In a giant operation, dubbed “Microsoft affair,” DNA asked permission for the prosecution of 9 ex-ministers.
Closely monitored by Brussels, the Romanian judiciary has launched an all-out war on high-level corruption. Over the past two years, an ex-PM, ministers and high-profile politicians have been sent to prison.
Late last week, the National Anti-Corruption Directorate requested that the Presidency, Parliament of Romania and European Parliament should lift the immunity of as many as 9 former ministers from various parties and successive governments, whom it intends to prosecute. They are suspected of influence peddling, bribery, money laundering and abuse of office, in a case concerning the award of IT licenses.
The offences were committed in 2001, and one of the contracts in question was signed by the Romanian Government with Fujitsu Siemens Computers, which was allegedly favoured in the provision of Microsoft licenses to Romanian public institutions. According to the prosecutors, of the 54 million US dollars paid by the Government, 20 million dollars were commissions paid to the individuals involved in the contract, including ministry staff. Another contract regards the Education Ministry’s procurement of nearly 180 thousand Microsoft licenses intended for Romanian schools, which was 73 thousand more than the number of compatible computers in schools at that date. That contract reportedly caused more than 5 million Euros worth of losses for the Romanian state.
Moreover, the National Anti-Corruption Directorate identified transfers to the bank accounts of at least 3 of the ex-ministers under investigation. All 9 of them dismiss the accusations. The Social Democrat Ecaterina Andronescu says she has never taken any money from anybody, while Serban Mihailescu, the Secretary General of the Government in 2000-2003, says the accusations are ungrounded. Daniel Funeriu and Valerian Vreme, accused of abuse of office, have voluntarily suspended their People’s Movement party membership. Since the investigation is complicated and branches out in many directions, the National Anti-Corruption Directorate seems to have a tough job ahead. But it also has an opportunity to disprove the criticism of its enemies and to show that corruption knows no political affiliation.