Romania’s National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) has dropped charges against seven ministers after an investigation revealed the indictments came too late.
The errors came to light after the prosecutor who originally worked on the case was fired in the summer, leaving judicial inspectors to examine whether legal procedures had been properly followed.
The former ministers from across education, finance and communication were accused of approving contracts selling IT licenses to Romanian schools at highly inflated prices.
Damages linked to the case amounted to $66.9 million (€53.7 million).
But the former government officials were charged with abuse of office after its 10-year statute of limitations had already expired. The contract for the first Microsoft IT licence was signed in 2004, with charges only made in 2015.
The contracts were managed by Fujitsu Siemens Computers, and not by Microsoft.
Those prosecuted for the initial contract were former education ministers Ecaterina Andronescu and Alexandru Athanasiu, former finance minister Mihai Tanasescu, former communications ministers Dan Nica and Adriana Ticau, and former government secretary general Serban Mihailescu.
Charges were also dropped against former education minister Daniel Funeriu as accusations against him were found to be unsubstantiated.
However, the case did have some success in terms of convictions. Former communications minister Gabriel Sandu, former mayor Gheorghe Stefan, and businessmen Nicolae Dumitru and Dorin Cocos were jailed after they admitted to accepting bribes from people interested in getting the contracts through.
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