DNA denies ongoing case against ex-PM Ponta on Rompetrol’s debt write-off


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According to a report by Euractiv.ro, former Prime Minister Victor Ponta ‘is eyed by a DNA investigation related to a government decision he signed and that enabled Kazakh company KazMunayGas not to pay USD 600 million, representing Rompetrol’s historical debt. The article says, quoting governmental sources, that the anti-corruption prosecutors have seized documents on the agreement memorandum with KazMunayGas.

However, later on, the National Anti-corruption Directorate (DNA) told Agerpres that it doesn’t confirm there is an ongoing investigation in this case.

The Government avoided to comment on the precise topic. “We cannot comment on punctual cases, but the Government, as a general practice, is promptly responding to the requests of the Prosecutor’s offices. It’s not a political issue to elaborate here, it’s a technical matter between institutions (…) The Government’s Secretariat General is answering any request (…) It’s a technical issue between SGG and the prosecutor’s offices,” the Gov’t spokesperson Liviu Iolu said.

The above-mentioned website also says that the case was initiated in 2015 when the prosecutors had also started in rem criminal prosecution for influence peddling and bribe taking. Judicial sources have told Euroactiv.ro that Victor Ponta is among those targeted in the file. Ponta would have signed a government decision in January 2014 that sealed the agreement memorandum with KazMunayGas that bought Rompetrel, although the Constitutional Court had denied validating the memorandum by law.

The article also says that prosecutors are finding suspect Ponta’s frequent visits to Turkey, as they occurred after signing the memorandum with KazMunayGas. The sources would have also revealed that the former premier used to talk to the phone during these visits using a Turkish phone card for private calls.

The judiciary sources said that in one of these visits to Turkey to undergo a knee surgery, Victor Ponta would have been invited by Turkish President Recep Tayyp Erdogan to one of his mansions.

The report disclosed that the DNA had asked for several states’ help to check the moves of several sums of money made by third parties who would have been agents between KazMunayGaz and Romanian state officials. The anti-corruption prosecutors would have filed several requests for letters rogatory in this respect.

Commenting the report on Wednesday night, ex-PM Ponta stated that he is not the one at stake here, but the fact that a major private company from China wanted to buy KazMunayGaz and to invest in Romania.

I kept on wondering today why all this Securitate-like propaganda has suddenly reheated the pottage related to me concerning the write-off of the Rompetrol debts? Am I so important so that you can make up things that are obviously completely idiot? That we allegedly erased any debt although the law and the government ordinance clearly stipulated that we talk about selling state shares; or that I negotiated in Turkey in 2015 after my surgery; or that the Ponta Government erased some debts that no longer existed since 2010, a reason for which DIICOT prosecuted several former ministers. The most comic thing is the one referring to Erdogan’s ranch, as if he was some kind of George Bush Jr, and Turkey and Texas (or Ankara and Astana) were the same,” Ponta posted on Facebook.

He underlined that the stake is that CEFC wanted to invest in Romania.

No, the stake is not me this time, but the fact that CEFC (the largest private company in China with tens of billions of investments all over the world) wanted to buy Kazmunaygas (including Rompetrol) and to invest in our poor Romania for 2 billions to create here a regional energy hub! And the Securitate (editor note: former communist secret police), through its propaganda, doesn’t want any other investments in our country except the ones totally controlled by them! So, it’s about money and politics! And the one that is going to lose again….is Romania!” Ponta concluded his post.

The organized crime prosecutors (DIICOT) are investigating the alleged criminal actions in the Rompetrol II file, targeting the privatization of the Petromidia refinery between 1999 and 2000 and the ordinance issued by Nastase Gov’t in 2003 that practically rolled up Petromidia’s historical debt of almost USD 600 million.

In 2000, Rompetrol group, led by late businessman Dinu Patriciu, bought the Petromidia refinery for USD 50 M after the privatization by Turkish company Akmaya failed.

In exchange, Rompetrol committed to pay the historical debt of USD 600 M. Three years later, in October 2003, Nastase Gov’t turned Rompetrol’s arrears to the state budget, worth USD 603 M, into maturity bonds of seven years.

Later on, Patriciu sold Rompetrol to KazMunayGas, the state-owned oil and gas company of Kazakhstan for a sum of money that is still unknown at present.

Four Romanian ex-ministers are prosecuted in the Rompetrol II file, former Finance minister Mihai Tanasescu, former minister of Economy and Commerce, Dan Ioan Popescu and ex-Finance ministers Sebastian Vladescu and Gheorghe Pogea.

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