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January 24, 2022

Vasile Blaga denies taking 700,000 Euros to engage in influence peddling

Former National Liberal Party (PNL) Co-President Vasile Blaga stated on Wednesday, when leaving the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) offices, that he did not take 700,000 Euros to appoint certain persons at the helm of state-owned companies, and refused to reveal what he told the prosecutors who are probing him in an influence peddling case.

Vasile Blaga showed up at the DNA Ploiesti offices to be heard in the case in which he is being probed for influence peddling. Blaga resigned from the helm of PNL after the case was opened.

After spending one hour and a half before prosecutors, alongside his lawyer, Blaga left the DNA offices, refusing to reveal details on his talks with the prosecutors.

“I won’t tell you what I told the prosecutors. I made a statement in the case,” the former Liberal leader said.

Asked whether he took the 700,000 Euros, Vasile Blaga answered negatively.

“I’m telling you for the third time. No!” Blaga said.

DNA started probing Vasile Blaga one month ago for influence peddling after he allegedly received the sum of 700,000 Euros, of which 500,000 Euros from former Piatra Neamt Mayor Gheorghe Stefan.

According to the DNA, Vasile Blaga is criminally prosecuted for influence peddling; Gheorghe Stefan for influence peddling and misuse of his leading position in a political party in order to obtain undue money, goods or other benefits; and businessman Horatiu Bruno Berdila for buying influence.

The DNA claimed that in 2009 within the ruling party there was a conspicuous agreement between persons holding leading positions, namely Secretary General Blaga Vasile and Vice President Stefan Gheorghe, to obtain money for the party. “According to the agreement, this was to be accomplished by appointing, with the help of politically-appointed ministers, agreeable persons at the helm of state-owned companies and public institutions subordinated to those ministries, persons who were going to be used to award public procurement contracts to companies willing to pay contributions to their political party,” the DNA shows.

Prosecutors claimed that Gheorghe Stefan, as Vice President of the ruling party, directly used his political influence to determine key persons within relevant ministries to appoint a certain person – whom both Gheorghe Stefan and Blaga approved of – at the helm of a state-owned energy company, a person who was willing to indirectly contribute to the financing of the party by preferentially awarding public procurement contracts to certain companies.

“At the same time, from 2011 to 2012, Gheorghe Stefan allegedly informed Blaga about the overtures made to obtain contributions for the party by using a state-owned energy company’s director. Basically, the state-owned company awarded contracts to Berdila’s company, through rigged tenders, and Berdila transferred to the party a pre-established percentage of the contracts’ value,” the DNA pointed out.

“Thus, from 2011 to 2012, suspect Stefan Gheorghe, using his influence, conditioned a person’s continued presence at the helm of a state-owned energy company on them awarding a series of procurement contracts for services and IT products to the company represented by Berdila Horatiu Bruno. In parallel, Stefan Gheorghe promised Berdila Horatiu Bruno that he would intercede with the company’s director in order for the businessman’s company to win the public tenders. In return, he demanded and received 10-25 percent of the value of each contract thus won, receiving for himself and for his party the total sum of approximately 25 million Lei. The fact that suspect Blaga Vasile repeatedly received, from 2011 to 2012, in three instalments, through a middleman, the total sum of 200,000 Euros, as well as 500,000 Euros from suspect Stefan Gheorghe, money whose source he did know given the things pointed out earlier, represented the sanctioning of the prior agreement,” the DNA wrote.

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