Former Prime Minister Victor Ponta has said on Wednesday he will challenge the decision of Anti-Corruption Directorate prosecutors to place him under court supervision with the Supreme Court.
“The decision of the prosecutors was that ‘I am forbidden to make statements to the media about the object of the case or comment on the prosecutors building the case, other people involved in the case or the witnesses heard in the case.’ That is what I will challenge tomorrow before the Supreme Court judges! After their decision, I will be able to voice my opinion and prove my innocence!” Ponta wrote Tuesday in a Facebook post.
He also insisted that nobody accuses him of having received “220,000 euros (or any other amount)!”
Victor Ponta probed in new legal case concerning the 2012 elections campaign and Tony Blair’s visit
Prosecutors with the Ploiesti National Anti-Corruption Directorate (DNA) on Tuesday placed former Prime Minister Victor Ponta under 60-day court supervision in a case in which he was heard the same day for almost one and a half hour.
DNA says in a press statement that Ponta is prosecuted in a new case for the use of influence or authority for ill-gotten gains for self or others and for being an accomplice to money laundering.
It claims that Ponta used his authority to get confirmation of a businessman running for a seat in Parliament in a constituency that would guarantee successful running.
“In order to designate a businessman a candidate on the lists of a political party in a constituency where the political party was sure to win, Ponta Victor Viorel, in his capacity as national leader of the party in question, used his authority to win confirmation of the recommendation for that businessman to get on the lists,” says DNA.
The confirmation was sought by Ponta in order to get ill-gotten gains, namely 220,000 Euros needed to prepare a visit to Romania by a foreign personality.
“What was being sought was that by touting a meeting with the internationally acclaimed personality, Ponta Victor Viorel would gain electoral capital in the context of 2012 elections, as local and parliamentary elections were to be held. The 220,000 Euros were obtained through intermediaries from the businessman placed on an eligible position on the lists,” says DNA.
The misdeed was allegedly conducted via a non-profit, non-political organisation to create the impression that the visit of the former foreign leader was not a party initiative, so that the public opinion might think that the meeting of the foreign dignitary with Ponta happened at the former’s initiative.
“To this end, Ponta Victor Viorel and the businessman asked the leader of the non-profit organisation to find a way for the foreign politician to be invited to Romania without the public knowing that the initiative originated with Ponta Victor Viorel, and for the related payment to be covered by the businessman via intermediaries. In order to conceal the dubious provenance of the amount of 220,000 Euros, defendant Ponta Victor Viorel, conniving with the businessman, accepted to successively conclude two agreements,” the prosecutors argue.
They allege that upon receipt of the 220,000-Euro amount, the businessman was confirmed by Ponta, the party leader, a candidate of his party in a constituency of Prahova County.
The businessman successfully ran for a seat in Romania’s Chamber of Deputies.
According to judicial sources, the aforementioned businessman is Sebastian Ghita, who became MP in a constituency in Prahova. On Tuesday morning, while he showed up at the High Court of Justice (ICCJ), Ghita admitted he had been summoned at DNA Ploiesti too.
During the 60-day court supervision, Ponta is forbidden to leave the country without the approval of the supervising prosecutor/judge, to get near to or communicate with certain persons as well as to make statements to the media about the object of the case or comment on the prosecutors building the case, other people involved in the case or the witnesses heard in the case.
The DNA prosecutors point out that there has been a practice in Romania’s politics of late involving financially wealthy people winning easy access to elective public offices by being promoted by political party leaders for the direct purpose of securing illegal funding of political parties during electioneering.
“Given that the law of political parties and successive electoral laws expressly state the funding of political parties and election campaigns, this fraudulent mechanism is able to seriously damage the idea of democracy, which ab initio entails persons vying for public offices being elected by the people according to the principle of representation, along professional performance and probity lines. Virtually any payment violating this principle is ill-gotten gain because getting a place on the tickets in a constituency guaranteeing success is conditional upon the payment being made,” DNA adds.
Victor Ponta and Tony Blair, a financial not just political link
The information included in the latest legal case in which Victor Ponta is being probed, a case in which he has been remanded under court supervision alongside Sebastian Ghita, invoke a meeting between Victor Ponta and Tony Blair which was allegedly sponsored by Ghita with the sum of 200,000 Euros.
The meeting mentioned in the case file handled by DNA Ploiesti took place in Johannesburg, in December 2013, at the funeral of Nelson Mandela.
