Romanian prosecutors confirm new probe involving majority leader after journalistic investigation

Romania’s National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) confirmed that it has been investigating corruption offences that may be related to the Social Democratic Party (PSD) leader Liviu Dragnea for over a year. DNA made this announcement on Friday after local investigative journalism website Rise Project published a new piece about alleged corruption deeds involving Dragnea, quoting an apparent secret service document that was leaked to the journalists by a former officer.

The report, which was allegedly made by officers of the Interior Ministry’s secret service DGPI in 2011, contains information about a presumed crime network organized around local construction company Tel Drum, which Dragnea apparently used to defraud EU and government funds.

The report states that Liviu Dragnea, a former head of the Teleorman County Council, illegally privatized Tel Drum, which was the local infrastructure contractor in Teleorman county, and that he took control of the company through bearer shares. Dragnea has permanently denied any connection to the company. The document also shows that Dragnea approved large loans for infrastructure projects that were granted to Tel Drum, despite the fact that Teleorman, one of the poorest counties in Romania, had a weak financial situation.

The report also mentions alleged fictitious infrastructure works paid for from the state budget to Tel Drum. Rise Project journalists said they got the report from a former DGPI officer and that it should also exist in the service’s archive. They also got two former police officials to corroborate the existence of the report. However, DGPI firmly rejected that the respective report existed.

The same Rise Project article shows how PSD MPs changed a law draft that was passed by the Parliament to place DGPI under the interior minister’s control. The Parliament removed the Country’s Supreme Defense Council – CSAT from the procedure to name or dismiss the DGPI director leaving the full control over the service to interior minister Carmen Dan, Dragnea’s close collaborator since the days he was head of the Teleorman County Council.

While Rise Project journalists were preparing to release this new chapter in their series of articles about Lidiu Dragnea, the tax authority ANAF sent two antifraud inspectors to control the newspaper’s headquarters, on Thursday. Many jumped to accuse Dragnea of trying to intimidate the press, but the PSD leader denied any connection to the ANAF control at Rise Project and said that this was an “attempt to compromise him”.

Rise Project has published a series of articles related to Dragnea’s alleged illegal operations, carried out through a network of relatives and friends both in Romania and in Brazil. The PSD leader said he would sue the journalists for violating his right to privacy, according to Digi24.ro.

Meanwhile, the National Anticorruption Department (DNA) announced on Friday, July 7, that part of the aspects included in the journalistic investigation published by Rise Project are the subject of a criminal case opened by the DNA. In this case, the prosecutors started an in rem criminal investigation (on the facts) in February 2016, on charges of corruption. DNA also said in the press release that it also requested information from the authorities in Brazil.

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