The National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) prosecutors performed searches on Monday at the headquarters of two companies in Voluntari, Ilfov County. SC 2K Telecom SRL, owned by Alexandru Ghita, the brother of Deputy Sebastian Ghita, and at SC Avitech Co. SRL, in a file regarding an auction by the Ministry of Education in 2013, for an European fund based project worth EUR 33 million.
According to a press release issued by DNA, prosecutors are investigating a criminal cause of suspicions regarding the committing of corruption crimes în 2013, regarding the auction organized by the Ministry of Education, Research, Youth and Sports for the project “Internet In Your School”, integrally financed by European funds.
The company 2K Telecom is controlled by Alexandru Ghita – 67,12%, Vasile Domente – 8,05% (Sebastian Ghita’s uncle) and Vasile Radu – 24,83%.
The company’s name also appears in the report of the Constitutional Court for the year 2013, recently published, showing that there were issues regarding the conditions under which a contract with SC 2K Telecom SRL for developing a call center system (voice – data network in the Contact Centre). Specialists say that, at the time the audit mission, the call center system was not functional, although the contract was signed on October 16, 2009, on an initial term of 26 months.
The period was changed by 11 additional documents until December 31, 2014. The long deadline for applying the contract generated the “moral damage of the equipment and software options, a situation that generated additional upgrade expenses”.
At the same time, the Court of Auditors pointed out that the contract included services of maintenance, guarantee and support of RON 432,000 (VAT included), which is a violation of the law regulating the sale of products and guarantees associated to these, a law that stipulates the gratuitousness of the granted guarantee.
Prosecutors were supported by the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) and the Special Intervention Squad of the Gendarmerie.
The program “Internet in your school. Connecting school rurals in rural and small town areas to broadband Internet” was signed on December 2, 2013, by the Ministry of Education.
The contract had a value of RON 119,840,000 (VAT not included), an application period of six months and a maintenance period of six months. The project stipulated the connection of 2,446 schools to the Internet.
Mihnea Costoiu, who was delegated Minister for High Education, Scientific Research and Technological Development at that time, had declared that, after 2,446 schools were connected to the Internet, the service would be provided to other 7,000 schools, as part of a sectioned project developed for 2014-2020. At the end of March 2013, offers were submitted for this program from behalf of consortia including Asesoft International and Orange Romania, respectively Omnilogic, Avitech Co. and Romtelecom.
Ponta on ‘Internet in your school’ programme: ‘I don’t know and can’t comment’
Prime Minister Victor Ponta admitted on Monday to having participated in the signing of the ‘Internet in your school’ programme but said he did not know and could not comment on the fraud suspicions relative to the case involving the SC 2K Telecom SRL company belonging to the brother of MP Sebastian Ghiţă.
‘I don’t know and I can’t comment. In my three years as prime minister, there have been a few hundred project openings. I would be lying if I said that I know exactly at which stage each is. I can inform myself and will tell you’, Ponta said answering a question on the fraud suspicions around the programme.
Sorin Cimpeanu: Education Ministry will offer all information to authorities
Education Minister Sorin Cimpeanu has also had a reaction in the case. He said the Ministry of Education would ‘definitely supply all information to the competent authorities’ on the ‘Internet in your school’ programme probed by DNA, according to Agerpres.
The minister of education also noted that he was not heading the ministry when the programme was being implemented.