POLITICS

Bucharest’s District 5 Mayor next on anticorruption prosecutors’ list for abuse of office and EUR 90M bribery: Vanghelie taken into police custody

Bucharest’s District 5 Mayor Marian Vanghelie, ex-President of PSD Bucharest, is concerned in a corruption investigation where he has been charged with abuse of office and bribery. The National anti-Corruption Directorate (DNA) prosecutors on Thursday searched a total of nine addresses in Bucharest and Ilfov County, two of which being public institutions and the rest being either company offices or residential addresses, as part of a criminal investigation into suspected corruption criminal offense committed from 2007 to 2015. The two public institutions searched were the Municipality of District 5, Bucharest and the Public Property Administration – Sector 5. The investigation is with regard to municipality contracts for the renovation of schools, illegally awarded to a certain company, financed with municipality money.

The investigators also searched the home of Mayor Marian Vanghelie. Initially, the official was not at home, but was brought from the Police from her partner, MP Oana Niculescu Mizil. The searches ended after a few hours. “They took watches, the mayor handed them over, they are watches that appear in his wealth statement anyway. They also took some documents belonging to Mr. Vanghelie’s former wife, concerning a plot of land belonging to the mother of Vanghelie’s former wife,” Cezar Bivolaru, one of the mayor’s lawyers, stated.

The damage in the case is almost EUR 450 M. According to the investigators, Marian Vanghelie charged commissions representing 20% of the price of the awarded contracts, meaning approximately EUR 90 M.

The DNA prosecutors called in for questioning District 5 local administration members of the staff. In early September 2014, ADP Sector 5 was searched regarding a tax evasion worth RON 35 m.

In December, Bucharest Tribunal prosecutors checked the Social Welfare Department of the Sector 5 Municipality.

 

Lawyer: ‘The warrant for taking him in said he was a suspect of abuse of office’

 

‘Bucharest District 5 Mayor Marian Vanghelie whose home is being currently searched by the anti-corruption prosecutors is a suspect in the case, said his lawyer, Cezar Bivolaru, who also noted that the warrant for taking him to DNA said that he was suspected of abuse of office. ‘The warrant for taking him in said he was a suspect of abuse of office. There are no details, therefore I cannot give you any at this point. The paperwork I have seen so far contains no indication as to the damage in the case’, Mayor Marian Vanghelie’s lawyer said, quoted by Mediafax.

Asked if Vanghelie had charged any commissions for awarding municipality contracts, the lawyer said: ‘I am sure he did not’. On the reason for taking Oana Mizil for questioning, the lawyer said he did not know the details.

‘She can have no quality in this case as she is a member of the Romanian Parliament. I am not aware of a request from the prosecutors regarding her investigation’, lawyer Cezar Bivolaru added.

 

Oana Niculescu Mizil prosecuted

 

DNA prosecutor have ordered the start of the criminal prosecution against MP Oana Niculescu Mizil. She is charged of conducting financial operations incompatible with her position as MP – she allegedly administered a commercial company. She denies the allegations. Marian Vanghelie’s lover admitted in an interview for B1TV that she filed her resignation and that she is 4-months pregnant with the District 5 Mayor. “Victor, Victor (Ponta – editor’s note)… and I am looking in his eyes when I’m saying this, I’m looking at the camera, and I won’t say anything else… I’ll say it firmly and he knows what I mean. I’m sorry for him and I’m sorry for Daciana too (Daciana Sarbu – editor’s note),” Oana Niculescu Mizil stated.

“I am a correct person, that’s how I’ve always been. With a great deal of regret, because I greatly loved what I was doing, just like I loved fashion, I loved people. I have filed my resignation to the institution’s general secretariat,” she added.

“It’s a dirty political game I wish I never heard about,” she pointed out.

MP Oana Niculescu Mizil, Marian Vanghelie’s partner, was escorted by the Police to the National Anti-corruption Department on Thursday. She was questioned about the corruption offences the mayor of District 5 of Bucharest ahs been charged with.

The MP said she was not aware of any illegal activities of the mayor. Lawyer Cezar Bivolaru said afterwards that the ex-Social-Democrat had been taken in with a warrant.

‘He has no commission, no commission has been received. Nothing is true. I honestly didn’t know anything about anything on that list’, Oana Niculescu Mizil said.

PSD Secretary General Codrin Stefanescu announced on Thursday that Oana Mizil will be excluded from PSD because she appears on the list of supporters of the Romanian Social Party that Mircea Geoana is setting up.

“Concerning the fact that Oana Mizil appears on the initiative list of the Romanian Social Party, the new party set up by Geoana and Vanghelie, a document filed at the Bucharest Court, you can’t be a member of two parties, of PSD and of another party, and your statute of PSD member legally ceases,” Stefanescu said.

