Non-existent work on Romania's Transalpina highway brings another indictment for local 'Asphalt King'
Romanian businessman Nelu Iordache, currently under preventive arrest, and eight others were prosecuted by the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) for forgery and abuse for work performed by construction company Romstrade, owned by Iordache, on the Transalpina mountain highway.
According to the prosecutors, Romstrade illegally cashed in some EUR 5 million for road work that it never performed and for materials that were never purchased. This was financed by the Regional Roads and Bridges Direction in Craiova, which is part of the National Company for Freeways and National Roads (CNADNR). The money was recovered during the investigation.
In September 2008, Romstrade was assigned the contract to modernize the National Road 67C, also known as Transalpina, which connects the Alba and Gorj counties in Romania. For the 184 kilometers Romstrade was bound to receive EUR 345 million plus VAT. The contractor had to do the work and buy the materials first and then the state would reckon up the invoice.
The prosecutors found out that some of the supporting documents on which Romstrade cashed in the money were fake and the work described in these documents was never done. The prosecutors think that Nelu Iordache instigated some of his employees, who were also prosecuted, to forge the documents. Employees of the Regional Roads and Bridges Direction in Craiova were also indicted for approving the offset of the bills sent by Romstrade.
Nelu Iordache, who was known as one of the “asphalt kings” in Romania due to the infrastructure contracts he was assigned by the state, was arrested in December 2012 for allegedly embezzling EU funds worth EUR 5.5 million for the Nadlac – Arad highway.
He spent one and a half years in jail and at the beginning of May 2014 he moved to house arrest. During this time his company Romstrade lost most of its important contracts with the state. Iordache also lost control of low cost airline Blue Air, after the company went into insolvency and its main assets were sold.
Trasalpina, which is one of the most beautiful roads in Romania, hasn't been finished yet. Many portions of the road are still not marked and have no safety railing.
Andrei Chirileasa, [email protected]