Victor Ponta posted on Facebook a message in which he reveals his point of view on the “Blair Scandal” in which DNA Ploiesti placed him under court supervision.
“The truth about the “Blair Scandal” – how things really were!
Bearing in mind the High Court of Justice judges’ decision, I have the right to publicly express my point of view on DNA Ploiesti’s public accusations.
I will sum-up everything I stated before ICCJ judges in court – I don’t think trials are or should be made public on television or the press; but when you’re publicly accused you have to answer publicly – this way people can form their own opinion; even when you know you are innocent both the judges’ decision and the people’s opinion are just as important.
- Let’s start off with the accusations and my position toward them.
I have NEVER asked for any sum of money, not for me and not for PSD, from ANY person in return for that person to be a candidate! In the almost 6 years I spent as PSD leader I signed lists of candidacies for thousands of city halls, local and county councils; for hundreds of seats in Parliament; for dozens of seats in the European Parliament! In a country where all public persons know each other and are talking, nobody has ever accused me of such a thing! It’s not only an unjust accusation but also one that defaces my political image, and the case file contains no evidence pointing to the aforementioned crime!
Prosecutors also state that following Tony Blair’s March 26 visit, I “obtained non-patrimonial benefits consisting of PR gains”. I recall that there was no election campaign in March 2012 and I ran in December in a Gorj County constituency that I had won back in 2008 too and where PSD always enjoyed consistent electoral support, and that USL had a huge lead in opinion polls.
I am also accused of “moral complicity” to money laundering! The sum of EUR 220,000, which prosecutors claim was donated to various legal persons in the United Kingdom, was never in my or PSD’s possession; nor did I use or benefit from a single Euro from it; I never knew (until 6 September 2016) the amount of money, who paid them and who benefitted from them! Consequently, all the documents included in the case file clearly show that I cannot be an accomplice (not even “morally”) to the laundering of money I knew nothing about and I never owned, money paid – by a company I never heard of – to British companies and foundations I do not know!
No evidence included in the case file shows that the money for donations are the proceeds of some crime, or that the organisers and beneficiaries had knowledge or reasonable suspicions that these were “dirty” money.
I had a single talk on the topic of that money with Mr. Dan Sultanescu, at the moment when the press published the fact that his foundation was using European grants for Tony Blair’s visit. Dan Sultanescu assured me that the money used did not come from European grants or public funds, being just “private donations,” something which he officially pointed out in a statement to the press.
- On inviting Tony Blair to Romania
This was done at the initiative of Ms. Ana Birchall – back then PSD’s International Secretary (who later became Lower Chamber MP following the December 2012 elections).
Ms. Birchall contacted Tony Blair’s Office through a British friend (former colleague) – Matt Browne – and the invitation was transmitted through a U.S. foundation – the Centre for American Progress. Subsequently, the British Ambassador to Romania and Dan Sultanescu’s Multimedia Foundation (which was chosen because it had previously collaborated with the UK Embassy and with the PSD as well) were co-opted in organising the visit to Romania.
The schedule of the visit included a meeting with Prime Minister Mihai Razvan Ungureanu at the Government headquarters (although I didn’t like that, I was not in the position to change the schedule), a meeting at the Embassy, the conferring of the Doctor Honoris Cause title at the Romanian-American University, followed by a speech given there.
My involvement in this visit consisted in meeting Mr. Blair at the PSD headquarters and a brief statement at the opening of the speech given at the Romanian-American University. Mr. Emil Hurezeanu was the host and personalities from the highest level of Romanian public life were invited.
Since this concerned a personality like Tony Blair and in order to lower the organisers’ costs, I agreed that persons who were working for me at PSD should help out the organisers.
The only aspect Ms. Birchall informed me about in what concerned the expenditures was the fact that Mr. Blair did not request a fee but encouraged the Romanian organisers to make a donation to a charity foundation that he indicated. Since PSD’s money were not involved, I did not ask for details nor did I get involved in this aspect in any way.
