Considered the biggest corruption trial in Romania, the ‘Microsoft’ case trial started on Monday, businessman Dorin Cocos, former minister Gabriel Sandu, businessman Nicolae Dumitru and suspended Piatra Neamt Mayor Gheorghe Stefan appearing before the Supreme Court judges. The four were arraigned for influence peddling and are currently under house arrest, but they hope that the court will decide to put them on trial without upholding the house arrest measure.
Prosecutors show that from 2004 to 2010 defendant Dumitru Nicolae received USD 7.65 M in 2004 and EUR 2.7 M in 2009 from two persons (who filed complaints), in exchange of influencing Romanian Government members, civil servants within ministries or persons that had influence over them – Serban Mihailescu, investigated in a disjoint case, former coordinating minister of the Government’s General Secretariat and a businessman with influence over members of the government in 2004; Cocos Dorin, person with influence over members of the Government in 2009 – in order to make sure the companies backed by the two persons that filed complaints would win and implement Microsoft licensing contracts.
Prosecutors claim that the sums of money demanded were transferred to the bank account of Running Total Group, a company belonging to Nicolae Dumitru, on the basis of consultancy contracts for fictitious commercial operations. Subsequently, the sums were wired in savings and investment accounts opened by the defendant, “without operations meant to hide the source of the money, their circuit or their real beneficiary.”
Investigators have established that Dorin Cocos received from the two persons who filed complaints the sum of EUR 9 M. Dorin Cocos is accused that in 2009 he asked from the same two persons the sum of EUR 9 M for himself, EUR 3,996,360 for Gheorghe Stefan and EUR 2.7 M for minister Gabriel Sandu, “all of this in order to exercise his influence over defendant Gabriel Sandu as well as over other persons within the Government, including minister Udrea Elena Gabriela, in order to make sure the companies backed by the persons filing the complaints would win the Microsoft licensing contract in 2009.”
In his turn, Gabriel Sandu is accused that as acting Communications and Information Society Minister he asked and received, in 2009, from the same denouncers, the sums of EUR 2,196,035 “in order to make sure the government decision is promoted, in order to make overtures in order to obtain the necessary budget, in order to facilitate for the companies backed by the denouncers the signing of the Microsoft licensing contract by exercising his influence over persons within the Government, namely over certain civil servants.” The sum was transferred, at this request, to the account of Essim Partners Ltd, a company he was controlling through a middleman, on the basis of consultancy contracts for fictitious commercial operations.
Also in 2009, a year in which he was mayor of Piatra Neamt and Vice President of PDL, a ruling party at the time, on the basis of a prior agreement with Dorin Cocos, Gheorghe Stefan “asked for and received from the two denouncers the sum of EUR 3,996,360 in order to exercise his influence over defendant Gabriel Sandu, in order to make sure the companies owned by the denouncers would win the Microsoft licensing contract in 2009.” The money was transferred to the account of DD Land Oil Corporate Ltd, which belonged to a person who was close to the defendant and who accepted to wire this sum through the account of his company, at the request of another person close to Gheorghe Stefan. National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) prosecutors have frozen some of the assets of defendants Nicolae Dumitru, Dorin Cocos and Gheorghe Stefan.