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January 21, 2022

Supreme Court reasoning in Microsoft case: Defendants colluded to influence governmental decisions

The four defendants in the Microsoft overpriced licensing case – Dorin Cocos (photo), Nicolae Dumitru, Gabriel Sandu and Gheorghe Stefan – colluded to influence governmental decisions and secure exorbitant amounts of money, and whether they acted out of greed or the obligation to provide money to others or to political parties is of no relevance, reads the reasoning of the five-judge panel of the High Court of Cassation and Justice.

“The panel of five judges in the first place takes into account the extremely high social danger of the offences of the defendants, who joined their efforts to influence governmental decisions to the detriment of the public interest and to get exorbitant amounts of money (in the order of millions of euro for each person involved), and it is irrelevant whether what prompted them to act was their own rapacity or the desire / obligation to provide illicit sources of financing to others (political parties included),” the magistrates said in their motivation for increasing the sentences of the defendants.

The magistrates argue that the defendants have set up genuine financial schemes based on fictitious service supply contracts with offshore companies whereby they succeeded in claiming the money derived from influence peddling.

The panel of five judges increased the sentences handed down to the four defendants, considering that the sentences given by the first instance court were too moderate, and the jail terms had been trimmed to a “paltry” length.

Initially, in March 2016 three judges of the supreme court handed down reduced sentences in this case, specifically a suspended 1 year and six months in prison for Nicolae Dumitru; two years for Gabriel Sandu; two years for Dorin Cocos; three years for Gheorghe Stefan. The confiscated amounts of money were also small: one million euro from Dumitru Nicolae; 2,196,035 euro from Gabriel Sandu; 3,700,000 euro from Dorin Cocos; 3,996,360 euro from Gheorghe Stefan.

On appeal, in October 2016, a panel of five judges increased the sentences and ruled that they should all be with execution: Gabriel Sandu – a 3-year term in prison; Dorin Cocos – 2 years and 4 months; Gheorghe Stefan – 6 years; Nicolae Dumitru – 2 years and 4 months. The judges also increased the confiscated sums: 9 million euro from Dorin Cocos; 2 million euro and 1 million dollars from Nicolae Dumitru; 4 million euro from Gheorghe Stefan and 2.1 million euro from Gabriel Sandu.

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