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November 13, 2019
POLITICS

Victor Ponta: “I’ll talk from now on. Have a little patience”

Placed under court supervision, ex-Premier Victor Pona showed up at Precinct 6 on Monday. He stated he will “state the truth.”

“From now on I’ll talk. The truth, exactly what I said in court. Today, have a little patience, today. That’s what I’m doing, I’m writing. Thank you,” Victor Ponta stated on leaving Police Precinct 6.

Judges have recently lifted the ban on Ponta publicly talking about the new case in which he is being probed, but have upheld the conditional bail sought by prosecutors.

Prosecutors accuse Victor Ponta of money laundering and of using his political influence for illegal purposes. Investigators say he allegedly received almost a quarter of a million Euros from Sebastian Ghita, in return for including the latter on the party’s lists within the PSD Prahova branch. With the money thus obtained, he allegedly paid former British Premier Tony Blair’s visit to Romania, in order to associate his image with the British politician’s and thus gain political capital.

 

New revelations. How Ghita’s money was used to present Ponta to the foreign press

 

A company controlled by Sebastian Ghita paid an American lobbying company 300,000 Euros to promote Victor Ponta during the presidential elections campaign in 2014, money that were not declared by PSD, Hotnews informs. Two days before the presidential runoff, Podesta Group recommended itself as working for Victor Ponta’s campaign and sent dozens of emails to the most prestigious media institutions in the world, according to a Hotnews investigation. In the emails, Ponta was presented as being pro-American.

Federal Media Partner SRL, the company controlled by Sebastian Ghita, was not listed among the legal persons that offered PSD large campaign contributions in 2014. Political parties are forced by law to publish in the Official Gazette the names of the natural or legal persons whose campaign contributions surpass the level of 10 gross minimum salaries.

Federal Media Partner is listed among the companies suspected of engaging in money laundering.

The existence of the USD 300,000 contract between Podesta Group and Federal Media Partner SRL was revealed by journalist Sorina Matei in November 2014, after the document appeared on the U.S. Department of Justice website.

 

“American analysis: Ponta is in fact defending democracy!”

 

The contract between the two companies came into force on 24 August 2014 and expired on October 24 that year. The contract stipulated that the services would be rendered from August 25 to October 24, with the option to extend that period by one month. According to the supplementary statement offered by the American company, the contract was extended and expired on 21 November 2014., when the Romanian Constitutional Court validated the results of the elections, which saw Klaus Iohannis becoming President.

Likewise, Hotnews shows that, according to a statement made by the American company, the company controlled by Sebastian Ghita contracted the services for a third party, not for itself.

A supplementary statement made by Podesta Group, discovered by Hotnews, offers details about the services the company provided to Victor Ponta in the 2014 elections campaign.

The list of persons contacted by the American lobbyists includes dozens of journalists from press agencies such as Reuters, Associated Press, Bloomberg, BBC, CNN, Al Jazeera, AFP, New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Politico. In some of the emails, Will Bohen recommended himself as an employee of Victor Ponta, as part of Podesta Group, and presented Ponta as being a pro-Western politician who supports the sanctions adopted against Russia following the annexation of Crimea. Moreover, Victor Ponta was expressing his openness, through Podesta Group, to hosting the NATO missile shield in Romania. Most emails were sent on November 14-15, two days before the presidential runoff.

Podesta Group was established in 1998 by John and Tony Podesta. John Podesta is currently Hillary Clinton’s campaign chief. He founded the Centre for American Progress in 2003 and led it until 2011. John Podesta continues to be a member of CAP’s Board. The CAP was one of the two organisations that handled the organising of former British Premier Tony Blair’s visit to Romania.

In the summer of 2012, when the overtures to impeach President Traian Basescu started, John Podesta, the founder of Podesta Group and Barack Obama’s current advisor, published an analysis on Romania. In it, he pointed out that Victor Ponta is defending democracy through his actions.

“The claims expressed in The Washington Post or The Economist, claims that Prime Minister Ponta has undermined democracy and threatened the nation’s economic stability are not simply mistaken, they are also wilfully misleading. A closer analysis of the impeached president’s past record and recent actions, as well as recent Constitutional Court rulings on the affair, suggest that the prime minister is defending democracy, not subverting it,” reads John Podesta’s analysis, titled “American analysis: Ponta is in fact defending democracy” and published by the Centre for American Progress. The analysis can no longer be found on the organisation’s website.

 

Political parties obligated by law to report campaign contributions

 

The contract is not listed among Victor Ponta’s campaign expenditures in 2014. The 300,000 Dollars are not included in the Standing Electoral Authority’s report. Instead, the sum of 483,488 Lei is listed under the heading “services,” as expenditures incurred by Victor Ponta. Likewise, PSD’s list of campaign contributions from legal persons in 2014, published in the Official Gazette on 1 April 2015, does not include Federal Media Partner SRL.

The company controlled by Sebastian Ghita could not have offered campaign services free of charge either, since the electoral law forces parties to publish in the Official Gazette the names of natural or legal persons whose donations surpassed the level of 10 gross minimum salaries.

“Political parties are not allowed to accept in any form, directly or indirectly, campaign contributions – assets or cash – or the rendering of free services with the obvious purpose of obtaining an economic or political advantage or in violation of the stipulations of Paragraph 8,” Article 5 of the law reads.

 

Sebastian Ghita’s reaction

 

Contacted by Hotnews, Sebastian Ghita denied any connections with the American lobbying company.

“I don’t have details on the links between Podesta and Ponta and I don’t have details on the public relations campaign carried out by Podesta. I understand that John Podesta is Hillary Clinton’s campaign chief,” Sebastian Ghita said.

Asked whether he knew that Federal Media Partner paid Podesta Group 300,000 Dollars, Sebastian Ghita answered negatively.

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