Information about the Ponta-Blair meeting was posted by the former Social Democrat Premier on his Facebook account back at the time, where he also announced that United Kingdom’s ex-premier also brokered for him a 15-minute meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama.
The meeting took place on 13 December 2013, in Johannesburg, where world leaders paid their respects to the late Nelson Mandela. Traian Basescu, President of Romania at the time, was absent from the ceremony.
At that time, Traian Basescu stated that he was not present at the funeral of Nelson Mandela because he did not have sufficient funds in his budget. That was a time when the Presidency’s expenses were being severely curtailed by the Parliament and Government.
Also on that day, December 13, the so-called Black Tuesday was taking place in Bucharest, namely PSD’s attempt to bring important changes to the Penal Code.
Victor Ponta had repeatedly stated that Tony Blair, the former Labour leader, was his model in politics. Up until 2013, Blair had met Ponta twice in Bucharest. Press articles from that time quote Ponta saying that United Kingdom’s former Labour Premier was his model in politics and cover how the mentor visited his disciple at the government headquarters and how they had dinner close to the headquarters of PSD, a party that was back then led by the one who is currently remanded under court supervision.
United Kingdom’s ex-premier has caught the eye of the British press, which wrote about the consultancy that the ex-premier offers his clients, being thought that it has resulted in revenues of 15 million British Pounds in a single year. Thus, The Telegraph wrote that Blair, who owns the Government Advisory Practice consultancy company, travelled to Bucharest at least twice in order to meet Ponta.
In his turn, in October that same year, Ponta stated that Romania is getting ready to enter Blair’s Global Network of Delivery Leaders which plans to help its members to improve services such as education, health and constructions. Blair misses no opportunity to make new friends and to expand his already large network of contracts. Thus it should come as no surprise that even at the commemorative ceremony for Nelson Mandela he introduced a potential client to Barack Obama, the British daily wrote.
According to Digi 24, Tony Blair was hired by Kazakhstan to represent the interests of Kaz Munay Gas, by the World Bank, and his law firm, one of the best-paid in London, was also hired by RMGC.
Sebastian Ghita, who is close to Victor Ponta and who, according to DNA prosecutors, allegedly gave Victor Ponta 220,000 Euros, has been listed as a sponsor of the former Romanian premier in several journalistic investigations. Ghita is not only the friend alongside whom Ponta spent his vacations in Dubai. Ghita is also listed as the sponsor of political PR contracts that Victor Ponta benefitted from in the elections campaign of 2014, when he ran for president. According to Sorina Matei’s blog, Ghita paid a Euro 300,000 contract that Ponta concluded with Podesta, one of the largest political communication and consultancy companies. “Based on the confidential contract it concluded with Federal Media Partner, as shown by the U.S. Department of Justice website, Podesta Group received 300,000 US Dollars from Ploiesti-based Federal Media Partner, in return for strategic consultancy services rendered from 25 August to 24 October 2014, with the option to extend the contract to 24 November 2014,” the aforementioned source shows.
Sebastian Ghita on the new case: “Tony Blair’s name is mentioned”
After the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) Ploiesti subpoenaed him in a new corruption case alongside Victor Ponta, Sebastian Ghita stated that Tony Blair’s name is mentioned in the case file. He went on to joke with the journalists on this topic. “It’s no joke, this is the truth,” he added.
“I don’t know the exact charges, but I know that the name of United Kingdom’s ex-premier Tony Blair is mentioned in this case file. We will see exactly what this is about,” Sebastian Ghita stated at the Supreme Court of Justice.
He pointed out he had to show up at DNA Ploiesti too, where Victor Ponta had already arrived at 11 a.m. The ex-premier showed up at DNA Ploiesti before too, in April, back when he was subpoenaed in one of the cases in which Sebastian Ghita is involved.
Ghita added that he had not been informed of his capacity in the case, but “considering how I saw the elite unit opening cases, I hope we won’t end up being asked about the meeting between Ponta, Blair and Obama in South Africa.”
“I don’t believe any kind of corruption is involved. I believe we are very restrictive in what concerns the way in which we perceive our activities and if we interpret anything in life as being corruption then we will have case files. Soon enough any sale, of a car or of a house, can become ‘corruption that kills’ based on a small arranged denunciation,” he added.
Former British Premier Tony Blair attended a conference organised by PSD in March 2012.