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March 1, 2021

Gabriel Oprea at Supreme Court for illegal use of DIPI funds; trial postponed for January

Ex-Deputy Premier Gabriel Oprea showed up at the High Court of Cassation and Justice (ICCJ) on Tuesday, in the dossier concerning the luxury car that the Department for Intelligence and Internal Protection (DIPI) purchased for the protection of dignitaries and that Oprea used. The trial, in which Gabriel Oprea is indicted for abuse of office, restarted from scratch following the retirement of one member of the panel of judges. On Tuesday, the magistrates ordered a postponement.

At the court hearing on Tuesday, the magistrates ordered a postponement, a new court date being set for mid-January, at the lawyers’ request.

In September, Supreme Court magistrates decided that the trial should restart from scratch because judge Ana Maria Dascalu, one of the members of the panel of judges, had retired.

Likewise, the court decided that all witness hearings should take place in secret meetings.

The trial on the merits of the dossier in which former Interior Minister Gabriel Oprea and former DIPI Directors Gheorghe Nicolae and Nelu Zarnica are indicted, dossier that concerns DIPI’s purchase of a luxury car for the protection of dignitaries, a car that Oprea used, started in March at the Supreme Court. The damage caused is estimated at RON 410,000.

In this dossier, National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) prosecutors indicted, on 11 May 2016, former Interior Minister Gabriel Oprea and former DIPI Directors Gheorghe Nicolae, Nelu Zarnica, Nicolae Pavel and Danut Iacob.

Gabriel Oprea, former Deputy Prime Minister for National Security and former Interior Minister, is on trial for abuse of office, if the civil servant obtained an undue benefit for himself or for someone else.

Former DIPI Director Gheorghe Nicolae is on trial for complicity to abuse of office and two embezzlement offences, one of them recurrent (11 counts); Gabriel Nicolae Pavel, former head of DIPI’s Legal Service, is on trial for complicity to abuse of office; Nelu Zarnica, undersecretary of state at the time the guilty act was committed, is on trial for embezzlement; Marian Danut Iacob, former head of an administrative structure, is on trial for embezzlement.

According to the indictment, on 13 July 2015, then-Interior Minister Gabriel Oprea, with the help of Gheorghe Nicolae and Gabriel Nicolae Pavel, ordered the hiking – by RON 410,000 – of DIPI’s funds for operational expenditures, and approved the purchase of an Audi A8 auto vehicle, for the stated purpose of ensuring the protection of dignitaries.

“This was done in violation of the legal provisions that limit the use of Interior Ministry funds for the purchase of auto vehicles strictly to situations related to their use in the criminal prosecution of corruption crimes. As a result of the violation of job duties, the state budget lost RON 410,000, and DIPI benefitted from the endowment with the said goods, worth EUR 91,295.73, the benefit being undue in relation to the legal destination of the operational funds,” the prosecutors wrote in the indictment.

Former DIPI Director Gheorghe Nicolae is also accused that, in August-October 2015, he changed the use of the Audi A8 auto vehicle purchased with operational funds, “in a secret manner, to the personal and exclusive use of Interior Minister Oprea Gabriel.”

Investigators also established that, from 2014 to 2015, Gheorghe Nicolae repeatedly approved several reports which changed the destination of the RON 238,173.47 allocated for DIPI’s operational funds, allocating it to protocol expenditures or procurements that were not circumscribed to the intelligence activities, actions or missions.

“Defendants Zarnica Nelu and Iacob Marian Danut acted in the same manner, in their capacity as credit authorities within the Department for Intelligence and Internal Protection, drafting reports that changed the destination of the sum of RON 9,398 and RON 4,955.51 respectively,” according to the indictment.

Prosecutors have levied a distraint on several assets belonging to Oprea, Nicolae and Pavel, up to the concurrence with the sum of RON 410,000, to recover the damage caused by their committal of abuse of office.



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