The great vulnerability of Prime Minister Marcel Ciolacu: The business dealings of…

Sursa Foto; Colaj G4Media

The great vulnerability of Prime Minister Marcel Ciolacu: The business dealings of his protégée

The G4Media.ro investigation into a contract worth 27 million euros on the verge of being awarded by the Sector 3 City Hall in the Capital to a company controlled by individuals from the entourage of Sorina Stan (formerly Docuz), the ex-wife of Mayor Robert Negoiță, is much more significant than it appears at first glance. It goes beyond the scope of a simple local scheme and has long-term implications at the top of the PSD (Social Democratic Party).

After weeks of verification, G4Media.ro has gathered enough information and evidence to conclude that there are close connections between the winning company and Sorina Stan (Docuz). However, numerous ties link the Docuz family to the company Gab Pavolux, which qualified for a four-year mega-contract framework for catering services for schools and kindergartens in Sector 3 of Bucharest.

In this context, the very close political relationship between Marcel Ciolacu and Robert Negoiță is noteworthy, with the latter publicly praised by the PSD leader and courted for a possible return to the party—sources from G4Media point to him as a potential candidate for the General Mayor of the Capital position.

The investigation in brief (click here for the full investigation):

A framework contract worth 133 million lei, tendered by the Sector 3 City Hall led by Robert Negoiță, is on the verge of being signed with a Buzău-based company, which reported zero turnover from 2014 to 2021, after winning a bidding process marked by numerous questions. To meet a key participation requirement, the Buzău company is supported by a construction firm, whose owner and his wife have been PSD financiers during the tenure of the current party president, Prime Minister Marcel Ciolacu. Various documents and clues uncovered by G4Media.ro reveal that behind the small company targeting funds from Sector 3 are members of two families – Docuz and Arghir –, close to the current mayor of Sector 3 and the PSD president, Marcel Ciolacu.

  • In June 2023, the City Hall led by Robert Negoiță tendered a framework contract for school catering services valued at 133 million lei (27 million euros). On August 25, the bidding committee announced the preliminary result: Gab Pavolux-Bedamiro Association ranked first.
  • A few months before the bid for the large contract of 27 million euros, a school in Sector 3 tendered a lease for a former canteen, into which the city hall had already invested about 2 million euros in luxury fittings. The winner of the tender: Gab Pavolux, following a procedure that was at least questionable.Thus, the company that will provide catering services for schools in Sector 3 secured, before the tender, the space for the canteen already equipped with all the facilities at the city hall’s expense.
  • Gab Pavolux is owned by Andrei Andrei, a model from Timișoara living in Dubai. However, many connections link Gab Pavolux to the Docuz family. Sorina Stan Docuz, former Miss Buzău, is considered the protégée of Prime Minister Marcel Ciolacu, who is also originally from Buzău.
  • Bedamiro, the company that supported Gab Pavolux in the tender, is also based in Buzău and is owned by businessman Mihai Leonard Rotaru. In the fall of 2020, shortly after Marcel Ciolacu was elected president of PSD, both Rotaru and his wife, Daniela, loaned this political party 445,000 lei each for campaign financing. Rotaru is considered one of Ciolacu’s close associates and a major PSD financier.
  • Mayor Robert Negoiță, the former husband of Sorina Docuz, is strongly supported by Marcel Ciolacu. As prime minister, Ciolacu has publicly praised the work of the mayor of Sector 3. According to sources within PSD, Ciolacu supports Negoiță for a potential candidacy for the Capital’s Mayorship.
  • Although the tender organized by Negoiță’s City Hall has identified its winners, with Gab Pavolux closely linked to the Docuz family being in the first place, the contracts have not yet been signed. G4Media.ro started the investigation a few months ago.

These are the limits of a journalistic investigation, it can only prove so much. However, facts are facts and raise legitimate questions. We have solid clues, and evidence, corroborated with information from sources, all pointing to the fact that Ms. Docuz or people from her circle are trying to fully capitalize on their good relations with Prime Minister Ciolacu, with or without his knowledge, to obtain contracts or benefits from various public authorities (ministries, companies, PSD-controlled city halls).

Prime Minister Ciolacu refused to respond to a series of pointed questions from G4Media.ro, dismissing them as „nonsense.” Among other things, he had the opportunity to clarify whether the advertising firm controlled by Sorina Stan (Docuz) received contracts from PSD under his leadership, but he did not do so even this time.

The first signs that the Docuz family was exploiting the privileged relationship that Negoiță’s former wife has with Prime Minister Ciolacu appeared in the early days of the PSD-PNL government. G4Media.ro revealed that Sorina Docuz’s sister (Cristina Arghir) had been appointed to the board of the Romanian Lottery with PSD’s support, where she receives a gross monthly allowance of 7,200 lei.

Previously, the same PSD led by Marcel Ciolacu had tried to place Sorina Docuz’s sister on the Board of Directors of Romgaz but withdrew her amid the scandal generated by the fact that the party had already supported a series of unqualified people in key institutions in the energy sector.

The close relationship between Marcel Ciolacu and Sorina Stan (Docuz) has always been a topic of discussion within the party. For instance, exactly a year ago, Marcel Ciolacu, then the President of the Chamber of Deputies, was absent from the National Day reception at Cotroceni because he had left the country. All information obtained by G4Media.ro indicates that he was accompanied by his close associate on an exotic vacation in Dubai.

The private life of the Prime Minister has never been and is not a subject of interest for G4Media.ro. However, when private life interferes with public office or public funds, the situation changes. The Prime Minister has a duty to clarify to what extent the businesses of Sorina Stan (Docuz) or her associates benefit from his support or are conducted in his name.

This is by far the biggest political vulnerability for Prime Minister Ciolacu, much like Elena Udrea was for former President Traian Băsescu, with the difference being that Sorina Stan (Docuz) is not politically active, although there are voices in the party claiming she is involved in some decisions.

In the absence of clarifications, all efforts in recent years to make PSD a reputable party will be under significant scrutiny. The political ambitions of Prime Minister Ciolacu, if any, will be questioned as well. The sooner he separates his public role from the interests of his protégée or the businesses of the protected, the better.

If he fails to distinguish these areas, we will see a scenario that many before Marcel Ciolacu have played. He wouldn’t be the first politician undone by a woman.

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