Former chief corruption prosecutor denies having discussed with fugitive mogul extradition of disgraced businessman

Former chief prosecutor with the National Anti-Corruption Directorate (DNA) Laura Codruta Kovesi said on Friday that she never discussed with now fugitive media mogul Sebastian Ghita the extradition of disgraced businessman Nicolae Popa.

She went to the Attorney General's Office on Friday, where she was informed about allegations in a court file opened on her name following the submission of a complaint by Sebastian Ghita. Ghita claimed that in 2011 Kovesi asked him to pay 200,000 euros for Nicolae Popa, the disgraced manager of a bankrupted National Investment Fund (INF) and internationally wanted now, to be flown in Romania.

"In January 2017, on the basis of the allegations made by this defendant, a criminal case opened regarding precisely this extradition. In January 2017 I got indicted as I was preparing to go to an interview [for a job with the European European Prosecutor's Office]. So that's not a coincidence. I had bought a flight ticket because I knew there were certain activities on February 18. I had no meetings outside an institutional setting. I attended events organised by state bodies to which I had been invited by the leaders of those bodies. If there are pictures, they are from those events of the bodies I attended. I have never talked to Sebastian Ghita either on the phone or by email, nor did I use the emails that the public would like you to believe. Pictures may obviously appear from those events, or doctored pictures may appear like fake recordings did. I have not discussed with anyone any criminal cases outside the institutional framework. I have never discussed with Sebastian Ghita this extradition," Kovesi said, on her way out of the Attorney General's Office.

She showed that she had no powers related to the extradition of Nicolae Popa.

"I have never committed criminal offences. The accusations I have seen in public, made by a defendant in a DNA file, are pure fables. (...) I can tell you that I have never had powers related to the extradition of convict Popa Nicolae, and never have I done anything abusive to the extradition because I did not even have these powers. The Romanian Police and the minister of justice dealt with the extradition. The bribery accusation, from what I was told, is that I allegedly got money directly to pay for the extradition. Not true. There is also a press statement released by the Romanian Police, which shows that the payment of the extradition was made by the Romanian Police. There is also a statement by the Attorney General's Office released in January 2017 that shows that the payment was made by the Romanian Police. So we have two official communiqués," Kovesi said.

The case in which Laura Codruta Kovesi is accused opened in December 2018 following a complaint by disgraced media mogul and a former lawmaker Sebastian Ghita. He fled to Serbia after being sued in several corruption cases.

Ghita has claimed that in 2011 Kovesi asked him to pay 200,000 euros for internationally wanted Popa to be flown in Romania.

The Romanian Police reported in December having paid an airline more than 234,000 lei to fly Popa to Romania from Indonesia. AGERPRES (RO - author: Eusebi Manolache, editor: Georgiana Tanasescu; EN - author: Corneliu-Aurelian Colceriu, editor - Adina Panaitescu)

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