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December 7, 2021

Ex-PM Ponta heard at Ploiesti-based DNA as witness in criminal case of his brother-in-law

Former Prime Minister Victor Ponta on Thursday arrived at the National Anti-Corruption Directorate (DNA) offices based in Ploiesti, where he was summoned to appear as a witness in the case of his brother-in-law Iulian Hertanu.

According to judicial sources, Ponta will be heard by the prosecutors with respect to a project on EU funds conducted at Comarnic, Prahova county and also regarding the financing of his presidential election campaign carried out in the Republic of Moldova.

The ex-premier made no remarks for the reporters on entering the DNA headquarters.

Ponta stayed there for one hour. Upon leaving the building, he said he was summoned as a witness and he answered to the prosecution’s questions.

Investigation in Hertanu file began in this February, when the DNA Ploiesti prosecutors decided to launch a criminal case against the brother-in-law of then-prime minister as well as against several other persons, among whom MPs Sebastian Ghita and Vlad Cosma, Prahova County Council Chairman Mircea Cosma and staff of SC Hidro Prahova, the company by which the EU funded project being inquired into is being conducted.

The anti-corruption body said that over 2011 – 2015 Hertanu, as an administrator of SC Grossman Engineering Group SRL and an employee of CVR Asfalt Construct Group SRL, Vladimir Ciorba – an administrator/ associate at CVR Asfalt Construct Group SRL and CVR Activities Group SRL based in Bucharest and at SC Gefam Pro SRL and Mihail Coman – an administrator/ associate at SC Indserv SRL Ploiesti and SC Indserv Proiect SRL Ploiesti and an employee of SC Hidro Prahova SA (as an advisor to the managing director) set up a criminal group to act with a view to fraudulently gaining a works contract mainly funded by EU funds and to illegally getting important amounts of money, by changing the destination of the funds obtained as part of the EU-funded project in violation of the legal provisions.

Furthermore, they allegedly sought to avoid paying the contributions owed to the state by highlighting false spending or fictitious operations in the documents of the companies they controlled.

The investigators show that the organised crime group members embezzled from the sewerage project, and appropriated in their own benefit, the total amount of 7,797,410 lei (money collected in cash from accounts of natural and legal entities, representing approximately 54 percent of the total amounts identified as having been paid by SC Grossman Engineering Group SRL to “the partners” who have allegedly subcontracted works); the circumvention from paying to the state, through evasion practices, the amount of 2,515,293 lei.

The contract on the extension of the sewerage network in the town of Comarnic was assigned by SC Hidro Prahova SA Ploiesti (a fully state-owned company, in which Prahova County Council is a majority shareholder) to the association of companies SC Grossman Engineering Group SRL – SC Euro Construct Trading 98 SRL, with the contract having been signed in Jan. 2012.

Comarnic works are part of a broader project financed by the European Union, amounting to roughly 200 million euros, Agerpres informs.

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