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April 14, 2021
JUSTICE

Erasure of Rompetrol’s debt, in the limelight again: A new file on the prosecutors’ table?

According to an article published by EurActiv.ro, ex-premier Victor Ponta is allegedly targeted by a National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) investigation into the way Kazakhstan’s KazMunayGas was exempted from the payment of USD 600 M, representing Rompetrol’s historical debt. The exemption was implemented by a government decision that Ponta had signed. The article also points out that: “DNA prosecutors have confiscated documents concerning the memorandum of understanding with KazMunayGas, according to government sources.”

In January 2014, Victor Ponta signed a government decision that adopted a memorandum of understanding with KazMunayGas, after the Constitutional Court ruled against the validation of the said memorandum.

Prosecutors see as suspicious the frequent visits that Ponta paid to Turkey after signing the memorandum with KazMunayGas, but also the fact that during those visits the ex-premier was using a Turkish phone card for private conversations, Euractiv.ro informs.

“The memorandum that is now being allegedly investigated by anticorruption prosecutors is the consequence of a series of political decisions adopted since 2000. Dinu Patriciu bought the Petromidia refinery from the state, at a low price, on condition he would pay a debt of over USD 600 M. Meanwhile, the Nastase Government turned the debt into shares, Rompetrol was taken over by KazMunayGas and the state only recovered USD 70 M. The Ponta Government then put an end to the lawsuit that the state had started in order to recover the debt,” Digi24 informs.

 

Ex-PM Ponta: This time, I’m not the stake

 

In a posting on Faceook on Wednesday evening, ex-Premier Victor Ponta reacted to the allegations that the DNA is looking into the way in which the state erased Rompetrol’s debt.

“I kept wondering today why the whole Propaganda of the Securitate has suddenly reheated the broth about me being investigated for the erasure of Rompetrol’s debt?”

“Am I so important as to make up things that are obviously completely idiotic – that we allegedly erased some debt, although the law and the government decision says clearly that we are talking about the sale of state-owned shares; or that I was negotiating in Turkey in 2015, after the surgery, the memorandum signed in 2013; or that the Ponta Government erased the debts that no longer existed since 2010 – this being the reason why DIICOT actually indicted some former ministers. The most comical thing is the mention of Erdogan’s “ranch” which I visited, as if it was George Bush Jr.’s, and Turkey and Texas (or Ankara and Astana) are the same thing!??”

“No, this time I’m not the stake, the stake is the fact that CEFC (the largest private company in China, which has investments of tens of billions throughout the world) wanted to buy Kazmunaygas (including Rompetrol) and to invest over 2 billion in our poor Romania, building a regional energy hub here!”

“And the Securitate (through their overt Propaganda) do not want any investments made in Romania other than those they completely control! So we are talking about money and politics! And Romania will stand to lose!” Victor Ponta wrote on Facebook.

 

Iolu: We cannot comment on specific cases; as a general practice the Gov’t responds to requests from Prosecutor’s Offices

 

The Government is promptly responding to requests received from Prosecutor’s Offices, Government Spokesperson Liviu Iolu stated when asked if the Government had received from the DNA a request concerning information on the memorandum that ex-premier Victor Ponta signed with KazMunayGas.

“We cannot comment on specific cases, but, as a general practice, the Government promptly responds to the requests that come from Prosecutor’s Offices. It’s not a political matter for me to detail here, it’s a technical matter between institutions. (…) The Government’s General Secretariat responds to any request. (…) It’s a technical matter between the GGS and the Prosecutor’s Offices,” Iolu pointed out.

On the other hand, queried by Agerpres, DNA officials stated they do not confirm that there is a case in progress.

 

PNL’s Paul: Rompetrol case is the symbol of PSD government’s failure

 

The Rompetrol case is the symbol of PSD government’s failure, of PSD’s controversial transactions carried out under the “wand” of Nastase and Ponta, PNL First Vice President Andreea Paul stated.

In a communique, she pointed out that she made 25 public and parliamentary statements about the Rompetrol III case file, which appears to be handled by the DNA.

PNL’s Lower Chamber lawmaker is asking for answers to several questions, including the Romanian state’s failure to recover Rompetrol Group’s debt of almost USD 600 M, which is equivalent to the total damage caused by corruption unveiled by the DNA in 2015.

“Why aren’t Romanians benefitting from a single Euro from these debts, from a single Euro from the EUR 1 bln investment fund that the PSD Government and Rompetrol promised, from a single new job promised by the memorandum that Victor Ponta signed in February 2013? The Rompetrol case is the symbol of the failure of PSD’s government, of PSD’s controversial and unconstitutional transactions which started in 2003 during the Nastase government and ended with Ponta’s memorandum in 2013,” Andreea Paul added.

She pointed out that the Memorandum of Understanding that the Romanian state and Rompetrol Group concluded, signed by Victor Ponta, had clauses unworkable from the start and asked who is responsible for the fact that this document put an end to the litigations between the Finance Ministry and Rompetrol Group.

PNL’s Lower Chamber lawmaker added that the Liberals have asked for the setting up of a parliamentary commission of inquiry since mid-2015 but have never received an approval from the Lower Chamber dominated by PSD. Paul claims that this commission of inquiry would have verified the way in which the Ponta Government defended national interests in relation to the recovery of the debt of almost USD 600 M owed by Rompetrol.

“Why didn’t Premier Ponta save Oltchim and an entire city – Ramnicu Valcea –, being known that it has a strategic location and that had the USD 600 M debt been collected from Rompetrol it would have been enough to save Oltchim?” the PNL First Vice President concluded.

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