Bucharest District 2 Mayor Neculai Ontanu spent the night of Wednesday to Thursday behind bars, after National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) prosecutors detained him and accused him of taking a EUR 4 M bribe. The secretary of District 2’s Local Council and lawyer Loredana Radu, niece of former Deputy Premier and Interior Minister Gabriel Oprea, were also arrested in the same case. Ontanu was taken before Bucharest Court of Appeals judges on Thursday, prosecutors asking for 30-day pre-trial arrest. Ontanu tried to persuade the judges to remand him on conditional bail. By the time this edition went to print, the judges were yet to reach a decision.
He was brought before the Bucharest Court of Appeal on Thursday to be placed under a 30-day pre-trial detention.
In the same case, built on a complaint from 2016, the prosecutors also ordered a continuation in the criminal investigation of Loredana-Claudia Radu, a lawyer with the Bucharest Bar, for being an accomplice to bribe taking and money laundering.
In a press statement released on Wednesday, DNA claims that in 2006 – 2007, Ontanu accepted a promise for material gains from an individual who was to receive court compensations in relation to litigious rights (the same who reported the mayor) to facilitate the reconstitution of ownership rights over several plots of land totalling 83,500 square metres located in Bucharest District 2, under Law 18/1991.
“After the release of the title deed, Ontanu received 1,500 square metres of land on Barbu Vacarescu Street that was transferred by the denouncer free of charge under fictitious sales agreements to suspect Radu and another person, the middlemen indicated by the mayor. Based on this request, two sales agreements were concluded at the same notary public on November 13, 2007 under which the ownership rights over 500 square metres of the total plot on Barbu Vacarescu Street were transformed to the said person, as well as over 1,000 square metres of the same land to suspect Radu,” says the DNA statement.
DNA also says the price provided for in the agreement with that person was 500 euros/square metre, meaning the minimum price in the guide of reference property prices drawn up by the National Union of Romania’s Notaries Public, meaning a total price of 250,000 euros.