Amid the elections campaign, National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) prosecutors restarted on Monday their probe in the controversial Microsoft Case.
Thus, two former Microsoft directors and businessman Claudiu Florica, considered the “brains” of the entire affair, were placed under court supervision on Monday. The three are standing accused of being accomplices to repeated abuse of office when a public office holder obtains ill-gotten gains for self or others, according to a press statement released on Monday by DNA.
Former Education Minister Alexandru Athanasiu was also summoned for hearings at the DNA and was subsequently indicted for malfeasance in office. At the same time, DNA’s Chief Prosecutor has asked the Lower Chamber to approve the start of the criminal prosecution against Eugen Bejinariu.
Damage in Microsoft licencing criminal case set at nearly 67 million US Dollars
The total damage to the national budget caused by the contract and annexes thereof investigated as part of a Microsoft licencing criminal case has been estimated at nearly 67 million US Dollars, according to a press statement released on Monday by the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA).
“The total damage inflicted on the national budget because of the IT licencing framework contract dated April 15, 2004, and the annexes thereof of November 2004 and 2008 has been estimated at 66,965,343 USD,” says the DNA statement.
Out of the total amount, 28,776,327 US Dollars is allegedly the damage caused by the difference paid by the Romanian Government and the money paid by Fujitsu Siemens Computers to Microsoft, under the April 15, 2004 lease agreement.
An additional 19,370,500 US Dollars are the damage estimated from the first additional document to the lease agreement. According to the DNA, that would be the entire amount paid up, because, they argue, the agreement should not have been extended to include the licences for educational purposes.
Likewise, the additional damage incurred by additional document 2/3 to the lease agreement, meaning the difference between difference paid by the Romanian Government and the money paid by Fujitsu Siemens Computers to Microsoft, is estimated at 18,818,516 US Dollars, according to DNA.
Former Education Minister Athanasiu indicted for malfeasance in office
Former Education Minister Alexandru Athanasiu was indicted on Monday for abuse of office by the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) in the “Microsoft 2” case.
After being heard earlier on Monday, he professed himself innocent, adding that he has always acted in good faith.
Asked who convinced him to sign the government decision on the now controversial educational licenses, he answered: “Nobody convinced me, a document with the Education Ministry and the Communications Ministry persuaded me, I mean a census on the computers of the education network was taken and the Communications Ministry decided what kind of Microsoft educational license was compatible with the configuration of those computers. Facing such a document that was saying they were necessary (…) I’m telling you I’m no IT expert, I mean that is why qualified people exist in this field and had the official position very well defined. (…) I don’t believe a minister should know how many screws are there in a machine, as long as they’ve got specialty departments organised and running exactly for this purpose.”
Athanasiu added he is no longer charged with bribe taking, influence peddling and money laundering.
“The other charges have been dropped; well, the malfeasance in office [charge] is no joy either, malfeasance in office carries huge punishment, and I’m not thinking yet seriously to get into a confinement regime knowing I didn’t touch a penny as a public servant. (…) It is not normal that those who have stolen enormously in this country, in an official capacity, in their capacity as businessmen and in general from public funds, are laughing at fools like me. (…) I’ve always acted in good faith, this is what the prosecutor admitted too, I told him it is not good what they are doing. (…) I’m not a petty person, I don’t inform on people,” he said.
Athanasiu said no damage has been assessed in his case, adding that he took out no document when he left office.
DNA asks Lower Chamber to approve criminal probe against Eugen Bejinariu in Microsoft Case
DNA wants the immunity of Eugen Bejinariu – former head of the Government’s General Secretariat and currently member of the Lower Chamber – lifted in order to criminally prosecute him for malfeasance in office in the Microsoft Case.
The request to have Eugen Bejinariu – former minister for the coordination of the Government’s General Secretariat in 2003-2004 and currently MP – prosecuted was filed with the General Prosecutor of the High Court of Justice’s Prosecutor’s Office, in order for him to notify the Lower Chamber.
Anticorruption prosecutors are accusing Eugen Bejinariu of committing malfeasance in office, repeated offence, during his ministerial stint, guilty act through which the civil servant obtained undue benefits for himself or for others.
“Bejinariu Eugen carried out the following actions: He initiated and supported two draft Government decisions (no.1473/11.12.2013 and no.470/01.04.2004) that approved the signing, with Fujitsu Siemens Computers GmbH, of a commercial licencing contract for Microsoft products. Fujitsu Siemens Computers’ capacity as sole distributor of these products was falsely invoked in order to favour this company by avoiding to hold a public tender. He initiated and supported the draft government decision no.1778/21.10.2014, which approved the extension of the commercial licencing contract that the Romanian Government and Fujitsu Siemens Computers GmbH had signed on 15.04,2014, to include Microsoft educational products, without there being a grounded necessity. He signed the commercial licencing contract and the addendum to it, knowing that procurement from a single source was not justified,” reads the DNA request.
Kovesi announced in October that the case file was being handled
The “Microsoft 2” Case is disjoined from the case that saw final executory sentences being ruled on September 3 against former Piatra Neamt Mayor Gheorghe Stefan (6 years in prison), former Communications Minister Gabriel Sandu (3 years in prison), Dorin Cocos and Nicolae Dumitru (2 years and 4 months in prison each), News.ro informs.
In early October, DNA Chief Prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi announced that the Microsoft Case still present at the DNA was being handled, over 60 home searches were carried out and documents seized from several institutions were being analysed.
“The other case, in which the disjoined decisions were carried out, is being handled. Over 60 home searches have been carried out, over 120 IT searches on data storage devices – mainly computers and other IT devices – have been finalised, dozens of persons have been heard, documents relevant for the case have been seized from institutions. At this moment, we are assessing these documents to establish the financial circuits used. The precise ascertainment of the damage is up next. One of the main charges consists of malfeasance in office and to prove this crime and finalise the prosecutor’s report, or any other solution that can be ruled during the criminal trial, we have to establish a precise damage. This will be established through a report of findings or survey in the public procurements domain and the carrying out of IT surveys is required. We are working rhythmically,” DNA Chief Prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi stated back then, Mediafax informs.
Serban Mihailescu, Ecaterina Andronescu, Valerian Vreme, Dan Nica, Daniel Funeriu, Alexandru Athanasiu, Mihai Tanasescu, Adriana Ticau and Gabriel Sandu (convicted through a final decision) were on the list that anticorruption prosecutors announced in September 2014. The immunity of all nine former ministers was lifted, the start of the criminal prosecution against them was approved and they were indicted for malfeasance in office, money laundering, influence peddling and passive bribery in relation to the contracts awarded for Microsoft licences. Also in 2014, information appeared about an alleged request for a USD 20 million bribe out of the USD 54 million that the Government paid in the contract for Microsoft licences in schools.
“Evidence shows that ministers Nica Dan, Mihailescu Petru Serban, Adriana Ticau, Athanasiu Alexandru, Tanasescu Mihai Nicolae and Gabriel Sandu carried out their prerogatives with ill will, prompting the signing of a licencing contract on 15.04.2004, on onerous terms for the state budget, thus assuring the possibility of misappropriating a discount of approximately 47 percent, offered by Microsoft to the Romanian Government for further consideration, and implicitly allowing the payment of commissions to the persons involved,” the DNA pointed out in a communique issued at the time.
The Romanian Government and Microsoft signed the first framework agreement in the autumn of 2003, for the purchase of 50,000 licences for central public administration computers, at a discount.