Bucharest Tribunal magistrates ruled on Monday to acquit former minister Vasile Blaga, accused of influence peddling for allegedly receiving – via middlemen – the sum of EUR 700,000 from former Piatra Neamt Mayor Gheorghe Stefan, in the dossier concerning illegal campaign contributions received by PDL. The court ruling is not final.
Likewise, the magistrates decided to lift the distraint placed during the criminal probe on the former minister’s assets up to the concurrence with the sum of EUR 700,000.
“It acquits defendant Blaga Vasile of the charge of influence peddling. Lifts the distraint ordered during the criminal probe,” reads the decision that the Bucharest Tribunal adopted on Monday.
The decision is not final and can be challenged at the Court of Appeals.
On the last court date, on October 20, Cluj-Napoca Mayor Emil Boc and ex-minister Adriean Videanu, both former leaders of the Democrat Liberal Party (PDL), were heard as witnesses. Vasile Blaga was also present in the courtroom. He once again stressed his innocence and stated there is no evidence incriminating him.
Vasile Blaga was prosecuted on 29 November 2016 by the National Anti-corruption Directorate (DNA) Ploiesti, being charged with having received EUR 700,000 from a commercial company in exchange of exercising his influence, so that the said company would have obtained contracts with two national companies. According to the DNA, Blaga has received EUR 500,000 through the former mayor of Piatra Neamt, Gheorghe Stefan and EUR 200,000 through another intermediary.
In the indictment, the DNA says that several ghost companies were used by Gheorghe Stefan and Vasile Blaga to draw money from the national companies for the PDL. According to the document, at the level of 2009 an understanding existed within the PDL between the secretary general Vasile Blaga and vice president Gheorghe Stefan, in order to obtain money for the party.
Orban on Blaga being acquitted: I’m happy for my colleague and I wish him this verdict would be final
National Liberal Party (PNL) Chairman Ludovic Orban stated on Monday that he is happy Vasile Blaga was acquitted by the court of first instance in the dossier concerning illegal campaign contributions received by PDL, emphasising that Blaga resigned from the office of PNL Co-President when he was indicted and no longer ran in the December 2016 elections.
“Mr Blaga, the moment the criminal probe against him started, just like in my case, resigned from the office of co-president and no longer ran in the parliamentary elections. I’m happy for my colleague, I’m happy the court saw he is innocent. Basically, Vasile Blaga never left PNL, he only took a step back when question marks appeared, born from the criminal procedure in which he was involved, and I wish him this verdict would be final,” Ludovic Orban stated.