ROMANIA NEWS

                  Romanian Prince Becomes Wanted Person to Serve Jail                            Sentence in Corruption Case

BUCHAREST, Dec 19, 2020:: Paul-Phillipe al Romaniei, also known as Prince Paul of Romania, the grandson of King Carol II of Romania, has become a wanted person as the Police are trying to get him to jail, where he has to serve a 40-month sentence in a corruption case. Romania’s High Court (ICCJ) on December 17 announced the final sentences in the "Royal Farm" corruption case, including a final 40-month sentence for Prince Paul. On Thursday evening, the Police went to his residence in Romania to take him into custody, but couldn’t find him. His wife, Lia, reportedly told the police that he was in Portugal, according to G4Media.ro.

The case in which Prince Paul was convicted is related to the illegal restitution of a large land plot in northern Bucharest (28 hectares), part of the former Royal Farm, and 47 hectares of forest in Snagov, which took place in 2007 and 2008. Prince Paul had already sold the rights for the two land plots to Israeli diamond tycoon Beny Steinmetz and his associates in 2006. The prosecutors argued that Prince Paul didn't have the right to claim those assets in the first place as he was officially recognized as a legal heir of King Carol II in early 2012. The damage caused by the group who orchestrated this illegal restitution was estimated at EUR 145 mln.

The High Court also ruled a five-year sentence for Israeli businessman Beny Steinmetz, who is believed to be one of the main beneficiaries of this illegal restitution. Steinmetz also stands trial in Switzerland for allegedly having paid USD 10 million in bribes to a wife of Guinea’s late president Lansana Conte for mining contracts in the country. Romanian businessman Remus Truica, a former cabinet director of prime minister Adrian Nastase, and a key person in the “Royal Farm” deal, got the highest sentence - 7 years.

Tal Silberstein, former political consultant of PM Nastase and PM Calin Popescu Tăriceanu, then a consultant of the Liberal Democrat Party and former president Traian Basescu, also got a 5-year sentence. Journalist Dan Andronic received a suspended three-year sentence, and the lawyer Robert Rosu was sentenced to 5 years in prison. The damage in the case amounts to over EUR 145 million, over EUR 135 mln accounting for the value of the lands of the former Royal Farm located in Baneasa close to Bucharest and almost EUR 10 mln accounting for another plot of land, the Fundu Sacului forest in Snagov also close to Bucharest.

Paul-Phillipe al Romaniei is the son of Carol Lambrino and Hélène Henriette Nagavitzine. His father was the elder son of King Carol II of Romania and Zizi Lambrino. His grandfather King Ferdinand forced the annulment of his parents' marriage in January 1919 in the Supreme Court of Romania and Carol was born outside the 300-day period allowed to permit legitimacy, on January 8, 1920. As a result, neither he nor his son Paul were recognized as members of Romania’s Royal Family.

In 1955, a court in Lisbon ruled that Carol Mircea Lambrino was the legitimate son of King Carol II (hence, the older brother of King Michael I), but this decision was not recognized by Romanian courts for many years. Carol Mircea died in January 2006 in London. After years of lawsuits, in January 2012, Romania's High Court officially recognized Paul as a heir of King Carol II, based on the Lisbon ruling, allowing him to claim part of the Royal Family’s fortune. In January 2010, Prince Paul and his wife Lia had their first son who they named Carol Ferdinand al Romaniei. Former president Traian Basescu is the boy’s godfather.

Romania’s Center-Right Coalition Reaches Agreement on The Next Government

BUCHAREST, Dec 19, 2020:: The three political parties that will form Romania’s center-right ruling coalition after the December 6 elections – PNL, USR-PLUS, and UDMR -, have reached an agreement on the structure of the new Government after a new round of talks on Friday. The leaders of the three parties - PNL’s Ludovic Orban, USR-PLUS co-presidents Dan Barna and Dacian Ciolos, and UDMR’s Kelemen Hunor – announced the agreement in a joint press conference. Next, they will present their prime minister proposal to president Klaus Iohannis, who will make the appointment.

The three parties have agreed to support finance minister Florin Citu for the prime minister position while Liberal leader Ludovic Orban will get the coalition’s endorsement for Chamber of Deputies speaker. USR-PLUS will name the head of the Senate. The new Government will have two deputy prime ministers and 18 ministries, of which PNL will lead nine, USR-PLUS will have six, and UDMR – three.

The Liberals will get the Foreign Affairs Ministry, Defense Ministry, Finance Ministry, Interior Ministry, Education Ministry, Energy Ministry, Agriculture Ministry, Labor Ministry, and Culture Ministry. The reformist alliance USR-PLUS will lead the Justice Ministry, Transport Ministry, Health Ministry, the new Ministry of Research, Innovation and Digitization, and the Ministry of Economy, Entrepreneurship and Tourism. The Hungarian Democratic Union (UDMR) will get the Ministry of Development, Public Works and Administration, the Ministry of Environment, Waters and Forests, and The Ministry of Youth and Sports.

The three political parties that will form Romania’s center-right ruling coalition after the December 6 elections – PNL, USR-PLUS, and UDMR -, have advanced in the negotiations to make the new Government during a new round of talks on Friday, according to political sources quoted by the local media. Thus, the three parties have agreed to support finance minister Florin Citu for the prime minister position while Liberal leader Ludovic Orban will get the coalition’s endorsement for Chamber of Deputies speaker, G4Media.ro reported.

Meanwhile, the leaders of the other two coalition parties, USR-PLUS co-president Dan Barna and UDMR president Kelemen Hunor, will both get deputy prime minister seats in the new Government. The Liberals also made several important concessions to get the two top positions (PM and Chamber of Deputies speaker), giving away more than half of the minister positions to USR-PLUS and UDMR. Thus, PNL will lead eight ministries, USR-PLUS will have seven and UDMR will get three. The two deputy prime ministers (Barna and Kelemen) will also head two ministries.

As for the ministries each party will get, here the negotiations are still ongoing. The Liberals are looking to keep the portfolios of Defense, Interior, Foreign Affairs, Justice, Transports, EU Funds, Development, and Finance, according to News.ro. However, USR-PLUS also wants to lead the Justice, Development or Finance Ministries. USR-PLUS will also get the Health, Education, Culture, Energy and Economy, Labor and Environment portfolios. Meanwhile, UDMR could get Agriculture, Communications and Youth and Sports.

The Senate president position is also open to negotiation, with USR-PLUS having the highest chances of getting it for former finance minister Anca Dragu. However, some Liberal leaders are reportedly unhappy with the outcome of the negotiations, arguing that their leader Ludovic Orban has given away too many portfolios to the coalition partners just to get the Chamber of Deputies speaker position, according to News.ro. Romania’s new Parliament, elected on December 6, will have its first session on Monday, December 21. The MPs will be sworn in and will also elect the leading bodies of the two chambers.