Romanian organized crime watchdog pushes for criminal investigation against former economy ministers
The Romanian Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT) is pushing for criminal proceedings to be launched against two former economy ministers accused of acting against state interests by granting discounts for LNG supply by incumbent Romgaz to Interago, a private company, owned by Romanian billionaire Ioan N., the local media reported at the start of September.
“The chief of DIICOT asked […] the general prosecutor […] to notify the Senate, respectively the president of Romania, with requests concerning the initiation of criminal proceedings against the current and the former ministers of economy, Varujan V. and Adriean V., for having supported Ioan Niculae and allegedly used Romgaz in the interest of Interagro,” Romanian news portal Antena3 reported.
Varujan V. and Andriean V. are accused of passing laws which effectively meant that fertilizer group Interago gained huge discounts on LNG delivery from state gas incumbent Romgaz.
The DIICOT believes that the ministers’ actions cost the state some USD 130 mln. According to prosecutors, Romgaz effectively became the sole client of a private company, which allegedly sponsored an organized crime group in Russia.
Ioan N. is the richest man in Romania with an estimated net worth of USD 1.1 bln, according to Forbes magazine. The DIICOT report accuses him of running a Russian mafia group. This means that the former economy ministers may also face charges of acting to fund organized crime.
The press has accused Ioan N. of underhanded business dealings in the past, especially with regard to his tobacco company, Tobbaco Galaxy. The entrepreneur has denied all allegations of illegal activity.
Varujan V. held the post of economy minister between December 2006 and December 2008, his successor Adriean V. was in office until December 2010.