Former Romanian transport minister questioned by anticorruption department

Newsroom 21/08/2013 | 09:05

Liberal MP and former transport minister Ovidiu Silaghi arrived today at the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) after earlier this week the institution has initiated the formalities to start criminal proceedings against him on corruption charges.

Silaghi has allegedly accepted EUR 200,000 bribe from Romanian businessman Nelu Iordache to help him cancel the decision of the Romanian National Company of Motorways and National Roads (CNADNR) to terminate a contract and to not proceed with the termination of other contracts. In addition to this, prosecutors say that in 2012, as transport minister, Silaghi used his position to force Iordache – who at that time controlled the Blue Air low cost airline – to operate more flights from the Satu Mare airport.

Silaghi is also suspected of electoral fraud in the 2012 referendum on impeaching President Traian Basescu.

Silaghi was nominated for a new term as transport minister but he withdrew his candidacy this Monday. His nomination was made by PM Victor Ponta last month after the former transport minister, Relu Fenechiu, stepped down. He was found guilty on graft charges and sentenced to five years in prison. Silaghi, who is a member of the National Liberal Party (PNL), has previously served as transport minister between May 2012 and December 2012. PNL is expected to make a new nomination for the position.

Silaghi’s nomination has fuelled the ongoing disputes between the PM the president Traian Basescu who expressed his dissatisfaction over the Ponta’s proposal.

Silaghi graduated in mechanical engineering from the Transylvania University in Brasov in 1987 and has a master’s degree in public administration from the Vasile Goldis University in Arad. Until 1990 he worked as an engineer in his native city. Over the next 14 years he managed various companies and between 1996 and 2004 he was president of the Satu Mare Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture.

In 1990 Silaghi joined PNL, holding various leadership positions within the party over the years. In 2001 he became president of the party’s Satu Mare branch.

In 2004 he was elected to the Chamber of Deputies for the Satu Mare county. As MP he was part of the Committee for Budget, Finance and Banks (until September 2005), the Committee for Information Technology and Communications (after September 2005), and the Committee for Industries and Services (after February 2007).

In January 2007 he became a member of the European Parliament for the PNL.

Between April 2008 and December 2008 he served as minister for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises, Trade, Tourism and Liberal Professions.

Simona Bazavan

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