Ex-Premier Victor Ponta and ex-Senator Dan Sova were acquitted by Supreme Court magistrates on Thursday, in the ‘Turceni-Rovinari’ case in which they were tried for corruption regarding the signing of several consultancy contracts. The court ruling is not final.
The High Court of Cassation and Justice ruling, which comes after five postponements, is not final and can be challenged by prosecutors at the five-judge panel.
Thus, Victor Ponta has been acquitted of the charges of forgery in deeds by private signature, complicity to tax evasion and money laundering, while Dan Sova has been acquitted of the charges of forgery in deeds by private signature, tax evasion, and money laundering.
Laurentiu Ciurel, former director of the Rovinari Energy Holding, charged with three counts of abuse of office, and Laurentiu Graure, former economic director of Turceni Energy Holding, were also acquitted.
On the other hand, Dumitru Cristea, former director of Turceni Energy Holding, was convicted to four years in prison for abuse of office, and the payment of more than RON 2 million in damages.
At the last court hearing, prosecutors asked the court to rule prison sentences against Victor Ponta and Dan Sova. The investigation has lasted almost four years in this dossier. Victor Ponta was the first Premier in the post-1989 period to be indicted while in office.
DNA prosecutors asked that Victor Ponta be convicted for forgery in deeds under private signature, complicity to tax evasion and money laundering, and also demanded a supplementary punishment. “The punishments should be closer to medium [severity], and they should be served in prison,” the DNA prosecutor demanded. The DNA also asked the High Court magistrates to confiscate from Victor Ponta various sums of money received from the Sova & Associates law firm.
For Dan Sova, the DNA prosecutor asked for a punishment of maximum severity, for forgery in deeds under private signature, tax evasion and money laundering. The Public Ministry’s representative also asked that the persons involved in this dossier – Victor Ponta, Dan Sova, Laurentiu Graure, Laurentiu Ciurel and Dumitru Cristea – should cover the damage ascertained.
Victor Ponta was indicted on 17 September 2015, alongside ex-Senator Dan Sova, Laurentiu Ciurel – CEO of the Rovinari Energy Holding at the time the guilty acts were committed –, and Dumitru Cristea – CEO of the Turceni Energy Holding at the time the guilty acts were committed.
Prosecutors accused Victor Ponta that from October 2007 to December 2008 he obtained RON 181,439 from the Sova & Associates law firm, through his own law firm, for services that are listed in the paperwork but that were allegedly never rendered. Victor Ponta was charged with forgery of private documents and complicity to tax evasion and money laundering, guilty acts he allegedly committed in his capacity as lawyer. Dan Sova, who was coordinating lawyer at the Sova & Associates law firm at the time the guilty acts were committed, was charged with abuse of office, forgery of deeds under private signature, tax evasion and money laundering. Laurentiu-Dan Ciurel was charged with three counts of abuse of office, while Dumitru Cristea and former Turceni Energy Holding CEO Laurentiu-Octavian Graure were charged with abuse of office.
In the Turceni-Rovinari case, ex-Senator Dan Sova Dan Sova was indicted in January 2016, being accused of taking a EUR 100,000 bribe to make sure CET Govora signed a contract with a law firm. Former CET Govora CEO Mihai Balan was indicted alongside Sova, for influence peddling and abuse of office.
According to DNA prosecutors, from October 2011 to July 2014, Dan Sova demanded and received from a denouncer a total of EUR 100,000, in exchange for using the influence he had over CET Govora CEO Mihai Balan so that the company would sign legal consultancy contracts with a certain law firm, contracts for monthly subscriptions costing EUR 10,000 per month.
Because of Dan Sova’s intercession with Mihai Balan, the latter signed – in December 2011 and May 2013 – two consultancy contracts with the law firm represented by the denouncer and approved (in January-October 2012, and June 2013 – August 2014), on behalf of CET Govora, the payments carried out based on the two documents, thus breaking legal provisions and the company’s internal regulations, the investigators claim. According to DNA prosecutors, these contracts were not justified, since CET Govora had at the time a legal department employing six jurists, and the dossiers it handled did not call for assistance from a law firm.
On April 11, former House lawmaker Cristian Rizea was heard as a witness in this dossier. In his statement before the Supreme Court, he said he does not recall how much he charged ex-Senator Dan Sova for a Bucharest villa, pointing out he received a part of the money, and the difference was received in 60 monthly instalments of EUR 5,000 each, every time in cash, namely a total of EUR 300,000, adding that they did not sign an addendum because they trusted each other. DNA prosecutors claim that, in 2011, the money that Sova used to pay for Rizea’s villa were obtained from the contracts that Dan Sova’s law firm signed with CET Govora.