The Microsoft case seems to have reached its final stage, as all those involved have been sentenced to prison.
In the Microsoft case, dubbed by the Romanian media as one of the most spectacular in the judiciary history of post-Communist Romania, the High Court of Cassation and Justice has sentenced all four defendants to prison, under a final ruling. Two well-known business people, Dorin Cocos and Nicolae Dumitru, the former Communications Minister Gabriel Sandu and the former mayor of Piatra-Neamt Gheorghe Stefan have received, in total, 14 years in prison.
Also, the High Court has decided to seize more than 17 million Euros from the four. According to the National Anticorruption Directorate, in April 2004, the renting contract for Microsoft licenses was concluded in onerous conditions for the state budget and allowed the payment of significant commissions to those involved. A bribe of 60 million Euro and a damage to the state budget of 27 million Euros were the main accusations.
Prosecutors investigated the contracts on the basis of which, during several governments, the education system benefited from IT licenses that were far too many and way too expensive than the real needs would have required. In exchange for those customized contracts, which are by no means an exception in the Romanian public institutions’ procurement policy, decision-makers and business people benefited from unjustified commissions.
Dorin Cocos, although known as a successful and discreet businessman, seems to have been the big fish in this case. Close, for years, to the former head of state Traian Basescu, Cocos, just like many other so-called local tycoons, did not stay away from public contracts, which actually, according to the media, is the very foundation of the huge empire that he managed to build.
Gheorghe Stefan, also known as Pinalti, a nickname he got thanks to his passion for football, was the perfect example of a small town mayor with a huge influence in the ruling party. In turn, the former communications minister Sandu, did nothing, as he himself confessed, but collect money for the party, before the presidential elections of 2009, won by Traian Basescu. Stefan and Sandu were members of the Liberal Democratic Party, which subsequently merged with the National Liberal Party.
The Microsoft case, another resounding victory for the National Anticorruption Directorate, says a lot about a vicious and toxic system, in which politicians and business people join forces to achieve their own, personal pecuniary interests, where parties place unsuitable people in the upper layers of the public administration, and political parties get funding by tapping the public budget.