On Wednesday, a Bucharest court sentenced former Romanian businessman Nelu Iordache, better known as the “road king”, to an 11 year and nine month prison sentence for embezzlement, forgery and fraudulent use of European Union funding.
In the first instance, in 2017, the Bucharest court sentenced him to six years and nine months, and the anti-corruption prosecutor’s office appealed against the judgment. The trial began in 2012, with the anti-corruption prosecutor’s office launching an investigation into the businessman because he was accused of using one of the grants from European Union funds for other purposes.
The construction company Romstrade, owned by Iordache, should have built the motorway between Nagylak on the Romanian border and the city of Arad (some 70 kilometers) through a Romanian-Portuguese consortium organized around it, but in 2012 the Romanian National Road Company terminated the contract with the consortium after in one year, barely 20 per cent of the work was carried out instead of the planned 70 percent.
Due to delays in the implementation of this contract, Brussels then suspended funding for Romania’s Transport Operational Program.
Prosecutors found that Iordache had embezzled €5.5 million of money intended for the construction of the South Transylvanian motorway and used it to repay his debts or make purchases that had nothing to do with the 85 percent EU-funded highway contract.
Iordache’s Blue Air discount airline was also part of the group of companies that suddenly appeared after 2004 and won more and more road construction state contracts. Due to the international economic crisis in 2008, the group was in financial difficulties and Iordache used the EU funds to repay various debts and also bought a Boeing 737 aircraft for his airline.
fIn addition, he also used some of the EU funds to purchase several plots of land in a village 20 kilometers from Bucharest, where he intended to build an airport. Iordache, with assets of €150 million in 2011, later sold the airline.
Title image: Romanian entrepreneur Nelu Iordache. (source: g4media.ro)