The High Court of Cassation and Justice (ICCJ, Romania’s Supreme Court) has scheduled for Monday its first session on the case of Prime Minister Victor Ponta, indicted on Thursday by the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA).
Ponta is charged of forgery of documents using the personal signature (17 offences), complicity to tax evasion through repeated acts and money laundering, committed as a lawyer and legal representative of the private legal practice ‘Ponta Victor-Viorel.’
Judge Cristina Rotaru, who initially got the case, requested on Thursday to abstain on grounds of incompatibility; the request was approved, the random allocation of the case was resumed, and another judge received the case.
Other defendants in the case are Senator Dan Sova, coordinating lawyer of the ‘Sova and Associates’ law firm, under court supervision; Laurentiu Ciurel, who was the General Director of the Rovinari Energy Company (CER) when the offences were committed; Dumitru Cristea, who was the General Director of the Turceni Energy Company (TER) when the offences were committed; and Octavian Laurentiu Graure, then Economic Director of TEC.
The prosecutors allege that Ponta received through his law firm 181,000 lei between October 2007 and December 2008 from Sova and Associates, for fictitious collaboration.
The DNA website mentions the following details:
On August 30 2007, the law firms Sova and Associates (represented by Sova) and Ponta Victor-Viorel signed an open-end agreement of collaboration in criminal cases, business criminal law, and other cases when necessary. Under the agreement, Ponta’s legal practice was to receive the fees, and Ponta was to invoice and get 2,000 euros monthly as a lawyer; this amount was later increased in minutes signed on October 29 2007 by 1,000 euros for that month, when Sova and Cristea concluded a legal assistance contract containing a success fee.
On March 27, 2008, the defendants signed an addendum to the agreement increasing the monthly amount for Ponta to 3,000 euros; the month before, REC and TEC had signed other contracts with Sova and Associates, including success fees.
The collaboration agreement was terminated in December 2008, when Ponta became prime minister. By then, he had issued 17 invoices worth 181,439.98 lei for the alleged collaboration; Sova and Associates acknowledged their receipt and made the payment, then entered them into its books. The sums cover expenses that were not based on real operation, as Ponta did not carry out any professional work under the agreement. Sova was the only individual authorized to decide on any actions involving the law firm.
The collaboration agreement was actually meant to reward Ponta for the contracts with REC and TEC obtained by Sova and Associates, as the companies’ management was persuaded that Sova had Ponta’s support.
Liberal co-chairs Gorghiu, Blaga to file censure motion on Monday
Also on Monday, the liberals are going to file a censure motion on the lack of credibility of Prime Minister Victor Ponta’s Government, the National Liberal Party (PNL) co-chairs Alina Gorghiu and Vasile Blaga have announced on Friday, at Poiana Brasov.
Gorghiu specified in a press conference, after the sitting of the PNL’s National Steering College that on Friday a political decision was gotten to file the motion.
“We have a prime minister indicted for corruption acts who refuses to resign. With Ponta as premier, Romania looks like a corruption-tolerating state,” Gorghiu asserted; she added that the national interest requires the premier’s resignation.