While the practice of commissions in commercial transactions is nothing extraordinary, the possibility that a contract signed by the Romanian state with British company BAE Systems for the procurement of two second-hand frigates included a provision in this regard is surprising, says independent expert Adrian Savin in an interview for Hotnews.ro.
Romanian Defense minister Teodor Atanasiu said on Tuesday that the above-mentioned contract included a clause supporting penalties in case illegal payments were made to support the sale of the two frigates.
They have been at the core of a week-long scandal related to alleged “secret commissions” paid by BAE System to unidentified individuals, that may include Romanian politicians, to push the sale several years ago.
Adrian Savin says Atanasiu’s initiative to ask the British side agree with lifting the secret status of the contract was a proper one, taking into consideration the nature of the situation.
“if the clause Atanasiu spoke about speaks about illegal commissions – or bribes in common terminology – than it is not a usual procedure as it does not have commercial character but a criminal one”, Savin says.
According to the expert, such a clause would not be needed as the perspective of a criminal punishment is enough to prevent the parties from “buying” the silence of others.
Still, he says, the explanations provided so far regarding the contractual clause are not enough as it may only be a provision aimed at diminishing the temptation of graft. Such clauses may be the result of pressure on big international corporations, by governments or international organizations, to take measures for limiting the practice of corruption in developing country, according to Savin.
He warns tha the Romanian legislation on public contracts is lacking substance when it comes to the conflict between the principle of transparency and possible abuses of the principle of trade and military secrets.