All negotiations over the schedule of the visit and the donations were carried out directly by Ms. Ana Birchall with Mr. Blair’s office in London, with the two Foundations that organised the event (Centre for American Progress and Multimedia Foundation) and with the British Embassy in Bucharest.
I found out for the first time about the sum donated, the company that donated it and the beneficiary from the documents included in the addenda to the criminal case file handled by DNA Ploiesti.
- On Sebastian Ghita’s candidacy in the 2012 elections
I have a well-known relationship of friendship with Sebastian Ghita (for example we spent the New Year’s in Vienna in 2011/2012, as pointed out by the mass-media too)!
Bearing in mind this relationship, the statement that I “used my authority as PSD President” is obviously a speculation that I can disprove with witnesses that know the real relations between us.
The fact that I promised Sebastian Ghita, in March 2012, that he will be “on an eligible place on the lists” for the parliamentary elections is completely untrue and illogical for the following reasons:
- I did not discuss with ANYONE about the candidacy in the parliamentary elections until after the local elections which took place on June 10 – on that occasion many MPs were elected mayors (the case of Senator Iulian Badescu who became Ploiesti Mayor) and vacated their seats in Parliament;
- There were no party lists in 2012, there were uninominal constituencies (where each candidate had to win over 50 percent of the votes);
- PSD did not run in the elections as a party but in the USL formula – the party presidents of PNL, UNPR, PC and PSD signed off the candidacies;
- The constituencies were allocated to USL’s each member party only on September 15, after the meeting in Murighiol (not in March)!
- The nominated candidates were voted within local branches and then within PSD’s county branches (in this case PSD Prahova); the candidacies were [then] sent by the county branches to Secretary General Liviu Dragnea, who put them up for vote within the party’s National Executive Committee!
- I did not take part or vote in any county branch assembly except the Gorj County branch whose member I am;
- Sebastian Ghita DID NOT NEED my support in order to run in Prahova; he has been a member of that party branch since 2002; he had a well-known close relationship with party branch president Mircea Cosma and with Ploiesti Mayor Iulian Badescu; he actively took part in the local elections campaign, thus securing the local mayors’ and party members’ support;
- In fact, the DNA opened in April a criminal probe into the way in which local PSD Prahova leaders exercised their authority and influence to nominate him as candidate in the parliamentary elections, in return for his material support in the local elections campaign!!!
- So who put Ghita on the lists after all?!? I know the answer – he himself did, with the support of PSD Prahova members who voted for him and of the members of his constituency, over 60 percent of whom voted for him;
- On the conditional bail set by prosecutors
Ever since I showed up at the Prosecutor’s Office I said I do not intend to contact the other defendants or witnesses in this case in order to avoid creating suspicions that I seek to influence them.
However, I demanded explanations for the ban on making public statements (considering that DNA issued an official communique containing the accusations and information was also “leaked”) and leaving the country (despite the fact that I informed the prosecutor and subsequently filed documents proving that I have confirmed my presence at various international events and I am the honorary advisor of a European Prime Minister).
On September 6, the grounds for this suspension of rights measure were not presented to me nor subsequently to the High Court of Justice, the judge revoking it as a result.
However, the case file contains, in the addenda, PSD’s Code of Ethics, which stipulates that those remanded on conditional bail are banned from running for office; however, I considered that this conditional bail cannot have a political purpose, nor can it limit my constitutional right to run for office.
These were the things I stated before High Court of Justice judges, and which I wanted to publicly reveal (both for those who support and trust me and for those who, despite the fact that they are opponents or dislike me, believe in democratic principles and in our fundamental rights)!
Of course, if asked by magistrates, party colleagues or the mass-media, I am ready to present other relevant aspects concerning this case, aspects that jeopardise not only PSD’s interests but also Romania’s image before our Western partners!
I will continue to show up before judges with full confidence, with a clean conscience and fully convinced of my innocence!” Victor Ponta wrote on Facebook.