Prime Minister Victor Ponta on Wednesday showed up at the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA), as he had been summoned in a corruption case regarding the Rovinari-Turceni energy corporation.
Upon entering the DNA headquarters, Ponta confirmed that the expertise report in the case is completed. As for other statements, he said the case prosecutor will decide.
On July 13, Ponta was summoned to the DNA offices, where he was announced that a financial-accounting expertise had been ordered in the case and the seizure of Prime Minister Victor Ponta’s possessions – either real or securities – as a security measure in a criminal case launched against him on suspicions of forgery, accomplice to tax evasion and money laundering in his lawyer’s capacity.
Also then, the prosecutors changed the Prime Minister’s capacity in the case from a suspect to a defendant; Ponta used his right to remain silent, so he made no statement before the prosecutor.
“In this case, the prosecutors ordered the distress of the real assets and securities belonging to defendant Ponta Victor-Viorel. He was notified of the quality he has in this case in accordance with the provisions of Article 309 of the Criminal Procedure Code”, the DNA said in a release to Agerpres.
According to a DNA press statement, the prosecutors extended investigations against Dan Sova, Lead Attorney with Civil Litigations Attorneys Firm “Sova and Partners” for forging private documents (17 counts), repeated tax evasion and money laundering.
DNA stated that on Aug 30, 2007, the Civil Litigations Attorneys Firm “Sova and Partners” represented by Dan Sova, and the private practice law firm “Ponta Victor-Viorel”, represented by Victor Ponta, concluded a convention on the parties’ professional cooperation on criminal cases, on criminal business law, and in other cases where needed.
“In October 2007 – December 2008, Victor Ponta forged 17 invoices mentioning untrue circumstances under which he claimed he had provided legal services under the cooperation convention signed with Civil Litigations Attorneys Firm ‘Sova and Partners’. Each invoice was cashed after release and registration with the accounting service of both the private law practice and the attorneys firm. For the alleged co-work activities carried out between October 2007 – December 2008, Sova and Partners’ paid the amount of 181,439.98 lei, the equivalent of the 17 invoices issued by Victor Ponta,” reads the release.
The original case involved Senator Dan Sova; both he and Ponta used to be lawyers.
Sova’s law firm provided legal counseling to the state-owned energy companies of Turceni and Rovinari and had an open-ended collaboration agreement with Ponta’s law firm in 2008, for a monthly fee of 2,000 euros to be invoiced monthly by the latter, the prosecutors detailed.
The sum later increased to 3,000 euros per month, and the collaboration ended in December 2008, when Ponta became Prime Minister. By then, he had issued 17 invoices to Sova for 181.439,98 lei, copying the model used by Sova’s firm.
The prosecutors alleged that Ponta’s legal practice never actually rendered any services to Sova’s, who used most of the money from the two energy companies for himself and his acquaintances.
Ponta allegedly used some of the money from Sova to buy two luxury apartments in Bucharest, and also received other benefits, including the free use of a car, for which the leasing instalments were still paid by Sova’s firm until 2009.
It was a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10 specifically asked for by Ponta, and he eventually took over the leasing contract without ever returning nearly 80,000 lei already paid for it by Sova & Associates.
In 2011, fiscal inspections began at Sova and Associates, and Sova allegedly agreed with Ponta to forge legal counselling reports to justify the payments to Ponta’s individual legal practice.
PM Ponta: I got the expertise report; I paid 2,000 lei more in taxes
Upon leaving the headquarters of the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) AFTER ABOUT 15 minutes, Prime Minister Victor Ponta said he was presented the results of the expertise in his case, saying that he paid 2,000 lei more in taxes, which he does not intend to claim back.
However, the expertise report in the Rovinari-Turceni case sustains the prosecution’s initial damage assessment, judiciary sources told Agerpres on Wednesday.
“Yes, they gave me the expertise [report]. I paid 2,000 lei more in taxes, but I will not claim the money back from the Romanian state,” Ponta said in reply to a question about expertise and damage.
“Now, I am standing very well on my two feet,” Ponta added ironically.
He said he will make statements when called upon by the prosecutor with his layer. “I will make statements when summoned by the prosecutor with my lawyer,” he said.
Asked about his talks with President Klaus Iohannis, Ponta said politics is done elsewhere, not at the DNA.