Bucharest Tribunal Okays trial in the TelDrum file

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Bucharest Tribunal has ruled on Friday that the trial in the TelDrum company can start. Businessmen Petre Pitiş and Mircea Vişan, representatives of TelDrum, a company allegedly controlled by PSD chairman Liviu Dragnea, have been indicted by the anti-corruption prosecutors for EU fund embezzlement.

“The Bucharest Tribunal ascertains the legality of referring the court with the indictment, the evidence and prosecution and ruled for the start of the trial against defendants Pitiş Petre, Neda Florea, Vişan Mircea, SC Tel Drum SA, Ion Florian, SC WFA Impex SRL,” reads a tribunal note.

In another part of the TelDrum file DNA prosecutors are also investigating PSD chairman Liviu Dragnea for setting up a criminal group, abuse of office and crimes related to EU funds embezzlement, deeds allegedly committed when he was chairman of the Teleorman County Council.

According to the National Anti-corruption Directorate, in 2015, the Ministry of European Funds has Okayed a project proposed by TelDrum within a European programme “Increasing the Economic Competitiveness”. TelDrum was supposed to buy a mobile station of asphalt surfacing within this programme to increase the economic competitiveness of the company. The project should have been implemented by December 31, 2015.

TelDrum got more than RON 4 million to buy the mobile station, but prosecutors say the TelDrum representatives, Mircea Vişan, Petre Pitiş and Neda Florea have broken the public procurement law and that the price of the device would have been artificially increased in order to embezzle the money granted by the EU.

Romania ranked first on proved EU money frauds, according to the OLAF 2017 report released in the summer of last year. OLAF reported that Romania has concluded 11 investigations into the use of EU funds managed or spent in whole or in part at national  or regional level  in 2017, among which eight had been closed with recommendations. So, our country tops the ranking on the concluded investigations but on the recommendations as well. Hungary ranks second and Poland comes third.

Moreover, OLAF set TelDrum case as an example for an EU fund embezzlement case.

Two investigations OLAF conducted into projects financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) for road constructions in Romania illustrate this trend. OLAF’s investigations uncovered that the representatives of a county municipality, the beneficiary, had colluded with representatives of the company who designed the technical specifications for the road, in order to establish restrictive criteria in the tender documentation that would benefit one particular economic operator. This company won the contract, while the rest of the tenderers were disqualified during the initial evaluation phase. The two colluding organisations falsified a large number of documents, including the technical project and memorandum for the road construction, as well as the structure checks. These falsified documents were not only used by the municipality in the tender procedure related to the works, but were also later submitted to support a claim for reimbursement from the Managing Authority, resulting in the undue allocation of EU funds,” the report reads.

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