The High Court of Cassation and Justice (ICCJ) on Wednesday ruled the 30-day preventive arrest of Iulian Hertanu, Prime Minister Victor Ponta’s brother-in-law, investigated by the National Anti-corruption Directorate (DNA) in a case concerning fraud in a contract funded from European funds.
Moreover, the court admitted the DNA’s preventive arrest request for Vladimir Razvan Ciorba, while Mihail Marian Coman will be investigated under legal restrictions.
The decision is not final.
Iulian Hertanu (photo), shareholder in SC Grossman Engineering Group SRL, was detained on the night of Tuesday to Wednesday by the DNA prosecutors – Ploiesti Local Office, for establishing an organised crime group, illegally changing the destination of European funds and tax evasion.
The same charges were held against Mihail Marian Coman, administrator/associate at SC Indserv SRL Ploiesti and SC Indserv Proiect SRL Ploiesti and employee of SC Hidro Prahova SA (as adviser to the general manager since May 24, 2012) and Vladimir Razvan Ciorba, administrator/associate at SC CVR Asfalt Construct Group SRL Dobroesti, Ilfov County, SC CVR Activities Group SRL Bucharest and SC Gefam Pro SRl Dobroesti, Ilfov County.
However, the prosecutors no longer request the arrest of Liviu Munteanu, administrator of SC Grossman engineering Group SRL, also detained in this case.
In the same case, a criminal investigation and legal restrictions were disposed for Mircea Cosma, Prahova County Council, charged with aiding an organised crime group and use of influence or authority for misappropriation of money, goods or benefits for himself or others; Deputy Vlad Cosma (Mircea Cosma’s son) and Deputy Sebastian Ghita, the last two for the offense of aiding an organised crime group.
The charges refer to the manner of assigning a contract in January 2012, with the objective of “Expanding the sewerage networks of Comarnic town,” by SC Hidro Prahova SA Ploiesti (a 100 per cent state-owned company, in which Prahova County Council is majority shareholder) to the Association SC Grossman Engineering Group SRL – SC Euro Construct Trading 98 SRL.
The investigators show that the purpose of the organised crime group was reached, the criminal investigation having revealed the embezzlement from the project and the appropriation in own benefit, by the group members, of the total amount of 7,797,410 lei (money collected in cash from accounts of natural and legal entities, representing approximately 54 per cent of the total amounts identified as having been paid by SC Grossman Engineering Group SRL to “the partners” who have allegedly subcontracted works); the circumvention from paying to the state, through evasion practices, the amount of 2,515,293 lei (out of which 1,509,176 lei representing the VAT and 1,006,117 lei representing tax for profit).
Manager of SC Hidro Prahova and Liviu Munteanu questioned by DNA Ploiesti in Hertanu case
The General Manager of Hidro Prahova, company where the majority shareholder is Prahova County Council and where several local councils in the county hold stock, reported to DNA Ploiesti Thursday afternoon, having been summoned as witness in the case where Iulian Hertanu had been arrested on charges of setting up a criminal group, embezzlement of European funds and tax evasion.
Having headed SC Hidro Prahova for a number of years, Pantea is the director on whom the investigators claims pressure was put by MPs Sebastian Ghita and Vlad Cosma, as well as Prahova County Council President Mircea Cosma in favour of SC. Grossman Engineering, managed by the prime minister’s brother-in-law.
The DNA prosecutors also questioned Liviu Munteanu, a shareholder in SC Grossman Engineering, who appears as a defendant in the case for joining an organized criminal group, illegal change of the destination of European funds and tax evasion.
Liviu Munteanu is the only one of the four businessmen detained in the case whose preventive arrest has not been asked for by DNA as he cooperated with the investigators.
In the same case, MPs Sebastian Ghita and Vlad Cosma, as well as the President of Prahova County Council, Mircea Cosma, have been placed on judicial control, being charged with supporting the businessmen in obtaining the contract by putting pressure and threatening the management of SC Hidro Prahova.
Robert Cazanciuc: ‘I am not related to PM’s brother-in-law”
Justice Minister Robert Cazanciuc said on Thursday that he was not related to PM Ponta’s brother-in-law, Iulian Hertanu, and noted that he did not wish to comment on a case under investigation.
‘I wouldn’t like to comment on a pending case, we are not related’, he said to the press.
Prime Minister Victor Ponta said in April 2014 that he had known Justice Minister Robert Cazanciuc for a long time, that they had been university mates and worked together at the Prosecutor General’s Office. At the same time, he said they were kins ‘by alliance’, and that it had not occurred to him to ask him to divorce his wife.