On Monday, ex-Premier Victor Ponta appeared before National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) prosecutors, to be heard in the same case in which another former Head of Government – PSD’s Sorin Grindeanu – was heard last week. According to sources close to the investigation, quoted by Romania Curata, the two ex-Prime Ministers were allegedly heard in the Tel Drum case in which several former and current Tel Drum CEOs are being probed for the embezzlement of European grants.
On leaving the hearings, Victor Ponta pointed out he is not allowed to offer details about the reason he was summoned at the DNA.
At the same time, the ex-Premier had a subtle message for his former party boss: “I’m the one who best knows the difference between politics and justice. I was summoned, I said what I know, but I do not confuse the political battle with years in prison, because such a battle was waged against me and… don’t do unto others what you don’t like done unto you.”
Victor Ponta also avoided making statements on his arrival at the DNA headquarters, asking journalists to allow him to sit in the queue.
Ex-Premier Sorin Grindeanu went before DNA prosecutors on September 13. On leaving, he stated he is a witness, but refused offering details about the dossier in which he was heard. “I can’t tell you… There are things I can state and others I can’t. I don’t want to and can’t give you details from this dossier. I believe I was as clear as I can be, I have no kind of problem, my capacity is that of witness,” Grindeanu said after he was heard for three hours.
Romania Curata journalists claim, quoting sources close to the investigation, not only that the ex-Premiers were heard in the same case, but also that they were heard in the Tel Drum case.
DNA prosecutors announced the start of a criminal probe against Tel Drum and against its former and current CEOs on August 18. CEOs Petre Pitis and Mircea Visan, as well as former SC Tel Drum SA CEO Florea Neda, are being criminally prosecuted. The charges levelled against them are the use, with ill-faith, of false, inaccurate or incomplete statements if the guilty act results in obtaining undue European grants.
Several days later, investigators carried out computer forensics operations in the Tel Drum dossier. On that occasion, Tel Drum CEO Petre Pitis claimed he does not have personal relations with PSD President and Lower House Speaker Liviu Dragnea. “I have no personal relation with Liviu Dragnea. I didn’t even meet him back when he was County Council Chairman, he didn’t sign the contracts awarded by the County Council, which we won in tenders. They were signed by a Deputy Chairman of the County Council,” Pitis stated.
Subsequently, during a talk-show, Liviu Dragnea once again denied having any ties with Tel Drum, a company that was constantly awarded public contracts. Back then, former Romanian Tax Authority Director Gelu Stefan Diaconu had a vehement reaction: “I’m telling you only this: it’s the biggest lie publicly uttered by a politician!”
Likewise, on September 8, ex-Premier Victor Ponta stated: “State institutions know absolutely everything about Tel Drum, for very many years now, and Mr Dragnea has benefitted from certain protection on the part of some institutions. I’m convinced – I’m making a statement and take responsibility for it – that state institutions know everything, more than you know from carrying out press investigations, more than I know, they have known absolutely everything about Tel Drum for very many years.” At the same time, Ponta recalled how he ended up signing the document that transferred the Belina Lake to the Teleorman County Council. “Mr Dragnea asked me to; he in fact drafted the document for the Government, for the transfer of that lake to the Teleorman County Council. I’ve found out from the press now and I understand that’s true, it’s not a lie, that lake ended up at Tel Drum. Of course, I got angry,” the ex-Premier and ex-PSD President stated.
Dragnea on Ponta being heard at DNA: I’m very saddened by the situation reached
Social Democratic Party (PSD) Chairman Liviu Dragnea stated on Monday, at the Palace of Parliament, that he is saddened by the situation in which ex-Prime Minister Victor Ponta finds himself, claiming he is not bothered by Ponta’s presence at the DNA. (read on page 6)
“I said I won’t comment. But I’m sad. I’m very saddened by the situation reached. But it doesn’t bother me, nor am I influenced by some persons’ presence at the DNA. In what concerns me, it can’t bother me because I’ve always said it, and I keep saying it: I have nothing to do with the accusations that appeared in the press,” Liviu Dragnea stated.
Ludovic Orban heard at DNA. He says he came as a witness
National Liberal Chairman (PNL) Chairman Ludovic Orban was heard on Monday afternoon at DNA, saying that he was called as a witness and refusing to say in which case.
“I was summoned as a witness. I think it’s a case since 2014”, Orban said at the entry in the DNA headquarter.
Ludovic Orban was heard at DNA for around one hour and a half.
When exiting DNA, the PNL leader refused to say in which case he was heard.
“I can’t give you any kind of information related to the subject for which I was heard. (…) You cannot ask me about a subject on which I have nothing to say” Orban stated.
Also asked if his presence at DNA is connected to Victor Ponta’s hearing at DNA, which took place also Monday, the PNL leader said he doesn’t know who was heard during the day at the National Anticorruption Directorate because he was in Ploiesti, at Mircea Ionescu-Quintus’s funeral.