Former Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta was acquitted on Thursday of charges of forgery, complicity in tax evasion and money laundering. He was tried alongside former Transport Minister Dan Sova who was also acquitted of complicity in the abuse of office, forgery, tax evasion and money laundering.
In the same case, known as the Turceni-Rovinari file, the former general director of the Turceni Energy Complex, Dumitru Cristea, received a four year sentence for abuse of office, while Octavian Laurentiu Graure, the former economic director of the Turceni Energy Complex, and Laurentiu Ciurel, former general manager of SC Energy Complex Rovinari SA, were acquitted.
Ponta and Sova were accused by the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) of using their law firm to forge energy sales contracts and to facilitate tax evasion and money laundering. Prosecutors argued that from October 2007 to December 2008, Victor Ponta, through his own law firm, received over 181,000 lei (39,000 euros) from Dan Sova’s “Sova and Associates” law firm, for joint activities, which the prosecutors alleged, were never carried out.
Following his acquittal, Ponta took the opportunity to criticise the DNA chief, Laura Codruta Kovesi for the ‘painful period’ that he endured during the four-year-long case. “Beyond the years of humiliation, the loss of PSD presidency and office of Prime Minister, I would like everyone to think if it is normal for us to live in a country where Kovesi and her abusers, falsify evidence and violate the law making you into a “criminal” for their petty interests, and if it is normal for them never to respond to these crimes. I have learned a lot from this painful period – I will remember this lesson in all my future work,” he said.
Ponta was the first Romanian prime minister to be indicted for corruption during his mandate. It led to his resignation as leader of the Social Democratic Party to be replaced by the current leader Liviu Dragnea.
In November 2015 he resigned as prime minister following large anti-corruption protests triggered by a fire in a nightclub, which killed 65 people in October 2015.
He remains an MP and was appointed as a pro-bono adviser to Serbian President Alexandar Vucic after receiving Serbian citizenship.