News review of the day – July 14th

Romania’s renewed attempts of fighting corruption

A former member of Romania’s Central Commission for Establishing Compensations with the National Authority for Property Restitution (ANRP) has been charged on Monday in a corruption-related file also involving Horia Simu, the so-called „copper banker”. Constantin Lefter Zaharia is accused of alleged abuse of office and he is facing preventive arrest. Mr. Zaharia allegedly approved an expert report establishing a land price with public damages of some 55 million euros. Romania’s Intelligence Service (SRI) provided its support during an investigation opened by the country’s anti-corruption watchdog, the DNA (National Anti-Corruption Directorate).  Horia Simu was brought for questioning to the DNA headquarters in the capital Bucharest with an arrest warrant expected last Friday.

Opening of a Romanian Cultural Institute in Beijing

Romanian Secretary of State Radu Podgorean attended the official opening of the Romanian Cultural Institute in the Chinese capital Beijing on Tuesday. It is the 18th Romanian institution of the kind abroad also marking the country’s first cultural presence in Asia. The event was also attended by representatives of the Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Republic of China along with local authorities and academics including Chinese experts in Romanian language and literature and journalists. The event also included speeches given by Romanian officials, a Chinese president’s message to the ICR, and „Tradition and Modernity” – an exhibition of graphics and tapestry by Mircea Dumitrescu and Anna Maria Orban.

Further mysterious earthquake swarm in eastern Romania

A renewed unusual earthquake swarm was reported in Izvoarele, a village in the Romanian eastern county of Galatzi, on Tuesday. First such earthquakes happened in July 2013 when more than 400 earthquakes were reported. In 2013, the Galatzi area experienced dozens of earthquakes up to a magnitude of 3.8. The quakes had an extremely shallow depth, a relatively high shaking intensity though causing a lot of damage in the villages near the epicenter areas. Residents and seismologists are very surprised as they are trying to understand what is happening. Oil extraction and floodings where initially mentioned as  possible triggers but these reasons cannot explain why some other phenomenons like  a constant sound like “boiling water” (coming from the ground) and a strange water smell (like sulfur) being noticed.

Lukoil not expected to close its Romanian business

Russian oil giant Lukoil has no intention to sell its Petrotel refinery in Romania. The warning came from Lukoil vicepresident Thomas Muller at a press conference in the Russian capital Moscow on Tuesday. The management of the Romanian plant is similar to such companies as Shell or Exxon Mobile, he added. Lukoil Thursday „strongly denied” the allegations of both tax evasion and money laundering, according to a press release on the firm’s website on July 9. The company claimed to be one of Romania’s biggest energy companies and insisted it is „a prompt payer to the state budget”. „Lukoil has been operating on Romania’s territory since 1998 and is one of the biggest fuel-and-energy companies on its market. The company intends to appeal against the Prosecution Office’s order in accordance with the established procedure and counts on impartial investigation of the incident, according to the rules and standards accepted both in Romania and in the EU”, the staement said. Petrotel-Lukoil provides approximately a thousand workplaces in the region. In the past 9 years, 540 million dollars has been invested in the upgrading of the refinery.

Alexandru Danga