The manager of the Iasi National Opera and a percussionist were among employees taken for questioning Monday in connection to suspected fraud at the institution.
Organized crime prosecutors said in a statement they were focusing their investigation on a manager of “cultural institutions” in Iasi and Bucharest who allegedly illegally obtained large sums of money from state institutions including the culture ministry.
Prosecutors questioned 14 people on Monday over the suspected fraud of 5 million lei, more than one million euros.
A film appeared of Beatrice Rancea, 59, who’s been the manager of the Iasi Opera since 2011, being taken for questioning Monday in Iasi, northeast Romania together with another woman. Dressed in a fur coat, with her hands in her pockets, the manager is escorted to a car and driven away.
Percussionist Alighieri Iatac, was also taken for questioning by police.
G4Media reported that police took documents from the workshop of Romanian fashion designer Doina Levintza.
The Iasi Opera on Sunday staged a premiere of El Tango.
There have been regular complaints and even protests staged by opera employees over a lack of transparency in spending and allegations of bad management. The culture minister sent his auditing team there on Monday.
The culture ministry said it would cooperate and make all necessary documents available to prosecutors to help the investigation at the Iasi National Opera.
Prosecutors and police later announced that they had searched 26 homes in Iasi and Bucharest as part of the inquiry.
They said the suspected fraud was run by a criminal network specialized in “fraud and false declarations.”
It said the alleged criminal ring was set up in 2014 by an unnamed manager of “cultural institutes in Iasi and Bucharest” which was later joined by other people. Group members had the aim of “obtaining large sums of money from subsidies and the budget, particularly the culture ministry.”
The money from the culture ministry was given to the Bucharest National opera and the Iasi National Opera with the aim of promoting culture.
It said group members siphoned off the money “to satisfy their personal interests,” and covered their tracks.