The National Anti-corruption Directorate (DNA) Ploiesti on Tuesday conducted a total of 14 searches, mostly in Bucharest and Ploiesti, at the registered offices of companies and residential addresses and questioned several people in a case concerning, among other, Iulian Hertanu, PM Victor Ponta’s brother-in-law, ex-Prahova County Councillor Mihai Coman and Social Democratic Party (PSD) Deputy Vlad Cosma.
The prosecutors are dealing with a criminal case concerning criminal offences assimilated to corruption and fraud involving European Union funds.According to some sources from the judiciary, the corruption deeds in question are related to the defrauding of over 7-million lei from European funds and tax evasion worth 2.5 million. The facts have supposedly been committed over 2011-2015.
According to Mediafax, Mihai Coman, currently working as an advisor for SC Hidro Prahova SA, company set up by the association of Prahova County Council and several local councils in the county that has been implementing the most important European project in Prahova for developing sewerage infrastructure in a number of localities for a few years now, has an important role in the case. Mihai Coman was a PSD County Councillor in 2000 – 2004 and is the owner of the SC Indserv Ploiesti company.
Judicial sources have told Mediafax that one of the companies that were being searched was SC Exfin SRL – the Bucharest working point – a company founded by Cornelia Naum, PM Victor Ponta’s mother, currently controlled by his sister and brother-in-law, Alexandra and Iulian Hertanu.
The Bucharest home of the Hertanu family was also searched.
Judicial sources have told Mediafax that another entity concerned in the case was SC Grossman Engineering Group SRL, one of the companies where the premier’s brother-in-law, Cristian Hertanu, is a manager de jure and, since 25 April 2014, a manager de facto, being also an employee of SC CVR Asfalt Construct Group SRL Dobroiesti, Ilfov County.
According to the quoted sources, Iulian Hertanu and Vladimir Răzvan Ciorbă, manager and co-owner of SC CVR Asfalt Construct Group SRL, SC CVR Activities Group SRL Bucharest and SC Gefam Pro SRL Dobroeşti, as well as with Mihail Marian Coman, manager and co-owner of SC Indserv SRL Ploieşti and SC Indserv Proiect SRL Ploieşti and employee of SC Hidro Prahova SA, as an advisor to the general manager, since 24 May 2012, ‘set up a criminal group acting for fraudulently obtaining the works contract for the expansion of the sewerage system in the town of Comarnic’.
The agreement was signed on 13 January 2012 between the Association of SC Grossman Engineering Group SRL – SC Euroconstruct Trading 98 SRL and SC Hidro Prahova SA Ploieşti, mostly financed with EU funds.
Suspicions of European money embezzlement and tax evasion
The investigators suspect the representatives of the companies of appropriating important sums of money from the project by illegally changing the purpose of the funds obtained and by evading the payment of dues to the state, by reporting fictitious expenditure or operations in the documents of the companies they controlled.
The criminal group was allegedly joined by Liviu Munteanu, who was appointed as manager of SC Grossman Engineering Group SRL, on 25 April 2014, the quoted documents also say.
The investigators suspect that approximately 54% of the funds made available for a European project, the money being taken for private interest. There are also suspicions on the commission of crimes assimilated to corruption, including tax evasion.
The estimated damage is RON 7.8 M, plus RON 2.5 M from tax evasion, the sources say.
Dan Besciu co-owner and manager of Euroconstruct 98 Trading, was placed under house arrest on 11 December 2014, charged in a DIICOT case of tax evasion, money laundering and embezzlement with a calculated damage of approximately RON 34 M. Besciu is currently under judicial control, a measure enforced by the High Court on 7 January.
Victor Ponta: ‘Law has to be equal for everybody’
Prime-Minister Victor Ponta has reacted on Twitter to the DNA action of searching Exfin 2000, the company set up by his mother and currently owned by his sister. ‘I don’t know this ad anyway it would be wrong for me to comment on investigations made by prosecutors concerning my brother-in-law. The law has to be equal for everybody’, Ponta said.
Sebastian Ghiţă taken in with warrant to DNA Ploiesti as suspect in Ponta’s brother-in-law case
MP Sebastian Ghita (photo) was taken in to DNA Ploiesti with a warrant on Tuesday, as a suspect in the case against PM Victor Ponta’s brother-in-law, Iulian Hertanu. ‘I came with a warrant, I was summoned’, Ghita said. He arrived to DNA Ploiesti at about 11:50.
Answering a question, S. Ghita said he was a suspect in the case against the premier’s brother-in-law, Iulian Hertanu.
Asked about the contract involving European funds for the introduction of sewerage in Comarnic, Ghita said: ‘We all know works did not go as planned there, that there has been stagnation and the company did not perform and complete the public work. I don’t know more details’.
Asked whether or not he had been concerned in the contract, the MP gave a negative answer. Asked why he had been brought in to DNA with a warrant if he was not connected with the contract, Ghita answered: ‘I know the man (Iulian Hertanu – a/n) and most likely the prosecutors want to check the nature of our relationship’. Asked if Iulian Hertanu was his friend, the Prahova MP said he knew him, that he had seen him ‘a number of times, on various occasions’, that they were not very close and that he ‘assumed it was all about that’.
Initially, Sebastian Ghita said he didn’t know why he had been summoned to DNA Ploiesti, saying it was ‘an institution where you don’t want to come in any capacity’.
Ghita under criminal investigation, Hertanu detained, Cosma under judicial control measure
After the hearings, MP Sebastian Ghita was placed under criminal investigation for using his influence and authority for the purpose of obtaining undue benefits for another person.
Iulian Hertanu, Prime Minister Victor Ponta’s brother-in-law, on Tuesday evening was taken into custody by the National Anti-corruption Directorate (DNA) prosecutors, alongside two other businessmen. All three of them were waiting 17 hours at the DNA headquarters in Ploiesti before they were handcuffed and placed in preventive detention with the Police County Inspectorate (IPJ) Prahova.
Iulian Hertanu is suspected that, together with other persons, set up a criminal group that acted for fraudulently obtaining the contract for the expansion of the sewerage system in the town of Comarnic.
The President of Prahova County Council, Mircea Cosma, and his son, MP Vlad Cosma, questioned by DNA Ploiesti in the case also concerning Iulian Hertanu, on Tuesday, were placed under a judicial control measure on the charge of aiding a criminal group. Since he is a member of Parliament, the prosecutors will need the approval of the Chamber of Deputies if they wish to detain or arrest Vlad Cosma again. During his judicial control measure, the defendant Mircea Cosma must not operate as President of Prahova County Council, DNA states in a press release.