Convictions of Political Big Shots and Tragic Losses in Natural Disaster

Romania, 14 Aug - 10 Sep 2016
Central bank attempts to regain public trust by transparency initiative after conviction of former vice governor ++ Former Minister Oprea investigated in criminal court regarding murder trial ++ Romanian victims in the Amatrice earthquake receive compensation payment. by Alina Agafiţei
Central bank attempts to regain public trust by transpareny initiative after conviction of former vice governor

The former vice governor of the National Bank of Romania (BNR), Bogdan Olteanu, has been held in custody by the prosecutors of the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) with charges involving traffic influence in the case file of Romanian business man Sorin Ovidiu Vîntu. During the hearings, Olteanu admitted to having discussed with Vîntu the appointment of Liviu Mihaiu as the head of the Danube Delta area in 2008. However, Olteanu did not admit to receiving money for the appointment – which is believed to be up to 2 million euros. Apparently, Vîntu had an economic interest in this area in Eastern Romania. He has been a part of Olteanu’s hearing, being brought to the headquarters of the DNA from the prison Rahova, where is currently serving a conviction.

Liviu Mihaiu, who was responsible for the Danube Delta area between 2008 and 2009, wrote a statement on his facebook page, denying the implications of those mentioned above in the scandal.

After becoming a topic on the national agenda, the Olteanu case stirred even more talks. The BNR released, for the first time, the paychecks of the members of the executive board in an attempt of providing transparency between the central bank and the Romanian people. The governor of the BNR, Mugur Isărescu, receives a monthly salary of 42,727 lei (9,598 euros), with a bonus of 18,476 lei (4,850 euros) for being a member of the Administration Council. At the end of the work contract, taking into account the legal premises, the employees of the National Bank also benefit from a 12 month salary indemnization, calculated on the basis of their last paycheck. The highest positions are not the only ones well paid at BNR, with the territorial ones showing off figures between 5,000 and 15,000 lei (1,123 and 3,369 euros). With the minimum wage in Romania of around 400 euros (1,800 lei) and the Romanian president, Klaus Iohannis, with a monthly paycheck of around 15,000 lei (3,369 euros) – it appears that the banking sector in one of the poorest EU member states is a sound career choice.

Former Minister Oprea investigated in criminal court regarding murder trial

The National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) released a demand for a criminal court investigation of Gabriel Oprea, member of the parliament and former Minister of Internal Affairs. He is being charged for abusing the privileges given by his position as a member of the government. The issue has gained notoriety since October 2015, when Bogdan Gigină, the lead motorcyclist in the official police convoy that escorted Oprea, died on duty. The legislation states that – other than the prime minister and the president – ministers are to be escorted by the police only in cases of emergency. While Oprea claimed the deadly accident happened during such a case of emergency, his driver revealed that Oprea was on his way home.

Petre Tobă, another former Internal Affairs Minister, is also involved in this investigation – accused of corruption and withholding relevant evidence from the investigators in the Oprea-Gigină case. This trial comes as a hit to Oprea, after he lost the Doctor in Law status due to plagiarism through an order signed by the Minister for Education, Mircea Dumitru.

Gabriel Oprea denied any wrongdoing via facebook after he was informed about the DNA prosecutor’s decision. He insisted that it was not an official convoy, just a device destined to escort him. He claims that since 2000, there is a rule that says the ministers have certain protection benefits when it comes to the involvement of the police in their transportation. Oprea did not admit to asking the police officers escorting him to speed up to more than 80 kilometres per hour and claims he is not guilty.

The Senate, the upper house in the bicameral parliament, will vote on the request of the DNA to prosecute Oprea on September 19th.

Romanian victims in the Amatrice earthquake receive compensation payment

On August 24th, the small town of Amatrice in Italy was hit by a 6.2 magnitude earthquake. 292 people were killed among them 11 Romanians. Romanian Prime Minister Dacian Cioloș participated in a commemoration ceremony to pay his respects to the victims. The Romanian government declared September 2nd a national day of mourning, in the memory of those who lost their lives.

The Government decided that it will provide financial support of 6,000 euros for the children left orphans after the disaster, 1,000 euros for every person deceased, 10,000 euros for the families or the single persons whose houses were destroyed in a proportion bigger than 50 percent, and 3,000 euros for those who did not have a personal residence, but now find themselves homeless. More than 50 families will benefit from this material support.

Between 8,000 and 10,000 Romanian citizens live in the regions affected by the earthquake, Amatrice and Accumoli.

Source: Ștefan Jurcă | CC BY 2.0

National Bank of Romania (BNR) in Bucharest

Related topics

Bogdan Olteanu
Dacian Cioloş
Gabriel Oprea
National Anti-Corruption Directorate (DNA)
Romanian National Bank (BNR)

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