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Romania: 3 charged with overcharging gov't for IT licenses

Posted November 21

— Two former managers of Microsoft Romania and the former manager of Fujitsu Siemens Computers in Romania were charged Monday on suspicion of abusing their positions for illicit gain which cost the state $67 million.

Romania's anti-corruption prosecutors charged former Microsoft general managers Silviu Hotaran and Ovidiu Artopolescu and Claudiu Florica, former general manager of Fujitsu. They were placed under judicial control, meaning they have to report to police and are not allowed to leave Romania.

Hotaran denied wrongdoing. Artopolescu and Florica declined comment.

The case involving IT licenses sold to the government which were then used in Romanian schools over a period of four years is one of the biggest and most complex cases of alleged corruption in recent years.

In October, a former minister, a former mayor and two businessmen were handed prison sentences in the same case on charges of money-laundering, influence-peddling and bribery. The ruling said the four maneuvered to pocket a 47 percent discount offered by Microsoft. Some 15.7 million euros ($16.7 million) were paid to their companies. By 2009, when the contract expired, the state had bought more than 150,000 licenses.

Until Monday's case, the investigation had not targeted company officials who allegedly signed contracts giving the government a discount, but then charged a much higher rate.

Prosecutors said from 2004-2008 the three managers signed contracts with the government to use Microsoft licenses. The government allegedly paid much more than appeared in the contracts.

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