‘Microsoftgate’ scandal rocks Romania

The Palace of Parliament. Bucharest, July 2014. [Stefan Jurca/Flickr]

The Romanian National Anti-corruption Directorate (DNA) is currently seeking approval to begin criminal investigations for office misconduct and corruption in an unfolding scandal the press has dubbed ‘MicrosoftGate’. EURACTIV Romania reports.

The accusations are related to public procurement procedures for Microsoft licenses intended for schools. Ministers are suspected of having taken bribes for facilitating the conclusion and ensuring the continuation of an illegal contract with Fujitsu Siemens Computers for leasing Microsoft licenses at over-inflated prices.

The case started last summer after the Control Body of the Prime Minister was notified about the existence of a series of irregularities at the Ministry of Information Society and the Ministry of Education concerning the leasing of IT educational licenses.

Several former ministers, heads of the Secretariat-General of the government, as well as Microsoft officials, have been questioned by Romanian prosecutors. More recently, the Chief Prosecutor of the DNA requested that the general prosecutor of the office attached to the High Court of Cassation and Justice seek approval from the Senate, the Chamber of Deputies, the Romanian president and the European Parliament to start criminal investigations against nine former Romanian ministers.

Political scandal

The accusations cover the Romanian political spectrum. The list includes:

  • 3 former Ministers of Education: Ecaterina Andronescu, Alexandru Athanasiu and Daniel Funeriu
  • 4 former Ministers of Communication: Dan Nica – currently member of the European Parliament, Valerian Vreme, Adriana ?ic?u and Gabriel Sandu
  • the former Coordinating Minister of the Secretariat-General of the Government, Seban Mihailescu
  • the former Minister of Finance, Mihai Tanasescu

The ministers have publicly proclaimed their innocence, insisting that they have done nothing illegal, and that they have not requested or received any bribes.

The case also involves several Romanian businessmen, closely connected to politics, who are suspected of having acted as intermediaries in the contract.

When Bulgaria and Romania joined the EU on 1 January 2007, shortcomings remained regarding judicial reform and the fight against corruption. In the case of Bulgaria, problems also remained regarding the fight against organised crime.

A Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) was set up to assist both countries with judiciary matters after their EU accession. Seven years after their accession, the CVM is still ongoing and will continue under the next EU Commission. 

So far, the Commission reported under CVM every six months on progress with judicial reform, the fight against corruption and, concerning Bulgaria, the fight against organised crime.

The last report on Romania from January 20154 was seen as positive.

>> Read: Commission issues positive monitoring report on Romania

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