The standard ‘fee’ for passing an exam was 50 euros.
On the campus of the mechanics faculty in the Cluj Technical University, it was widespread knowledge that Prof. Ioan Ardelean was notorious for taking bribes from students. In exchange for kickbacks, students would pass their exams, prosecutors said.
Some of the students didn’t even bother turning up for the exams. They passed automatically, as long as they’d slipped the money to the professor who went on trial in 2019 for his alleged misdeeds.
As for the professor, he told the court that it was of little importance that when law enforcement officers burst into his office, they found 2,000 euros stuffed into envelopes, adevarul.ro reported.
Prosecutors told the court that the defendant received at least 1,900 euros and 1,150 lei from 42 students in the summer and autumn of 2017 alone.
The Cluj Appeal Court handed him a three-year prison sentence earlier this month. The court ordered that 2,000 euros and another 11,750 euros of illicit money be confiscated. The ruling is final.
Prosecutors said that it was public knowledge that students needed to pay 50 euros to pass an exam.
Video recordings show that they “practically formed a queue” outside his office to pay kickbacks. If the students didn’t have euros, he accepted the equivalent in lei, they said.
Law enforcement officers organized a sting in July 2017 where they found Prof. Ardelean sitting in his office surrounded by envelopes. Each contained 50 euros and had the student’s name written on it.
To try and give the bribery a veneer of legality, students would be invited into office for a discussion about the upcoming exam and how they could perform well. The student would then leave an envelope with the money on his desk.
„The defendant wasn’t surprised either by the help asked of him or the money given to him,” the court said summing up the sentencing.
“Behaving in a completely normal manner, the professor told the students what subjects would be asked in the exam or (even worse) he’d allow them to not sit the exam if they’d paid 50 euros.”
‘You want to crucify me’
When prosecutors played an video recording dated July 4, 2017, in which a student only identified as Simoc came into his office, he responded: “ You want to crucify me!”
In the recording, he asked the student what class they are in, and then looks in his folder for the exam subjects and hands them over, asking the student to study the subject matter.
The student then says they can’t sit the exam and hands an envelope to the professor who then confirms everything is in order.
Prosecutors showed the court 14 films in which students left bribes. At the end of each encounter he told students: “Don’t tell your colleagues or anyone else.”
Clearly, that message didn’t get around, as students continued to come to his office and leave money. He was tried on 42 counts of bribery for exams sat in 2017.
In 2020, a lower court handed him a suspended sentence which the Cluj Appeal Court overturned this month.
“The profound level of the defendant’s corruption led students to behave in a certain way, and they didn’t even worry about passing the exam or even sitting it. The only condition was that of paying 50 euros.”
The defendant claimed that he “didn’t even pay attention when students entered his office and left envelopes, with all kinds of icons and religious objects which I didn’t want to open in front of them “I didn’t expect there to be money.”
He also claimed that the money was thank you gifts from students who’d already passed their exams.
Video evidence however showed another reality. Once he was alone in the office and the students had left, he took out the money and put it his pockets,
“If he had wanted to return the money, he could have” the ruling concluded.