District 2 mayor Neculai Ontanu was placed under preventive arrest for 30 days on Friday. Ontanu was detained for 24 hours by the anti-corruption prosecutors on Wednesday evening for bribe taking, the National Anti-corruption Directorate informs.
Following Friday’s ruling, Bucharest prefect informed that Neculai Ontanu had been suspended from the District 2 mayor office. Ontanu’s duties have been taken over by deputy mayor Mihai Tudor Toader.
At the same time, the Social Democrat Party’s candidate running for Bucharest City Hall, Gabriela Firea announced that PSD would nominate a candidate for the District 2 by Tuesday. Initially, the Social Democrats had agreed to endorse Ontanu for a new candidature.
Loredana Radu, lawyer in the Bucharest Bar, former defender of ex-PM Victor Ponta, was also detained. She is charged with complicity to bribe and money laundering.
On Thursday, media reports revealed that Loredana Radu is the niece of former Vice-premier Gabriel Oprea. She defended in court former PM Victor Ponta and Mircea Cosma and Nicolae Dumitru, she also worked for one of the companies owned by businessman Dorin Cocos, ziare.com reports. Judicial sources said for hotnews.ro that Loredana Radu’s mother is the sister of Gabriel Oprea.
Prosecutors say that during 2006-2007, defendant Neculai Ontanu, mayor of District 2 Bucharest, accepted the promise of some financial benefits from another person, indicter in this case, to facilitate the procedure of the property right’s restitution on several plots of land totaling 83,500 square meters in the District 2 area. Media reported on Thursday that the indicter was businessman Cristian Borcea, former director of Dinamo football club, currently serving a jail sentence in the high-sounding “Transfers” file.
“After he issued the property title, Ontanu received a plot of land of 1,500 sqm on Barbu Vacarescu street, which was transferred by the indicter, free of any charge, through some dummy sales contracts to suspect Loredana Radu and another person, who were in fact the mayor’s agents,” reads the DNA release.
Investigators also say that on November 13, 2007 two sales contracts have been signed through which the plot of land on Barbu Vacarescu street had been passed the Loredana Radu and to the other person for an underrated price, EUR 50 per sqm, 10 times cheaper than the market price.
“In practice, no money was paid, with the plots of land being transferred on the account of the bribe promised to mayor Ontanu”, concludes the release.
The plot of land had a market share of about EUR 4.2 M, based on the sums with which it has been re-sold shortly after the dummy transaction had been concluded.
Neculai Ontanu intended to run for a new term of District 2 mayor at the local elections in June on behalf of the National Union for Romania’s Progress (UNPR), with the Social Democrat Party’s endorsement. Immediately after Ontanu was detainedm PSD announced it would nominate another person to run for the District 2 city hall.