The Stănescu Group, the king of agriculture. How those close to the general secretary of the PSD were screwed in key positions

In recent years, the institutions responsible for agriculture in Romania and resources for farmers have come to be dominated by people from the pole of power patronized by Paul Stănescu, general secretary of the PSD.

The Minister of Agriculture (left) was supported for the position by Paul Stănescu (right) Collage

The passion for agriculture of the family of the general secretary of the PSD, Paul Stănescu, a politician originally from Olt, intersects with a series of appointments in state institutions that shepherd this field, endorsed by the party organization in the county.

The management change at the “Unirea” Agro-Food Trading House, a structure that should support Romanian producers to compete with large foreign retailers, brought a farmer from Olt to the position of general manager, given that a whole series of key positions in the field of agriculture are occupied by people from the same county or who have support from this pole of power in the PSD.

More precisely, Ionuț Victor Radu, vegetable grower from Obârsia commune (Olt county), was appointed general director at the end of last week, at the structure where the sole shareholder is the Ministry of Agriculture, led by Florin-Ionuț Barbu, also from Olt county.

How Olt gave the “cream” to agricultural institutions

Barbu became Minister of Agriculture when the Ciolacu Government was formed, at which point Paul Stănescu managed to impose it, after in July 2022 the position was given to Petre Daea, supported by the PSD president. In fact, Florin-Ionuț Barbu was also supported by PSD Olt in the past, holding the position of director of the National Land Improvement Agency (ANIF), in the period 2014-2020.

Olt also gave former Minister of Agriculture (November 2021 – June 2022) Adrian Chesnoiu. Currently, Chesnoiu is president of the Agriculture Commission in the Chamber of Deputies, a structure previously led by Florin-Ionuț Barbu. And in the previous legislature, Paul Stănescu's brother, Alexandru Stănescu, was initially vice-president, then president from September 2017 until the end of the mandate, December 2020, of the Agriculture Commission in the Chamber of Deputies.

Even Paul Stănescu is a simple member of the Agriculture Committee in the Senate, but since he already has a leadership position, by holding the position of vice president of the forum. And in the previous mandate, during 2016-2018, the general secretary of the PSD was a member of this commission.

And in July 2023, Florin Nicolae, former county councilor in Ilfov, but with support from the Stănescu group, was appointed to head the Agency for State Domains. Last but not least, at the Ministry of Agriculture, maintained with support also from PSD Olt, is Adrian Pintea, now secretary of state, but former director general of the Agency for Payments and Intervention in Agriculture for seven years (September 2016 – August 2023) .

Family hectares and the “reed business”

Agromec Vișina SRL, the company where the son of PSD general secretary, Ștefan Alexandru Stănescu, owns 97.24% of the shares, has over 3,300 hectares in operation, according to the company's public presentations. According to the latest data from the platform, the turnover was 31.5 million lei, and the profit 4.45 million lei.

Ștefan Alexandru Stănescu also went through two other important companies in the Romanian agricultural area. In June 2023, the website showed, citing data obtained regarding the largest holdings for which subsidies were requested from the state, that two companies in which the son of the social democrat was at the time were in second place ( SC Ecologic Danube SRL), respectively (SC Biodelta Resources SRL). Currently, Ștefan Alexandru Stănescu is no longer a shareholder in either of the two. The two companies are the main beneficiaries of the reed harvesting concession for a period of 25 years. According to the current regulations, the subsidy is 20 euros per hectare for reed harvesting in the Danube Delta. The European Public Prosecutor's Office also got on the phone, having already requested documents from APIA, an aspect confirmed by Adrian Pintea, secretary of state and former head of the Agency, for Radio Europa Liberă, on January 25.

Currently, at the parliamentary level, a bill to remove reed harvesting from subsidies has passed the first forum, i.e. the Senate. But the legislative initiative must also pass the Chamber of Deputies, where, according to “Adevărul” information, for the moment there is no rush to rush the project, which would rather create image problems for the Coalition, through the association of Stănescu, being left on hold. Besides, the Chamber of Deputies has many important bills that have been stalling for years, such as the Administrative Code, which has been in this forum since 2019.

The problems at Casa Unirea

The control department within the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MADR) found deficiencies and irregularities in the management activity of the Romanian House of Agri-Food Trade “Unirea”, following the control carried out between December 13, 2023 and January 31, 2024, and among them are unpaid invoices, in the amount of approximately 53 million lei, or the sale of a higher proportion of imported products than those from domestic producers.

It was found that the products purchased by Casa Unirea and subsequently sold mostly come from established brands at the international level, from EU or non-EU production, and those purchased from Romanian farmers or producers are in an insignificant proportion, a fact that denotes the departure of the management from the objective envisaged by the sole shareholder when this company was created, that of facilitating the sale of agri-food goods produced on farms in Romania”, the MADR control report states.

Also, the former general director, Mariana Cotoi, could not present documents regarding the initiation of any steps in order to calculate and invoice late penalties according to the contractual provisions of the Control Directorate of the Ministry of Agriculture.