The National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) announced the start of criminal prosecution proceedings against former Senator and current Constitutional Court (CCR) judge Toni Grebla for several crimes, influence peddling and receipt of undue benefits included.
”The prosecutors of the National Anticorruption Directorate — the Section for the combat of corruption related offenses, instructed the start of criminal prosecution proceedings against Toni Grebla, a former Senator (who held the lawmaker position until December 18, 2013) and current Constitutional Court judge, for having repeatedly resorted to influence peddling, having carried out two financial operations as commercial operations incompatible with the position of judge, with the purpose of obtaining for himself and others undue benefits in money, goods or other advantages, and having set up an organized crime group (that was to prepare and help use, at the customs authority, counterfeit customs clearance or commercial documents),” DNA said in a Thursday release to Agerpres.
The prosecutors show that, in collusion with others, Toni Grebla set up a crime group to initiate commercial relations (export of agri-food products) to the Russian Federation, via Turkey, so as to circumvent Russia’s decision to set a unilateral embargo on agri-food imports from the European Union.
The Intelligence and Internal Protection Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Gendarmerie Special Intervention Brigade assisted the prosecutors with this case.
Constitutional Court Judge Toni Grebla was brought up to the National Anti-corruption Department (DNA) by warrant, on suspicion of influence peddling. Grebla is suspected to have received electoral campaign materials during 2012, a BMW car and two dresses for his wife from his godson, businessman Ion Bircina, to intervene in support of the latter’s companies. DNA is expected to bring for hearing Grebla’s godson, judicial sources said for Mediafax.
When leaving the DNA offices Grebla said he made no statement to the prosecutors and that the deeds he is accused of have no connection with his activity as Constitutional Court Judge. He said he often borrows cars from Ion Bircina, but such things happen in a family.
“I’ve done no businesses from December 22 till now; I don’t have any shares with companies. Their claims have no connection whatsoever with the Constitutional Court. It’s my image in peril, that is why this disturbs me so much,” Grebla said.
In the same file reserve General Bartolomeu Savoiu was also up to DNA by warrant. Judicial sources say Savoiu was expected to be heard in connections with Grebla’s influence peddling accusations. According to the prosecutors, Savoiu is suspected of using, at the customs office, false or fake transportation custom documents. The same accusations are brought to Toni Grebla and to Ion Bircina.
In a press conference on Thursday, the Constitutional Court President Augustin Zegrean referred to the Toni Grebla case. Zegrean said Grebla can be investigated ‘without approval from anyone’ but cannot be suspended from CCR until arrest is decided upon or reference in court is to start.
“For us it was a huge surprise, it’s for the very first time when a judge is accused, no other judge from CCR was in such a situation,” Zegrean said, adding this is regrettable. On the other hand he said resignation is a personal decision and Grebla cannot be requested to resign. “If he is acquitted he is to get back to work,” Zegrean said.
“DNA should go ahead with its work, justice must do its job, we have to sort things out to the end so that no suspicions remain. We hope these institutions rule on the matter as soon as possible,” Zegrean also said.
The CCR President said also that the Court’s activity will not be affected, legally speaking, because the activity can go on with a minimum of six judges.
CCR judges are suspended from office from the start of criminal procedures against them, but in order to be presented to court of arrested an approval is needed from the Standing Bureau of the Chamber of Deputies, the Senate, or from the Romanian President, depending on the case, upon the request of the Prosecutor General with the Supreme Court, the CCR specified on Thursday.