He pointed out that the decision to exclude Oana Mizil will be discussed within PSD’s District 5 branch on Monday and within PSD Bucharest’s Political Bureau on Thursday.

“The decision taken by District 5, which will be validated in Bucharest, has nothing to do with what is going on at the DNA. It will be analyzed within PSD District 5 on Monday and we will discuss it within the Political Bureau in Bucharest on Thursday,” Stefanescu added, Mediafax informs.

 

Marian Vanghelie: ‘The Interior Minister is the most corrupt man in Romania’

 

Vanghelie recounted how the search took place at his home, and warned politicians, especially Victor Ponta and Interior Minister Gabriel Oprea, that “the turn comes for all of us.”

“I understood from the television station owned by Mr. Ghita (Romania TV – editor’s note), Mr. Ponta’s associate, that I took a commission of EUR 400 M. I find it a bit hilarious,” the mayor stated on B1TV.

Asked whether he took the commissions the DNA accuses him of taking – 20 per cent of the value of contracts that were illegally offered – the mayor answered: “Despite the fact that things are not very pleasant for me, things are not like that. Only the crazy are calm when things happen. This is life, maybe there are some denunciations, we are living in denunciation land. I don’t have problems.”

The District 5 Mayor also commented on the fact that his lover, Oana Niculescu Mizil, went to the DNA for hearings on Thursday morning. “Mrs. Oana Mizil has no problem. She seldom went to my cousin, to his stores, and my cousins used to ask her advice on certain issues. The goal has been to make a big fuss. I thought Marian Vanghelie was enough; I didn’t think it was also necessary for Vanghelie’s lover to appear on the screens. We are living in the country we want and things are going very well,” the mayor emphasized.

Later on, the former Social-Democrat stated on Digi24 that he has no bank account, “only worldly things,” and that he did not illegally offer any contract, since “everything was legal.”

Referring to the reaction of Victor Ponta, who stated that “Alina Gorghiu has lost her main ally, Vanghelie, and now has to find another one,” the mayor said: “Mr. Ponta’s conclusion is for the short term. We are talking for the longer term and we will see how things turn out. (…) Nobody lost and I won’t have any problem. I warn him. I believe he will have bigger problems given what he does with the government and with this Interior Minister (Gabriel Oprea – editor’s note), who is the most corrupt man in Romania. People should look at ANRP, at what the Interior Minister did at ANRP. I know that for these people I am the right man for them to make an event out of,” Marian Vanghelie added.

Likewise, asked about the information according to which the National Integrity Agency (ANI) allegedly denounced him at the DNA because according to ANI’s analysis Marian Vanghelie cannot justify the sum of USD 1 M that appears in his wealth statement, the mayor pointed out that he won the lawsuit with ANI and launched an attack against the head of that institution.

“Ask the relevant bodies to verify when ANI’s Georgescu was in the office of Ponta’s advisor, when they talked about against whom to start the files and criminal prosecution. So I could relay this to Mr. Georgescu who opens lawsuits against me,” the District 5 Mayor stated.

“They were deciding on the cases against Romanian MPs that they want to exclude from Parliament,” the mayor added.

 

Mircea Geoana on political project with Vanghelie: “The party moves forward”

 

Independent Senator Mircea Geoana, one of the politicians with which the District 5 Mayor wants to split PSD and form a new party (the Romanian Social Party – PSRO), does not want to comment on what his ally is going through at this moment. “The party moves forward. It will be called the Romanian Social Party, PSRO!” a source close to Mircea Geoana stated.

 

Victor Ponta on searches at District 5 Mayoralty: “Mrs. Gorghiu has lost her main ally”

 

Premier Victor Ponta, the President of PSD, believes that the District 5 Mayor’s legal problems will create problems for the Liberals who are trying to change the parliamentary majority with the help of the group coalesced around Mircea Geoana and Marian Vanghelie.

“I don’t know and I can’t comment on criminal cases. Strictly politically speaking, I believe Mrs. Gorghiu has lost her main ally, Mr. Vanghelie, and now she has to look for another one,” Victor Ponta said when asked by journalists for his opinion about the searches that targeted the home of Marian Vanghelie and the District 5 Mayoralty.

In reply, PNL representatives state that they are negotiating the governing program with every MP, having invited for talks all parliamentary parties that could vote in favour of toppling the Ponta Government, and that Marian Vanghelie’s problems do not affect them.

 

Vanghelie: ‘This is Romania of denouncements’

 

Bucharest’s District 5 Mayor Marian Vanghelie spent the night in the arrest, waiting to be taken to court by National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) prosecutors for a 30-day preventive custody pending trial.

Upon leaving the DNA offices under escort to the Bucharest Police detaining facilities, Vanghelie declared: ‘This is Romania of denouncements.’

Four other people among the mayor’s acquaintances and relatives were also taken into police custody in the same case.

 

 

 

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