Powerful Romanian mayor charged with abuse of office in real estate fraud case

Romanian prosecutors from the National Anticorruption Department (DNA) charged Timisoara mayor Nicolae Robu with abuse of office in repeated form in a case related to the illegal sale of almost 1,000 nationalized houses in downtown Timisoara.

The damage in this case is estimated at EUR 40 million, according to DNA.

Former Timisoara mayor Gheorghe Coriolan Ciuhandu and Martin Staia, a former director of Timisoara City Hall, were also charged with abuse of office in repeated form in the same case. Timisoara deputy mayor Dan Diaconu and former deputy mayor Traian Constantin Stoia were charged with abuse of office as well.

Prosecutors say that, between 1996 and 2015, several civil servants from Timisoara City Hall, as well as other people, helped with the illegal sale of 967 houses, most of them located in the city’s Old Town, causing a damage of EUR 40 million to the state.

In January 1996, a law that regulated the legal status of some buildings destined for housing, buildings that were passed under state property during the communist regime came into force. This law gave former owners and heirs the right to regain the buildings abusively confiscated by the communist regime, or to receive compensation for those properties. Moreover, it also gave tenants the right to buy the buildings in which they lived, but only if they were able to prove, with documents, that they were living there at the time the law came into force.

Officials from Timisoara City Hall allegedly concluded hundreds of sale contracts with influential people from Timisoara, who were not tenants of those houses when the law came into force, and thus had no right to buy the properties. These people bought the houses at very low prices, prosecutors say.

Timisoara mayor Nicolae Robu wrote on his Facebook page that, of the almost 1,000 housing units believed to had been sold illegally, only two were sold with his signature, namely a one-room apartment with a surface of 26 sqm, and a two-room apartment covering 56 sqm. He also posted pictures of contracts, which, according to him, demonstrated that the sales were legal.

Nicolae Robu is a member of the National Liberal Party (PNL), and has been the mayor of Timisoara since 2012.

Irina Popescu, [email protected]

(Photo source: Nicolae Robu on Facebook)


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