JUSTICE POLITICS

PM Ponta sent to Court by anti-corruption prosecutors

Prosecutors with the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) have sent Prime Minister Victor Ponta to court over criminal offences in the Rovinari-Turceni case.

In a press statement on Thursday, DNA says Ponta was sent to court over 17 counts of forgery in documents under private signature, complicity to continued tax evasion and money laundering, in his capacity as lawyer and legal representative of the Ponta Victor-Viorel individual law firm.

Also sent to court in the same case are Dan Sova (photo R), under court supervision, a coordinating lawyer at the Sova and Associates law firm; Laurentiu Ciurel, the director general of the Rovinari SA energy corporation back when the offences were committed; Dumitru Cristea, the director general of the Turceni energy corporation, back when the offences were committed, as well as Octavian Laurentiu Graure, an economic manager of Turceni corporation back when the offences were committed.

According to DNA, 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 said the amount of 181,439.98 lei, the equivalent of the 17 invoices issued by Victor Ponta.
The criminal investigation against Prime Minister Victor Ponta has been opened on June 5 . 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 2007, 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 allege 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.

According to DNA prosecutors, Ponta 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 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.

The Prime Minister’s conflict of interests ensued; he had unduly received from Sova around 250,000 lei and the use of a car, and later nominated him Minister for the liaison with the Parliament in August 2012, Minister-delegate for the infrastructure and foreign investments in December 2012, ad-interim Transportation Minister in February 2014, and Transportation Minister in March 2014. As these acts involved Ponta’s Premier office and he is also an MP, the procedures of notification of the Chamber of Deputies are underway, a DNA release concludes.

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