Bucharest’s General Mayor Sorin Oprescu remanded in custody by anticorruption prosecutors

Prosecutors with the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) have remanded in custody Bucharest General Mayor Sorin Oprescu, after he was caught red-handed receiving money constituting a bribe.

He will be brought, on Sunday, to the Bucharest Tribunal, with a proposal for preventive arrest for 30 days.

According to a release of the DNA, during 2013-2015, a well organized group, to which Sorin Oprescu adhered, established in the local administration of the City of Bucharest a system through which economic operators wishing to receive contracts from public institutions under the command of the Mayor had to remit part of the profit before tax that was a result of those contracts, as bribes, to some stakeholders of the public apparatus.

“As such, the contractor kept for himself between 30 pct and 33 pct of the gross profit, and the difference was remitted to public servants in the Bucharest City mayoralty, as bribes, 10 percent of the contract’s value being requested for Oprescu. Concretely, the members of the group, persons with leadership positions in two public institutions under the command of the Mayor of Bucharest facilitated the winning of the contract, would speak to employees to accept the documentation to accept the documentation attributing the contract, as well as approve and mandate the paying of bills issued by the respective companies, very quickly after the bills were issued, and at the same time request sums of money for persons in leadership positions in the Bucharest City Mayor apparatus, as well as for the Mayor,” the prosecutors claim.

DNA mentions that, on Saturday, following a previous agreement with the leader of a public institution subordinated to him and a confidant of the mayor, Sorin Oprescu, received from the first 25,000 euro of the total 60,000 euro claimed by the former from four denouncers for the Bucharest City Mayor.

In the case, prosecutors benefit from specialty support rendered by the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI).

DNA searches in 13 locations, among which Bucharest Mayoralty, Cemetery Administration and a cultural center

DNA prosecutors have conducted on Sunday searches at three public institutions – the Bucharest City Hall, the Cemetery Administration and the Cultural Center for Brancovian Palaces at the Gates of Bucharest, in the case that saw the remand of Bucharest General Mayor Sorin Oprescu, said sources in the judiciary for Agerpres.

The prosecutors are also conducting searches at the mayor’s home and the homes of other persons.

“Prosecutors with the National Anticorruption Directorate – The Corruption Combating Department are conducting searches in a criminal case that regards suspicions regarding the committal of crimes of corruption between 2013-2015. On September 6, 2015, following the granting of legal authorizations from the competent court, searches are being conducted in 13 locations, situated in Bucharest City and the counties of Bacau, Calarasi, and Ilfov, three locations being public institutions, the rest representing the headquarters of some companies and the homes of individuals,” a DNA release posted on Sunday on the website of the institution shows.

Oprescu’s lawyer: On first analysis of case I can say DNA charges unfounded

Alexandru Chiciu, lawyer of Bucharest City Mayor Sorin Oprescu, states the charges tabled by the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) are unfounded and based on “assumptions” of some persons.

At the same time, he emphasizes that the National Anticorruption Directorate should’ve better clarified Oprescu’s case.

“It is premature to make statements at this moment. Please understand that we lawyers are trying to treat this case with balance and not fall in the trap of unfounded statements. Upon first analysis of the case, I can say that the DNA accusations are unfounded. They are based on ‘assumptions’ of some persons, an unacceptable fact in such a situation. My client mandated me to tell you he never requested money, directly or indirectly, through intermediaries, from no one. The money was not received from denouncers, and Mr. Oprescu did not know its provenance. It was the DNA’s duty to better clarify this case, not throw a man in arrest based on what other defendants said”, said Chiciu to the press.

Deputy Bucharest Mayor Pieptea: Oprescu’s mandate is suspended if preventive arrest is approved

The mandate of Bucharest’s General Mayor Sorin Oprescu will be suspended if the measure of preventive arrest is disposed in his case, said on Sunday for AGERPRES Deputy Mayor of Bucharest Cornel Pieptea.

“The General Mayor, Sorin Oprescu, was remanded for 24 hours, after these 24 hours the judiciary will have a decision. The judiciary must be left to work independently. If the mayor is released and he will be able to exercise his work prerogatives he will return to the City Hall. In case preventive arrest is disposed, in accordance with Law no. 215/2001, the Law for local public administration, the mayor’s mandate is suspended,” said Cornel Pieptea.

According to him, this administrative act is issued by the Prefect of the City of Bucharest. “After that the General Council will choose from one of the two deputy mayors currently in office to take over the prerogatives of the general mayor. If the decision is to release him and the mayor is considered innocent, he will return and will resume the position he has currently,” said the Deputy Mayor of the Capital.

In his opinion, Sorin Oprescu no longer has the legitimacy to occupy the position of Bucharest General Mayor. “I believe the general mayor once remanded for 24 hours no longer has the legitimacy to occupy this representative position of Bucharest and no longer has the strength to lead such a big City Hall. Let us not forget that the Bucharest City Hall, which has a budget of nearly 1 billion euro, serves 2 million residents,” Pieptea added.

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