The National Anti-Corruption Directorate has expanded its investigation into the famous Microsoft case.
The Microsoft case, with its exceptional line-up of who’s who in Romanian politics, including nine former government ministers and wealthy business people, may be the most spectacular in Romania’s post-communist judicial history. By and large, the prosecutors are probing the depths of deals made between the software giant and governments of various political hues. The deals involve sales of software licenses for the Ministry of Education, allegedly purchased in too large a number and at a price way above the reasonable.
In exchange for preferential contracts, which is, after all, way too common a practice in Romanian public institutions, the officials granting the contracts are alleged to have received commissions upwards of millions of Euros, as a result squandering dozens of millions of Euros from the state budget at a time when the education system was facing chronic underfinancing. The latest people caught in the net are former minister of communications Gabriel Sandu, Mayor of Piatra Neamt Gheorghe Stefan, and business people Nicolae Dumitru and Dorin Cocos.
Though enjoying a positive public image of a successful businessman with a discreet public presence, Dorin Cocos is believed to be the big catch. Seen for years as a close associate of president Traian Basescu, Cocos, like plenty of domestic powerhouse business people, did not shun public contracts, which the media claims underlie his financial empire. Early this month, President Traian Basescu approved criminal investigations in the Microsoft case involving five former ministers – Adrian Ticau, Gabriel Sandu, Alexandru Athanasiu, Mihai Tanasescu, and Daniel Funeriu.
The National Anti-Corruption Directorate also applied to Parliament for approval to start criminal investigations against three of its members: Ecaterina Andronescu, Serban Mihailescu, and Valerian Vreme. They also applied for the same to the European Parliament, as they want to investigate Dan Nica, standing European MP. Many believe that pursuing the Microsoft case is the crowning achievement of the National Anti-Corruption Directorate in its renewed drive over the last two or three years.
Even though it had good reviews from the European Commission in its reports on the Romanian justice system, that institution did not seem in a hurry to fight high level corruption, which has been the true cancer in Romanian administration in the last 25 years.