Former Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies Liviu Dragnea has been sent to court by prosecutors of the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) in a new case, in which he is accused of influence peddling and use of influence or authority in connection with his presence at the inauguration ceremony of President Donald Trump at the beginning of 2017.
According to a DNA release sent to AGERPRES, the DNA prosecutors ordered the prosecution of Nicolae-Liviu Dragnea, currently under arrest, at the time of the deeds the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies and chairman of a political party, for influence peddling and use of influence or authority by a person holding a leadership position in a party, for the purpose of obtaining for himself or another undue benefits, but also of other three businessmen, for the crimes of buying influence and complicity to buying influence.
In the same case, Gheorghe Dimitrescu was also brought to justice, at the time of the deed having been Florin Iordache’s parliamentary adviser but also Romania’s former consul in Bonn, for buying influence.
Anticorruption prosecutors note in the indictment that, between January 2017 and May 2017, Nicolae-Liviu Dragnea allegedly received undue benefits from one of the businessmen for himself and the party, consisting of ensuring access to the events within the US President’s inauguration ceremony from January 17 to 21, 2017, held in Washington DC (USA), based on a benefit package worth 250,000 dollars, access obtained through an American politician and businessman, vice president of the Presidential Inaugural Committee, and ensuring with the help of the other two businessmen, lobbying and political consulting services worth 30,000 dollars for his party.
“The money was allegedly paid in May 2017 by an offshore company based in the British Virgin Islands and bank accounts in Cyprus (controlled by the Romanian businessman with the help of the other two businessmen),” the DNA said.
The investigators also say that Dragnea allegedly accepted from the same businessman the promise of undue patrimonial benefits consisting of the participation, between May and June 2017, in two meetings (not materialized) with senior US officials.
“In this context, the defendant Nicolae-Liviu Dragnea allegedly trafficked, in favor of the Romanian businessman, the real influence he had towards the Prime Minister and other members of the Romanian Government, promising that he would determine them to ensure the business interests, especially in the military and intelligence field, that the respective individual had in Romania”, the release reads.
Also, according to the prosecutors, between May and October 2017, Nicolae-Liviu Dragnea allegedly used his authority and influence deriving from the quality of chairman of a political party towards Gheorghe Dimitrescu, as well as towards two other people, for the purpose to obtain, in the same period of time, undue benefits for himself and for the party, in violation of the provisions of Law 334/2006 on the financing of political parties, consisting of lobbying services worth 100,000 dollars (of which 45,000 euros was allegedly paid by Gheorghe Dimitrescu). The respective services were allegedly provided by an American lobbying company, in order to establish some visits for Nicolae-Liviu Dragnea with senior American officials.
“In exchange for the benefits received from Gheorghe Dimitrescu, between June and July 2017, the defendant Nicolae-Liviu Dragnea allegedly trafficked in his favor the real influence he had over the Minister of Foreign Affairs, promising to determine the high dignitary to appoint the former to the position of Romania’s Consul General in Bonn, which happened”, the DNA says.
According to the DNA, in this case precautionary measures were ordered on several real estates belonging to Nicolae-Liviu Dragnea.
The case was sent to the Bucharest Court with a proposal to maintain the precautionary measures ordered in the case.
Sorin Grindeanu: My trip to USA – paid with PSD money
Social Democratic Party (PSD) MP Sorin Grindeanu said on Monday that his trip to the United States, when he was prime minister, along with Liviu Dragnea, was paid for by the PSD.
He claimed that he did not know information about the new case against the former PSD leader Liviu Dragnea regarding the trip to the USA.
“I don’t know anything at all, I have not seen the news. If the case was sent to court, it means that the defendants were informed. (…) I don’t comment. I was together [with Dragnea] in the United States then. I have been twice heard as a witness in this case. I know that the party paid for my trip, the plane and the accommodation and everything else,” Grindeanu said at Parliament.
The PSD deputy added that he refused to go to the USA on the Government’s money.
“Although I had then the official quality of prime minister, all the travel expenses were not paid by the Government, I refused that. They were paid by the PSD, whose member I was. ( …) I cannot tell you [where the money came from], I was not the party’s treasurer. I received the invitation from Liviu Dragnea, asking me to go with him to the United States,” Grindeanu explained.
The former prime minister also said that he traveled to the USA “a day or even two days” after Liviu Dragnea, who had had meetings before his arrival.
“There were the events that you know – the ones related to oath taking. What was the purpose of Mr. Iohannis’ visit a year before? To put a cap on his head? It was a matter related to an important moment, when the new US President took the oath,” the social democrat MP added.
Asked if the visit to the United States was official, he said: “Semi-official.”
Grindeanu denied that Liviu Dragnea had asked him to intervene for certain contracts in the military field: “Never”. “I will probably be heard in court,” he added.