Romanian anti-corruption prosecutors start new investigation in "Microsoft case"

Romanian anti-corruption prosecutors start new investigation in
By bne IntelliNews April 11, 2017

Romania’s National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) has started a criminal investigation into five people suspected of corruption in a new case related to the acquisition of Microsoft licences, the directorate announced on April 10. In addition, it has asked for the president’s approval to start a new corruption investigation into former Communications Minister Gabriel Sandu, who is already in prison for abuse of office. The damages estimated in the case amount to more than €50mn.

The Microsoft case is one of the largest corruption cases in Romania, with nine former ministers already charged with corruption. It involved large bribes given in the process of acquiring Microsoft licences by state institutions. Gabriel Sandu, former Piatra Neamt mayor Gheorghe Stefan, property tycoon Dorin Cocos and businessman Dumitru Nicolae have already been imprisoned

Sandu, who served as communications minister between December 2008 and September 2010, was sentenced in March last year to two years in prison for bribe taking and money laundering in another case related to the acquisition of Microsoft licences. In October last year, the high court increased Sandu’s sentence to three years in prison. 

According to a statement released by the DNA on April 10, the prosecutors have started investigations and imposed judicial control for 60 days on Ion Adrian Stanescu and Andrei Savulescu, two former employees of the communications ministry, suspected of abuse of office; Claudiu Florica and Dinu Pescariu, representatives of the D. Con-Net AG company, who are suspected of instigating abuse of office; and Calin Tatomir, who held the position of Microsoft Romania manager, on suspicion of complicity in the case.

According to the DNA’s statement, as the lease contract for Microsoft licenses was expiring in April 2009, Sandu decided to organise a public auction in order to conclude another software lease contract. Dinu Pescariu and Claudiu Florica, representatives of D. Con. Net, paid €2.1mn to Sandu through an intermediary in order to be favoured to win the contract. 

Sandu is now suspected of setting out restrictive criteria for taking part in the auction, which only Dim Soft SRL (part of a group of companies led by D.Con-Net AG) could possibly meet, giving the company an unfair advantage. The documentation setting out the criteria is believed to have been drafted by communication ministry employees Adrian Stanescu and Andrei Savulescu making them guilty of abuse of office too, the DNA said on April 10. 

Microsoft general manager Calin Tatomir has also been accused of involvement in favouring D. Con. Net to win the auction by bringing Dim Soft SRL to the association and setting the restrictive conditions.

The total value of the contract between the communications ministry and the association of companies was said to be €90.1mn. The licence supplier invoiced Dim Soft €38.78mn for the licences which resold them to the communications ministry for €90.1mn. This resulted in €51.4mn damages.

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