Ex-Health minister Sorina Pintea arrested for 30 days. Case is escalating

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Bucharest Tribunal has ruled on Saturday to place former Health minister Sorina Pintea under preventive arrest for 30 days. She is charged with taking bribe of EUR 10,000 and RON 120,000 (almost EUR 25,000) , representing 7 per cent of a public procurement contract. Pintea is manager of the County Hospital of Baia Mare, north-western Romania.

The case is more complicated. The former PSD Minister of Heath seems to have had an accomplice, who cooperated with the anti-corruption prosecutors before the sting operation in the minister’s office at the hospital in Baia Mare on Friday.

In his turn, the accomplice had been reported by the businessman who had been asked to give bribe to sell his products in the hospital managed by Sorina Pintea.

Anti-corruption prosecutors say in the preventive arrest report that Sorina Pintea had talked about the bribe and she knew what is in the black bag in her office. DNA argues that Pintea proved “perseverance and ease” in taking the bribe.

Prosecutors show that, when she found out from the accomplice about the RON 120,000 in the black bag, Pintea exclaimed “Awesome“, and then she said “Perfect” when the businessman agreed to pay 7 per cent from the contract’s value as bribe.

Anti-corruption prosecutors started investigations in this case early this year, after Sorina Pintea would have cashed in the first tranche of the two bribe payments.

The whistle-blower is the businessman who had obtained a contract with the County Hospital in Baia Mare, a contract worth RON 2.3 million, and who was interested in continuing the contract with the hospital. The businessman went to the National Anti-corruption Directorate and admitted that, through an accomplice, Sorina Pintea would have asked him EUR 10,000 in December 2019 and that she kept asking him more money up to 7 per cent of the total value of the contract.

Investigators say they tracked down this accomplice, whose identity is not known for now, and caught him in the act while receiving RON 120,000. The accomplice was taken for hearings and he confessed the former minister’s involvement in this case. The accomplice would have agreed to cooperate with the prosecutors and to wear a microphone. Wiretaps reveal conversations involving Sorina Pintea right before the sting operation.

Negotiations have taken place before the payment because Sorina Pintea had been initially offered a 3 pc bribe of the total value of the contract, but she would have refused and insisted to get 7 per cent of the contract, practically more than double.

Sorina Pintea’s son has also reacted in this case, posting on his Facebook account a video mentioning the name of PSD senator of Maramures, Liviu Pop, in this case, who would have been the beneficiary of certain sums of money received by Sorina Pintea. Later on, Pintea’s son deleted the video post, while Liviu Pop denied any involvement.

Pintea’s son suggested he knows about all this case from Baia Mare mayor, who might be the accomplice who agreed to cooperate with DNA.

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