A Romanian appeals court is due to rule in a curious corruption case in which the two defendants, a former chief of police and a suspended judge, stand accused of failing to disclose their membership of the Freemasons and allegedly using their connections in the secretive society to accept bribes and cover up crimes. Originally arrested among several others, mostly regional police chiefs, on charges including bribery, influence peddling, and abuse of office, Liviu Popa, ex-chief inspector of Bihor County Police and judge Ovidiu Galea were subsequently charged with making false statements for failing to disclose their membership of the National Grand Lodge of Romania (MLNR).
Telephone interceptions, along with the testimonies of other masons, and the documents submitted by the MLNR showed that the two were members of the “Criss Land” Loge. Popa had been a mason since 2007 rising to the status of “Great Mason” in 2009. In none of the statements of interest submitted during the period 2008-2016, did Popa declare his masonic affiliation. According to the masonic record, which includes a photograph of the magistrate, and his identification data masonic activity, Galea was recommended by Popa and the businessman Ioan Mintaş to join the Freemasons in 2014. In none of the statements of interests submitted during 2008-2016, did Galea or Popa declare their masonic affiliation.
Under Romanian law, government officials and public workers, including police officers and judges must declare any affiliation they have with NGOs in an official statement of interests. The defendants have argued that they did not need to declare their membership of the order because although the Grand Masonic Lodge is a registered NGO, the local lodge, of which they were members, is not.
In the indictment under which the men were arrested it says that they used their connections in the masons to offer and receive bribes and cover up crimes.
If found guilty, the defendants could face up to 2 years in prison.