A Rise Project investigation, whose first part has been released on Wednesday, revealed the connections of Social Democrat chairman Liviu Dragnea with profitable companies having money-making contracts with the state, as well as his alleged assets and properties in Brazil.
The Rise Project investigation writes about Liviu Dragnea’s links to two of his former high school colleagues, Mugurel Gheorghias, manager and shareholder of Tel Drum company and businessman Costel Comana, who killed himself in 2015 during a plane flight from Brazil to Costa Rica.
Practically, the Rise Project journalists say that Comana’s affairs lead to Liviu Dragnea, after they have dogged the money and tracked down secret affairs in Brazil, all on the SocDem leaders’ friends.
Mugurul Gheorghias is nicknamed “Melcul/Snail” and is Dragnea’s former faculty colleague and rock band mate. He is also shareholder at Tel Drum, a company privatized by the Teleorman County Council in 2002, a council led by Dragnea back then.
Rise Project claim that a consistent part of the money of the privatized company originates from the businesses clinched with the Teleorman local authorities during the time when Dragnea was either prefect or the president of the county council.
Liviu Dragnea has repeatedly denied his connections with Tel Drum.
Mugurel Gheorghias has set up an investment company for hotels, restaurants and other real estate businesses since 2010. According to the source, he has placed money named “as direct investments from Romania” in Brazil in 2010-2011.
Gheorghias has founded the M&J Investimentos Turísticos LTDA in 2010 and teamed up with a local, Brazilin Campos Junior, but who got only one percent of the company.
The Brazilian man was useful for the company’s extended contracts, as the local laws compel foreigners to co-opt at least one native in their companies, Rise Projects recounts.
Anonymous locals from Brazil told the Romanian journalists that Campos was practically Dragnea’s driver when the Romanian politician used to come to Fortaleza, Brazil, where he would have spent a lot of vacations. The Rise Project journalists also say they have identified the villa with the pool and tennis court where Dragnea, Comana, Gheorghias and other acquaintances used to stay while in Brazil.
Costel Comana, the millionaire who killed himself, Dragnea’s other colleague, also set up two companies in South America, with the help of the same Campos.
Asked by the Bucharest media on Wednesday about his vacations in Brazil, Liviu Dragnea said: “I have travelled to Brazil for 11 years and I let you know that I still intend to go there, the way I went to other places in the world. I stayed in Brazil, in many places. Brazil is a big country. I have done nothing illegal. As far as I know, I still have the right to travel freely in this world. Period.”