The Microsoft cases.
There appear to be two separate cases, with Florica involved in both. Both cases seem to have their origin in the same scheme; to persuade the Romanian State to sign a contract and pay a hugely inflated price for Microsoft licences. Florica was in 2004 the General Manager of the Romanian office of Fujitsu Siemens. It was a distributor of licences for Microsoft . The scheme relied on the Romanian State believing that it was the sole distributor and being unaware that Microsoft would offer a discount of 47% for high volume sales to State institutions. BNE Intellinews (22.11.16) states that in three deals the State overpaid by $67m in total.
The article details the various people who were found guilty in the case “Microsoft 1”; they include Gabriel Sandu a former Communications Minister, and Dorin Cocos, a “controversial” businessman, and the husband of former minister Elena Udrea. Both received prison sentences. Florica, however, escaped punishment, apparently because he became a prosecution witness. The English language Romanian independent news website Nine O’clock details a furious, detailed condemnation by Elena Udrea that Florica was allowed to escape trial in this way. In particular she is indignant that he only became a prosecution witness after the trial had started.
“Microsoft 2” was announced by the Romanian National Anticorruption Directorate on 21.11.16. In this case Florica is a defendant, along with two former Microsoft managers. The status of this case is not entirely clear from available sources. Romania Journal, 5.4.18 claims that Florica and co-defendant Pescariu were “cleared” by a Bucharest court. However the obscure language seems to indicate that this was on a procedural technicality, and was subject to appeal. A separate report by Mediafax (dated 10.5.19, but almost certainly actually from April 2018) tries to give a little more detail on the decision, referencing that the two had transferred money several times between Austria, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. The implication seems to be that as a result the case moved outside the court’s jurisdiction (but the text is obscure).
It is possible that an appeal has been lodged, but no news reports have emerged as yet to corroborate this belief.
Romania TV.net (28.9.17) reports that Mr Sandu has tried to bring the affair to the attention of the U.S. Justice Department. His full letter in English is reproduced. It is not yet known if or how the US Justice Dept. responded.
What can we reasonably conclude from these reports?
1. An improper contract with the State regarding Microsoft licenses was concluded, and millions of euros paid for them. Various high profile people went to jail for their part in it.
2. At the very least, Florica was integral to the scam, and may well have been the author of it. Had he not been in his position at Fujitsu, the events described would not have happened.
3. Florica was therefore also the recipient of the payments for the licenses, and distributed monies to other parties, who were found guilty by the courts, and ordered to pay back money. However, since Florica has so far not been convicted, he has not been required to repay any monies he received from these transactions. Furthermore in Mr Sandhu’s deputation to the US Justice Dept. he appears to imply that similar contracts involving Microsoft software remain in force and that Florica is still involved in administering these contracts.
4. It is therefore reasonable to suppose that Florica is sitting on millions of euros as a result of his involvement in the Microsoft cases.
March 24, 2020; a key court judgement.
Reports emerged from Romania that a Bucharest court had ordered the cessation of the money-laundering case against Florica and Dinu Pecariu; however each were ordered to repay €10m. To recover the money, the judges “…instituted the seizure of all movable and immovable property belonging to Dinu Pescariu, Claudiu Florică and Stan Dragoş Şerban.”
This was presumably the development which Mr Mikhail foretold to CAST when he suggested that the controversy around Florica would soon be resolved. It would seem to be stretching credibility that this ruling has “cleared” Mr Florica in any sense that the reasonable British person might understand the term in a legal context.
Romanian scrutiny of this paper.
The CFO of the Bucharest office of a global publicly quoted company kindly scrutinised this document and found no obvious faults in it, based on the publicly available information on the matters discussed. His only additional comment is that Florica is a fan of Dinamo Bucharest football club and has been seeking an external backer to help him buy the club and restore its fortunes. Another Romanian connection with knowledge of Florica said “all you need to know is that there’s now no Fujitsu in Romania; he has not successfully run anything”
A fit and proper person, according to the English Football League
On May 2 2020, the EFL announced that Claudiu Florica had passed the EFL’s Owner and Director Test.