UPDATE: President Iohannis called the premier at Cotroceni, asking for his resignation.
After meeting Ponta, President Iohannis told a press conference that, considering DNA informed the premier is charged with criminal acts, he asked him to resign.
“In my view, a prime-minister facing criminal charges is an impossible situation for Romania. On the other hand, a political crisis is all that Romania needs less, it would be the worst thing to happen. Considering all these, I ask for PM Victor Ponta’s resignation,” Iohannis said.
Official sources told local media that Klaus Iohannis called PM Ponta at Cotroceni to ask his resignation, failing which he intends to suspend him from office.
The prime minister retorted on Facebook that he wouldn’t quit, as he was appointed as PM by the Parliament and it is only the Parliament that can remove him.
“I had an extremely correct and civilized institutional discussion with President Iohannis! I respect his public position, but I was appointed by the Parliament and only it can remove me! I think respecting the constitutional principles is essential for our society and I cannot accept that an anti-corruption prosecutor is by any means above the Parliament, the Government and the citizens of this country! This would mean dictatorship and I believe it would be a great mistake to all of us after 25 years since the 1989 Revolution,” reads Ponta’s Facebook post.
Yet, no later than this spring, PM Ponta ensured that he would quit if he were to be prosecuted somehow. At the same time, he used to state early this year that he wouldn’t be surprised if DNA instituted proceedings for irregularities related to Rovinari and Turceni energy complexes, while ironically commented that there is no person left without being investigated.
Prime Minister Victor Ponta went to the National Anti-corruption Directorate (DNA) on Friday morning, where he was summoned for hearings.
“Mr. prosecutor Che?eru called me at 11:00. In the end we’ll tell why and how,” Ponta told journalists before entering DNA headquarters. The premier is accompanied by his lawyer.
Later on, DNA informed that PM Ponta was heard as he is a suspect in the file of PSD senator Dan Sova. The Romanian premier is prosecuted for forgery in deeds by private signature, complicity to tax evasion and money laundering in Turceni-Rovinari case. According to prosecutors, Ponta would have committed these deeds while he was a lawyer.
Judicial sources told Agerpres that DNA would have found evidence against Victor Ponta, namely certain contracts attesting the partnership between Ponta’s private legal practica and Sova’s, during the searches conducted at Dan Sova’s office in April this year.
Social Democrat Senator Dan Sova has been prosecuted since August 2014 for complicity to abuse of office, after his private legal practice clenched three legal assistance contracts with Turceni and Rovinari complexes that caused a RON 3.5 million prejudice to them.
In retort to the charges, right after he left DNA’s office PM Ponta posted on Facebook the documents that he received from Turceni and Rovinari Energy Complexes and from National Company of Lignite Oltenia in 2009 which attest there was no contractual relations between these companies and his private legal practice.
Ponta also posted an address dating in 2009 from the Bucharest Bar, which shows that lawyer Ponta is not and has never been associate in Sova’s private legal practice.
The documents are accompanied by the title” Proofs of innocence in Turceni-Rovinari case” and by the message: “Several information on the reason I was summoned at DNA today. The situation is clear from my point of view. Politics is not going in for at DNA, but in Parliament!”.
However, one of Ponta’s wealth statements filed as deputy in 2007 read that he was senior partner within “Sova& Associates” private practice at that time, and that he also had his own private legal practice.
An hour before being summoned to DNA, PM Ponta was posting on Facebook a message saying that it’s very good PNL and PDL are filing the no confidence motion today, which shows the political battle is carried on in Parliament and not at DNA or on other websites.
The spokesperson of the Social Democrat Party, Gabriela Firea said that it’s more than suspect that DNA summoned the prime minister for hearings precisely on the day Liberals filed the no confidence motion.
DNA asks Parliament’s consent to prosecute PM for conflict of interest, too
On the other hand, DNA seeks to prosecute PM Ponta also for conflict of interest. DNA chief prosecutor Codruta Kovesi on Friday asked the Chamber of Deputies to give consent for Ponta’s prosecution, arguing Ponta, as premier, named Dan Sova as minister considering the fact he used to receive interests from Sova.
Anti-corruption prosecutors claim that, as Romania’s prime minister, Victor Ponta designated Dan Sova as minister of Relation with the Parliament in December 2012, as minister delegate for national infrastructure projects and foreign investments in February 2014, and as Transport minister in March 2014.
DNA says Ponta made these designations taking into account he benefited of several interests from Sova in the past, consisting of money (about RON 250,000) and the free right to use a vehicle.
Chamber of Deputies Speaker: I’ve called the Standing Bureau to ‘initiate proceedings’
The Chamber of Deputies Speaker Valeriu Zgonea announced on Friday that he has received “from the prosecutor general the referral of the deputy and prime minister Victor Ponta” and he has called the Standing Bureau of the Chamber 17:00h to “initiate the necessary procedures.”
He said that he hasn’t opened “the envelope of the attorney general” and does not know “what file is Victor Ponta involved in.”
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