A former Romanian minister who earlier resigned from his post over fraud allegations, is among the candidates with high chances of representing Romania in the next European Parliament after the May 26 elections.
The country will have 33 representatives in the next European Parliament, and will thus rank sixth among EU member states by the number of MEPs.
The Social Democratic Party (PSD), the main ruling party in Romania and the National Liberal Party (PNL) can thus send around 10 representatives in the next European Parliament, according to projections based on the latest polls. The 2020 USR+PLUS Alliance, which is a new political force made of Save Romania Union (USR) and the party of former prime minister Dacian Ciolos – PLUS, could get 5 or 6 MEP seats. The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), PSD’s junior ruling coalition partner and PRO Romania, a new party which has managed to draw some important PSD members in recent months, both could get 3 or 4 seats. https://www.romania-insider.com/european-elections-2019-romania-candidates.
ALDE has chosen some of its senior members to open the list for the European Elections. Norica Nicolai, who has been a member of the European Parliament since 2009, is first on the list. Former culture minister Daniel Barbu is ALDE’s second candidate, followed by Renate Weber, who has been an MEP since 2007. Former ministers Varujan Vosganian, Ovidiu Silaghi and Andrei Gerea are next on the party’s list.
Romanian Economy Minister Varujan Vosganian resigned from office on October 7, 2013 over fraud allegations. Tendering his resignation, Vosganian made his best to defend his innocence and avoid criminal prosecution. He claimed he decided to quit because the Senate, by a vote, proved his innocence and also showed the trust in him. https://euobserver.com/justice/121697
After participating in the 1989 Romanian revolution, he has been a member of the Romanian parliament since first free elections in 1990. In 1990, he became president of the Union of Armenians in Romania and he was twice (1990–1992 and 1992–1996) elected a member of the Chamber of Deputies, and a Senator (1996–2000, on the lists of the Union of Right Forces, and 2004–2016, on the lists of the National Liberal Party).
Between 1996 and 2003, he was the leader of the Union of Right Forces (Uniunea Forţelor de Dreapta), a right wing liberal party, which was eventually merged into the National Liberal Party in 2003. Vosganian was Romania's Minister of Economy and Commerce (2006–2008) in the Tăriceanu cabinet and Minister of Economy in the Ponta cabinet (2012–2013). Since 2016, he has been a member of the Chamber of Deputies on the lists of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE).
Vosganian’s resignation came after the prosecutors charged Romanian businessman, officials in gas delivery case. Businessman Ioan Niculae, owner of the company InterAgro, was summoned to appear before the prosecutors of the Department for Investigation of Organized Crime and Terrorism, DIICOT. Niculae was accused of having undermined the national economy, in a case in which 40 people were investigated, among which were former and present managers of Romgaz, and several secretaries of state in the Economy Ministry.
Niculae’s companies were the main beneficiaries of the illegal measures taken by the management of Romgaz and by two former Economy Ministers, Varujan Vosganian and Adriean Videanu. DIICOT prosecutors said that the six chemical plants owned by Niculae illegally bought gas at preferential prices from the state-owned company. Things started in the period between 2006 and 2008, when former Economy Minister Varujan Vosganian approved, signed, and promoted in the government, together with three secretaries of state, six orders according to which lower commercial taxes were to be paid by Interagro. The aforementioned ministerial orders allowed Interagro to be the main beneficiary of those measures. https://www.nineoclock.ro/2015/02/03/diicot-asks-again-for-criminal-investigation-of-varujan-vosganian-and-adriean-videanu/
Varujan Vosganian sensed the danger of having to appear before the DIICOT prosecutors, and carried out an intense image campaign on all television channels, in which he repeatedly claimed his innocence. Moreover, the former minister asked to be heard by the DIICOT prosecutors only in the presence of Prime Minister Emil Boc and of President Traian Basescu.
The conclusion of the investigation carried out by the DIICOT prosecutors was that InterAgro bought gas from domestic sources, therefore at a very low price, although its debts to Romgaz amounted to 541,138,399 million lei.
Adriean Videanu, who acted as economy minister between 2008 and 2010, approved and promoted in the government, together with Secretary of State Tudor Serban, two memoranda by which the deliveries of cheap gas to InterAgro were continued, although Ioan Niculae's company had huge debts, the payment of which had been rescheduled several times. In order to honor its obligations, Romgaz was forced to buy gas from the private company Petrom, and to resort to the strategic gas reserves. https://canberra.mae.ro/en/node/435
According to Romanian media, recently several officials and businessmen have been summoned to the Department for the Investigation of Organized Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT). The causes of the summons to the department are investigations underway into the abuse of office and corruption cases.
One of the officials summoned to the DIICOT is a senator and former minister of economy and finance, Varujan Vosganian.
On February 2, 2015, the DIICOT appealed to the Prosecutor-General’s Office, asking it to strip the former economy minister, Varujan Vosganian, of his immunity and open a legal procedure for a criminal case. The Romanian minister is being accused of abuse of office and embezzlement of state property. On February 3, 2015, the Senate decided to strip Varujan Vosganian of his deputy immunity.
After Varujan Vosganian lost his immunity, the Prosecutor-General’s Office requested the Senate to lift immunity of Adrian Videanu, former economy minister of Romania, accusing him of similar charges.
The DIICOT suspects that Varujan Vosganian financed organized criminal groups from December 2006 to December 2008, and Videanu as his successor from December 2008 to September 2010 followed his suit. The department also said that they used Romqaz – Romanian gas company to sell gas to private Interagro company at a discount price and thus inflicted huge damages to the state. https://www.economica.net/ioan-niculae-si-adriean-videanu-au-mers-la-diicot-in-dosarul-romgaz-92-milioane-dolari-reduceri-acordate-ilegal_108270.html
Criminal cases launched by the prosecutor’s office indicated that Vosganian and Videanu sanctioned the sale of discounted gas to Interagro illegally and as a result, the Romanian gas company was inflicted damages worth $92m dollars. In the meantime, Varujan Vosganian also figured in another criminal case, that is, in a case against the former communications minister Gabriel Sandu, who was arrested and then was put under house arrest.
Addressing senators, Vosganian shed tears in an effort to justify himself and cover up his corruption, reading prayers from a book of prayers and anointing himself with “sacred oil” he brought with him. Another worthwhile issue was feebleness of Vosganian that occurred during the voting. When the parliament was discussing the motion of the DIICOT against a group of former officials, accused of corruption and bribery, and were absent from the parliamentary session, Vosganian was present to vote in his own favor.
On February 12, 2015, the Senate held a secret voting to launch a criminal case against Varujan Vosganian of the PNL. 132 of the 168 senators were present. The result was 56 votes in favour, 71 against the request and five votes were annulled. DIICOT’s request was declined.
Speaking to journalists after the senate session, Vosganian, in response to a question why he cried, cunningly said that his eyes are always sad. He also thanked the Senate for not backing the prosecutor’s motion.
The co-chair of the PNL, Alina Gorghiu, condemned the voting, saying it was not the position of the party and the senate’s decision did not contribute to justice. The prime minister, Victor Ponta, also described the voting as a big mistake. Prosecutor Georgiana Hossu in a comment said that the case would be continued once fresh evidence is found. Romanian President Klaus Iohannis also lashed out at the Senate’s move, saying that the voting revealed that the senators had not understood the importance of changes.