Romanian Minister jailed over dodgy Microsoft deal

sandu.kqydm8bnpcRomania’s former telecommunications minister, Gabriel Sandu, has ended up receiving  two years for money laundering, abuse of office and bribery involving the lease of Microsoft IT licences for schools.

An ex-mayor of  Piatra Neamt, Gheorghe Stefan, and two other businessmen who acted as middlemen also got jail terms of up to three years.  At the start of the trial last October, the defendants admitted to charges of influence peddling in order to get their sentences reduced by a third.

They told the court how they used their influence to get the government to approve the purchase of Microsoft licences in 2009, and how they got fees from the people interested in having the contracts go through.

Sandu was accused of receiving three million euro and of asking for an additional 1.3 million euro in bribes to ensure he chose the company involved.

During the trial, he admitted he was “the worst minister in Romania’s history”. He also said he gave away all the money he received to finance his Liberal Democratic Party and its election campaigns.

Prosecutors said the contract was worth $105 million and was to supply Microsoft Office licences to schools and other public institutions between 2004 and 2009.

Microsoft offered the licences on a 47 percent discount on the price that Microsoft offered the Romanian government, which the minister and his chronies trousered.

Officials involved also sought bribes in order to favour Fujitsu Siemens Computers in operating the contract, at a price that was overestimated by 40 per cent.

An investigation showed that out of the $54 million that the government paid under the licensing contract and its extension, commissions paid to public officials amounted to $20 million.