directed to a non-profit legal persons.
In this context, the total amount of 1,742,830 lei, which had been provided in sponsorship, represents loss to the aforementioned companies, and at the same time an undue benefit to Europlus Computers manager Rudel Obreja, as the sponsoring of the gala was prohibited by law.
The funds obtained were used to cover the costs of the event’s organization, with Europlus Computers SRL being the sole beneficiary of the gala revenues which were in the end transferred into the accounts of manager Rudel Obreja.
In connection with the crime of graft, DNA shows that, in order to determine the company representatives to bend to his requirements, Ion Ariton used his authority and influence derived from his positions as Minister of Economy, Senator and president of the Sibiu county branch of the party at rule at that time.
“By using authority and influence, Ion Ariton pursued the illegal transfer of 1,742,830 lei into the accounts of SC Europlus Computers SRL,” concludes the DNA release.