Former Interior minister Gabriel Oprea resigned from the position of UNPR chairman on Thursday. He sent a letter to the members of the National Union for Romania’s Progress (UNPR), announcing his resignation from the helm of the party he had set up in 2008.
UNPR has been seldom tested during these almost six years of political activity and we managed together to overcome any obstacles (…) Today UNPR is facing a difficult but important moment for its future. As founder, chairman and precisely as member of this team I chose to do my best so that the party should overcome this obstacle.
Therefore I decided to resign from the party chairman position. It’s not an easy decision, but it is one of the things I can still do to give the party and the entire team an extra chance in this electoral year (…) I have the human duty to not allow debates regarding my person to affect the party’s image. I remain a simple party member, a colleague that you can count on and a man that keeps my word (…) Neculai Onțanu will take over the party interim leadership (…) For the future chairman my option is Valeriu Steriu, whose professionalism is acknowledged by all parties. Of course, the decision is to be taken by the party’s forums, but I consider that I have the right and obligation to tell the team which is my recommendation (…) It was an honour to be your colleague and to lead UNPR,” reads Oprea’s letter.
The party leadership will convene to record Gabriel Oprea’s resignation on Monday morning.
Gabriel Oprea is accused of abuse of office in the case of the ex-head of the Department for Intelligence and Internal Protection (DGIPI), senior Police quaestor Nicolae Gheorghe.
Prosecutors argue that on July 13th, 2015 Gabriel Oprea, as Interior minister, with the help of Nicolae Gheorghe, as secretary of state within DGIPI and Pavel Nicolae, head of the DGIPI’s legal department, allotted RON 410,000 for the DGIPI’s operative expenses and approved the purchase of a Audi A8 vehicle for the dignitaries’ protection.
Investigators say that the Interior minister exclusively used the Audi A8 car during August-October 2015, while the purchase of the car broke the legal provisions, which restrict such investments out of the operative funds of the Interior minister strictly to criminal prosecution actions of the corruption crimes.
Therefore, by allowing the purchase, Oprea would have caused a prejudice of RON 410,000 to the state budget.
A week ago, th Senate approved the National Anti-corruption Directorate’s prosecution request against senator Gabriel Oprea, former Interior minister and deputy premier in the Ponta Government.
According to Social Democrat senator Laurentiu Coca, the DNA request passed by 71 votes to 52, with one vote being annulled.
Oprea left the Senate’s plenary sitting during the vote, saying that “he had said all he had to say in the plenary session”. The senator added that he had just done his job, that he is innocent, while asking his colleagues to vote against the DNA’s prosecution request. In his defence, Oprea claimed in front of the committee that the car bought by DGIPI during his mandate was legally acquired.
The former head of the intelligence service of the Interior ministry sent the senators of the Legal committee a document showing that actions of illegally accessing Oprea’s office communication tools had been registered and that the minister and some members of his family had received some threatening messages and this is why they decided to buy the Audi A8 vehicle.