The mother of Prime Minister Victor Ponta, Cornelia Naum, on Thursday morning arrived to the headquarters of the Ploiesti branch of the National Anti-corruption Directorate (DNA), for her to be heard as a witness in the case in which her son-in-law, Iulian Hertanu, is currently held in preventive arrest on counts of creating a criminal ring, embezzlement of European funds and tax evasion.
When asked, upon her entrance into the DNA headquarters, in what capacity she was called there, she said that she would only speak with the prosecutors, not with the media.
PM Victor Ponta’s sister, Alexandra Hertanu, was also heard last week in the same case.
The Prime Minister’s brother-in-law Iulian Hertanu is being investigated while under custody for having set up a criminal group, for embezzlement of EU funds and tax evasion in relation to a contract for the expansion of the sewerage network of the town Comarnic – Prahova County.
The investigators show that the organised crime group members embezzled from the sewerage project, and appropriated in their own benefit, 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.
Prosecuted in the same case placed under preventive arrest is also businessman Vladimir Ciorba, and also, subjected to legal restrictions pending trial were deputies Vlad Cosma and Sebastian Ghita, president of the Prahova County Council Mircea Cosma, former County Councillor Mihail Coman, businessman Liviu Munteanu, as well as the production manager of SC Hidro Prahova, Iuliu Virgiliu Roman.
Cornelia Naum: I am the mother-in-law, not the counsellor
Cornelia Naum, Victor Ponta’s mother, is a witness in the DNA case of Prahova European fund fraud in connection with the expansion of the sewerage network contract awarded by Hidro Prahova.
The PM’s mother left the building of DNA Ploiesti after approximately two hours and, similarly to her arrival, she still refused to make any statements after the interview with the prosecutors.
Asked by the press if she held any precious information relevant to the investigation and if she though she was a useful witness, Cornelia Naum answered: ‘It is not for me to appreciate whether it is precious or not. This is also not my appreciation’.
The premier’s mother was also asked if she was Iulian Hertanu’s counsellor and she said: ‘I am his mother-in-law. The mother-in-law is not really a counsellor’.
The lawyer who accompanied her to the interview, Bogdan Vlad, explained that the prosecutors wanted to know details about conversations Cornelia Naum might have witnessed, and said she was not connected in any way to the company concerned in the criminal activity. ‘The lady has had and still has a part-time employment agreement with her daughter’s company. She has nothing o do with the company suspected of criminal activities. She was asked about conversations with people who appear in this case’, the lawyer explained.
Iulian Hertanu’s mother-in-law appeared annoyed by the journalists who were pushing to ask her questions. ‘You are absolutely impossible to understand. Do you really want us to fight, thrust, what do you want? (…) God, you really have a difficult job!’
Son-in-law Iulian Hertanu charged with setting up criminal group
Iulian Herțanu, shareholder in SC Grossman Engineering Group SRL, is accused by the DNA prosecutors of the commission of the criminal offences of setting up an organised criminal group, illegal change of the destination of European funds and tax evasion.
The same charges were brought against businessmen Mihail Marian Coman and Vladimir Razvan Ciorba.
Mircea Cosma, President of Prahova County Council, and MPs Vlad Cosma and Sebastian Ghita are investigated in the same case, under judicial control.
The accusations refer to the awarding of a contract, in January 2012, for the expansion of the sewerage infrastructure in Comarnic by SC Hidro Prahova SA Ploiești (integrally state-owned, in which Prahova County Council is majority shareholder) to the association of SC Grossman Engineering Group SRL — Euro Construct Trading 98 SRL
DNA claims that, from 2011 to 2015, Iulian Hertanu – manager de jure and, as of 25 April 2014, also manager de facto of SC Grossman Engineering Group SRL, as well as employee of CVR Asfalt Construct Group SRL; Vladimir Ciorbă — manager/shareholder in CVR Asfalt Construct Group SRL and CVR Activities Group SRL București and SC Gefam Pro SRL and Mihail Coman — manager/shareholder in SC Indserv SRL Ploiești and SC Indserv Proiect SRL Ploiești and employee SC Hidro Prahova SA (as advisor to the general manager) set up a criminal group acting to fraudulently obtain a contract for works mainly financed with European funds and illegally appropriate important sums by changing, against the law, the destination of funds obtained for the project involving European money.
They also sought to evade the payment of dues to the state by recording fictitious expenditures or operations in the books of the companies they were controlling.
The contract for the ‘Expansion of the sewerage infrastructure in Comarnic town was awarded by SC Hidro Prahova SA Ploiești (integrally state-owned, in which Prahova County Council is majority shareholder) to the association of SC Grossman Engineering Group SRL — Euro Construct Trading 98 SRL, and was signed on 13 January 2012.
Iulian Hertanu, Victor Ponta’s brother-in-law, reportedly beaten up while on remand
Prime Minister Victor Ponta’s brother-in-law, Iulian Hertanu, was reportedly beaten up and robbed by an underworld criminal while on remand in Campina three days ago, according to ‘Observatorul de Prahova’ that quotes sources from inside Prahova County Police.
Hertanu – they say – had ‘things considered as luxuries’, such as food and cigarettes which he refused to share with the ‘dormitory chief’, therefore the inmate Ionut Pietraru beat him up.
The other cell mates who knew who he was allegedly came to his defence and violently hit the aggressor. Both the victim and the aggressor reportedly required medical attention after the incident.
Contacted on the telephone by observatorulph.ro, the Prahova County Police spokesman said the incident had not been reported. ‘No complaints or reports have been received by either Prahova County Police or Campina remand facility on any aggression against Iulian Hertanu’, IJP Prahova spokesman Alexandru Ursu said.
While his mother was heard by prosecutors, Ponta was writing on Twitter about investment
Whilst in the past the premier was accusing the ‘media lynching’ of his family, on Thursday, during the time his mother was being interviewed by prosecutors, Ponta seems to have had different concerns. ‘Good news! According to INS, net investment was up 3% in Q4 2014, mainly thanks to constructions’, Victor Ponta wrote ON Twitter.
Afterwards, prime minister, Victor Ponta wrote: “My mother, heard at the DNA – a free show for Realitatea TV (since they have no money to pay their taxes)!”.
If so far Ponta’s team was also posting his messages on Facebook, this time they only chose to use the micro-blogging network.