Since childhood we have been taught in school that Romania was a rich country, with an extraordinarily resourceful land both above the ground and in the ground. However, as the years went by, we could only see how poor we were. During the communist epoch we would blame it all on Ceausescu, the dictator who would take away from us what was ours, but, after the Revolution, we were all looking forward to that promised richness of this country. It never came. Romania continued to be poor and we continued to punch new holes in the belt, gave up hope and each year accepted the verdict of the redistribution of the little money in the national budget. We kept hearing that there is never money for pay rises, modernisation of hospitals, school equipment, building motorways, for disabled persons, for social welfare, children’s’ benefits or retirement benefits. No only did we not become any richer on the account of this country that exudes richness, but we became poorer and poorer. Other people, on the other hand, prospered so much in the last 25 years since the fall of communism that the middle class almost disappeared in this country. They are those who stole. Because it is no secret to anyone that ‘in Romania everybody steals’. But what we don’t know is how much they steal.
Now the country is groaning. Not ashamed because of the robbers with gold cufflinks, but because the truth has come out to light. At last, we find out why Romania is a poor country, why we have never had money to be aligned with other countries in Europe, why we have no equipped hospitals, motorways, sewerage in villages, paved streets, text books in schools and roads without holes. Thanks to the tsunami of arrests in corruption cases full of important persons who spread their rapacious tentacles both in the business environment and in the public administration, justice and politics, Romanians have the opportunity to understand why they cannot have better lives. The magnitude of the robbery has come forth and it terrifies us.
For example, in the ‘Illegal prosperity restitutions’ mega-case where Viorel Hrebenciuc and Ioan Adam are the stars, charged for corruption, the damage exceeds EUR 300 M.
In the ‘CJ Brasov bribe’ case featuring Aristotel Cancescu and Ion Dinita the damage is approximately EUR 7.6 M.
In the ‘EUR 50 M tax evasion’ case where Nicolae Badalau was charged with influence peddling, the damage is apparent from the title of the case.
In the ‘Tracia-Asesoft’ case against Sebastian Ghita, the state was allegedly robbed of approximately EUR 500,000.
In the three corruption cases featuring Nicusor Constantinescu, the damage is over EUR 5 M.
In the ‘Kenya’ case involving Mihail Boldea, the damage was approximately EUR 1.5 M, according to DIICOT prosecutors.
The damage in the ‘Diesel fuel’ case where ex-ANAF President Sorin Blejnar is on trial for supporting a criminal organised group is EUR 56 M.
The ‘Land trafficking’ case where ex-Ialomita County Prefect Marinica Cazacu was charged with illegal land dealings had a total damage of over EUR 7 M.
The damage calculated by prosecutors in the famous ‘Romsilva’ case was ROL 100 bn, but all three co-defendants were acquitted.
In the ‘Transformer’ case with Relu Fenechiu convicted and sentenced to 5 years in prison, the damage was estimated by prosecutors at over EUR 1.5 M.
In the ‘Romanian Post’ case having Tudor Chiuariu and Zsolt Nagy as headliners, the damage caused by the engineering involving a property downtown Bucharest was estimated at over EUR 8 M.
In the ‘Transfers’ case, several heads of football clubs and managers caused the state a damage of EUR 1.5 M and the 1st League football clubs over EUR 10 M.
In the ‘Cheap gas for Niculae’ case against Ioan Niculae, Varujan Vosganian and Adriean Videanu, the estimated damage is USD 130 M.
In the ‘Rompetrol’ case against Dinu Patriciu, the damage was set at EUR 85 M. As the businessman died, only the journalist Sorin Rosca Stanescu was sent to prison.
In the ‘Quality Trophy’ case where ex-Prime Minister Adrian Nastase was sentenced to 2 years in prison, the damage was EUR 1.45 M.
In the ‘Lottery 1’ case, the businessman George Copos, ex-owner of Rapid football club, is accused by prosecutors of causing the state a damage of EUR 1 M by selling properties to the Romanian Lottery at prices under-valued on paper. Copos is also accused in the ‘lottery 2’ case of a damage of USD 600,000 against the State Ownership Fund.
In the ‘Suitcase’ affair featuring the controversial businessman George Becali, currently serving a three-year prison sentence, the Tax Authority needs to recover a damage of EUR 1.7 M.
In the ‘I.C.A.’ case where the politician and businessman Dan Voiculescu was sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment, the state lost EUR 60 M.
Not least, the case that is currently causing a big fuss, the ‘Gala Bute’, needs to be reminded of. The entire damage suffered by the state and calculated by prosecutors in this still pending case is EUR 2 M.
And these are just a few examples which show where our money ended up. Down the drain.
2010 statistics indicate a total damage from such cases of EUR 580 m, a value of frozen assets of EUR 88 M and a value of seized assets of EUR 1.6 M.
In 2011, the value of damages was EUR 761 M, but the value of frozen assets of EUR 141 M and of seized assets of just EUR 5 M.
In 2012, the value of damages was EUR 768 M, the value of frozen assets was EUR 419 M and the value of seized assets was just EUR 7.8 M.
In 2013, the value of damages was EUR 1.9 bn, the value of frozen assets was EUR 434 M and the value of seized assets was EUR 7.6 M.
It was not coincidentally that Romania has been again reprimanded by the European Commission specialists who found that the various institutions in Romania, particularly ANAF, fail to recover the damages from criminal cases. The latest Justice report within the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism says that the rate of damage recovery in Romania is ‘very low, at around 8% of what the Courts seize’.
In other words, it is pointless to parade in the international mass-media this wave of arrests of robbers with resounding names in Romania unless we do not take our money back.
Expert Forum identified this tragic reality that caused an unimaginable impoverishment of the state budget. Experts believe that, in most cases, the assets frozen by judicial bodies are almost never enough to integrally cover the damage caused by the criminal conduct.
All this is reinforced by another aspect too little is said about – the fact that the state loses yet a second time from incarcerating the criminals who abuse its budget, because it costs it over 2,300 lei every month to keep a person in prison.
Who suffers the most after all this? Obviously the regular person. The honest Romanian who justly wants a bigger income, schools, better equipped hospitals, a reliable infrastructure and a Western type of livelihood.