Romanian prosecutors indict subway union chief over millions he made from rent contracts

Foto: INQUAM/Ilona Andrei

Romanian anti-corruption prosecutors on Monday indicted a subway trade union leader for abusing his position to make illicit gains by pocketing the money renting out commercial space on the underground. 

Commercial space

Prosecutors accuse Ion Radoi, a powerful Bucharest union boss, of secretly recording conversations and using blackmail to obtain more than 10 million lei (2 million-euro) for the USLM trade union by renting commercial space over an almost four-year period.

Money obtained from renting underground kiosks and shops and stands in the underground system should have been shared with the loss-making subway company Metrotrex.

Fire hazard

Instead, Mr Radoi allegedly intimidated company officials who asked questions and threatened walkouts. The union staged a one-day illegal strike in April 2021 as Metrorex finally shut down the lucrative underground kiosks, calling them a fire  hazard.

Then-Transport Minister Catalin Drula said the unions were irate at losing their privileges. „Mafia interests are threatened,” he said.

Prosecutors on Monday placed Mr Radoi under judicial control. As well as the USLM trade union leader, he is the manager of a company owned by the trade union. There was no immediate reaction from him to the development.

He is charged on seven counts obtaining illicit sums of money and  three counts of abusing his position with the aim of obtaining undue benefits. He has been union leader since 2005.

Union leader

The alleged wrongdoing occurred between September 2017 and July 2021.

“He used his influence and authority as a union leader in relation with decision-makers from the Transport Ministry and Metrorex SA (the subway company) to achieve personal goals or group interests which was unrelated to social dialogue, or protecting employees’ rights.” , a statement said.

In 2003, Metrorex signed an agreement with the trade union company to rent our commercial spaces for money.

Subway trade union

However, the trade union company was the sole administrator of the rental contracts and decided the rent prices unilaterally.

A total of 80% of the lucrative kiosks and other commercial spaces were  owned by the subway trade union USLM.

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