Romania’s intelligence agency asked to vet energy official over concerns he’s a Moscow plant

Foto: INQUAM/George Călin

Amid fears of Russian meddling, Romania’s intelligence agency has been publicly asked to vet a potentially ‘vulnerable’ official who’s been picked to head the national energy regulator.

‘Moscow’s man’

Social Democrat chairman Marcel Ciolacu on Monday said he’d submitted a request for a background check on Iulian Iancu who has been accused of being „Moscow’s man,” by  Wikileaks reported.  The former Social Democrat lawmaker calls the allegations „a lie.”

Apart from Wikileaks, the opposition Save Romania Union accused him of making amendments to a draft law that  led to an offshore drilling law in the Black Sea being suspended. U.S. and other investors pulled out after the law was canceled.

President Klaus Iohannis previously refused to appoint him as deputy prime minister because he „jeopardized”  decisions taken by the Romanian state based on its strategic partnerships with Western states.

Energy regulator

Mr, Ciolacu acknowledged that Mr Iancu had “an image problem” but insisted he was well qualified to be in charge of the energy regulator, ANRE.

“We can’t go on gossip. Let the secret services say whether he is a vulnerability for Romania’s national security,” Mr Ciolacu said.

“If he isn’t, the party backs him for this …post,” he added. The intelligence agency has likely already done a background check on him and Mr Ciolacu was making a political point.

A  2008 Wikileaks file describes Iulian Iancu as “a politician controlled by Gazprom,” according to statements made by a party colleague.

South Stream

The colleague told U.S. officials that he would “ support South Stream and Russian proposals to mount gas installations” in Bucharest, Moldova and Medias where Romania has a gas hub.

Russia canceled South Stream in December 2014 following opposition from the EU after Russia annexed Crimea.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine, the 61-year-old  has been publicly accused of being „controlled by Russia.” He called the accusations „the biggest lie about my name in my 35-year career,” daily Adevarul reported.

Strategic importance

He needs to pass two parliament committees and then be approved by parliament before he can be appointed. The post is considered to be of strategic importance.

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