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The business tycoon Ioan Niculae facing new charges in Romgaz case

Businessman Ioan Niculae was expected on Thursday at the headquarters of the Directorate for the Investigation of Organised Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT) to learn about the fresh charges levelled by the prosecutors against him in the Romgaz case: fraudulent removal of property from under lien, incitement to abuse of office and money laundering, judicial sources said.

The business tycoon's former wife and daughter also reported to DIICOT for being charged.

The prosecutors will also start criminal proceedings against some clerks of the Cadastre and Real Estate Publicity Office (OCPI) who are accused of having helped Nicholas shun the lien.

After DIICOT initiated in 2012 the criminal prosecution against Ioan Niculae, the prosecutors placed several of his properties under lien, but the OCPI clerks delayed procedures, thus allowing the businessman sell several of his properties.

Initially, Ioan Niculae was indicted alongside another 40 persons - civil servants holding leading positions with Romgaz, the Ministry of Economy, the National Energy Regulatory Authority and representatives of trading companies in Bucharest, for collusion and undermining the national economy. Former Minister of Economy Adriean Videanu is also among the accused.

They are accused of having conducted illegal activities which caused National Gas Company Romgaz SA and the consolidated state budget a prejudice of 126 million USD, and also jeopardized the National Energy System.

The prosecutors argue that the indicted persons approved the delivery by Romgaz of considerable amounts of natural gas to fertilizer producer Interagro owned by Ioan Niculae for far smaller prices than those usually charged by the gas producer and supplier, while shunning the legal regulations, as well as maintaining the facilities provided to Interagro, despite its significant arrears in paying for the gas supplies.

The prosecutors also uphold that as an effect of such illegal activity, Romgaz was unable to assign restock the reserves required for carrying out the national gas storage program and had to increase gas imports, which consequently endangered the National Energy System, as a strategic branch of the national economy and undermined the national economy.