The National Intelligence College, an educational institution belonging to the “Mihai Viteazul” National Intelligence Academy (ANIMV), under the umbrella of the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) is set to be closed.
“It’s just a matter of weeks,” several SRI sources have told us. An official response that was sent to PressOne from the Press Office of the SRI Academy, states: “the activity of the National Intelligence College has presently been suspended”.
The decision to suspend activity, which is to be followed by formally shutting down, was the result of an internal investigation that the ANIMV management began in October of 2017. The investigation started immediately after the current Minister of Finance (at time of writing), Eugen Orlando Teodorovici (46 years old), declared he was able to obtain a college diploma upon graduation, even though he never “even once” stepped foot in the College.
Moreover, in the response that the SRI Academy’s Press Office sent to Press One, it is specified that as a result of the internal investigation Eugen Teodorovic’s diploma of graduation from the College will be withdrawn.
These two decisions – the closing down of the College and the withdrawal of Minister Teodorovici’s diploma – are the first concrete signs of reform taking place in ANIMV, spurred by the SRI’s new leadership.
In fact, sources inside the Service have told us that Eugen Teodorovici is not the only politician who was able to obtain a graduation diploma without ever having attended class at the SRI’s College.
Where it all began
The suspension of all current activity and the imminent closing of the National Intelligence College (CNI) were decisions brought forth by scandals marring the credibility of the educational institution, but also ANIMV as a whole.
The most recent scandal was made public on TVR 1’s October 2017 episode in which PSD Senator Eugen Teodorovici, instigated by PMP Deputy Robert Turcescu, confessed that he obtained a diploma from the National Intelligence College without ever having physically gone there.
Here is the dialogue that took place between the two of them:
Turcescu: Mr. Orlando Teodorovici is someone who surprises me. Mr. Teodorovici, haven’t you crossed paths with the guys from the Service as well?
Teodorovici: Me, personally?
Turcescu: Yes. Didn’t you attend that school of theirs?
Teodorovici: I have a diploma from the Academy …
Turcescu: Which Academy?
Teodorovici: Well, why don’t you tell us since you are the one that’s full of insight. See how full of it you are, how you fell right into the trap …
Turcescu: What kind of diploma?
Teodorovici: It took three months – it was a postgraduate course.
Turcescu: But through which Academy?
Teodorovici: An Academy, I do not know what they call it… Academy of … National Intelligence Academy of the SRI.
Turcescu: That’s right!
Teodorovici: I have a masters degree or whatever it is – postgraduate course, but I didn’t even go for classes at all.
Turcescu: Well then, how did you get your diploma?
Teodorovici: I don’t know, go ask the people who gave me the diploma.
Turcescu: Well, why did you take the course?.
Teodorovici: No, I didn’t take the course, the diploma was brought to me. Yes, they just simply gave it to me.
Turcescu: But why did they give you that diploma?
Teodorovici: I probably deserve it.
Moderator: But who contacted you to give you a diploma?
Teodorovici: No, the diploma arrived at the end of those three months. And I admit, I didn’t go to classes at all.
Later, Eugen Teodorovici specified that the diploma had been delivered to his office.
The day after that broadcast, the ANIMV announced that Teodorovici had graduated from the National Intelligence College in 2013, following a 45-day postgraduate course dedicated to civilians.
“The current Senate of the “Mihai Viteazul” National Intelligence Academy has taken it upon itself to verify the conditions of Mr. Teodorovici’s graduation”, stated the ANIMV’s press release.
The revocation of Eugen Teodorovici’s diploma
In a response to a request PressOne addressed to the National Intelligence Academy once Eugen Teodorovici was appointed Minister of Finance, we were informed that a specialized commission verified whether he was in compliance with regular procedures. Adhering to these procedures would normally allow him to obtain a graduation diploma from the National Intelligence College.
Post investigation, the respective commission discovered that Teodorovici submitted an application and completed his registration, then was present and took part in the admission colloquium. Finally, he signed a contract of study with the ANIMV and paid the tuition fee for the College program.
The same commission discovered several inconsistencies in the manner in which Eugen Teodorovici was granted his diploma from the National Intelligence College.
He did not take any of the tests that were given in the three compulsory subjects, nor was he consequently allotted any grades. He did not take the certification exam to demonstrate his competence and he did not personally pick up his graduation diploma from the ANIMV headquarters
Following these violations of the Education Law, the ANIMV and the College’s management decided to revoke the graduation certificate that had been awarded to Eugen Orlando Teodorovici.
“We would like to make mention that the individuals within ANIMV who are guilty of not following the legal procedures of evaluation and who were responsible for awarding diplomas in this field of studies no longer have a contractual relationship with the “Mihai Viteazul” National Intelligence Academy nor with the Romanian Intelligence Service“, was the reply that came from the Press Office of the SRI Academy.
The same commission is now in the process of carrying out an investigation where they are verifying the procedure each student went through in order to obtain a graduation diploma from the College. They will be investigating each diploma, from the moment the College was founded and until today.
“We would also like to mention that as the investigations are taking place, the activity of the National Intelligence College is being suspended“, says the Press Office of the SRI Academy.
PressOne also tried to get Minister Eugen Teodorovici’s view on the matter but he did not respond to the phone calls or text messages we sent him prior to the publication of this article.
Ciobanu the Lobbyist
The initial publicly accessible information that brought about a level of distrust regarding the way the National Intelligence College functions appeared at the beginning of September 2017. It came immediately after the arrest of Sergiu Nicolae Ciobanu in a DNA (National Anticorruption Directorate) court case revolving around fraudulent activity that had taken place at the National Health Insurance House.
Ciobanu is one of George Maior’s godsons. He acted as a personal advisor to Maior throughout the entire time he was head of the SRI.
In a transcript that is available in Ciobanu’s DNA file, Ciobanu describes the National Intelligence College as a gateway to the Romanian security system, a place where, according to him, rising politicians would go to “lobby”.
In a discussion with a woman who would later denounce Ciobanu to the DNA, he argued that attending classes at the College was not compulsory. On the other hand, he said, the diploma helps one to better “relate” with MPs, senators and members of the Government.
“Madame, take a course at the National Intelligence Academy. About three months. On the topic of … on security … in … Let’s say within the field of security. This will really help you. It helps you a lot in dealing with … people from this particular environment … The courses are Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays from 9am to 12. If you come once … Tuesday …that month… or Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. You don’t have to be always present.”
Maior’s former advisor also explains how to graduate from the College with just a three to four page paper:
“I’ll help you with the documentation part and with … that paper you have to come up with. It has to be three to four pages long, a colloquium that must be presented and it has to be in the field of national security. Yes … we can find a way to relate it to the medical field. Could it be a … it’s in national security, but it could also be a study on the aging population about… risks and so on, you know!? “
In order to convince the other party in the dialogue about the “connection” he had – a connection who would be an entry point to the National Intelligence Academy – Sergiu Nicolae Ciobanu told her how he influenced the appointment of a businessman, who had built a hospital for the SRI, into a position of professor within the Academy.
“I was just speaking with him… I don’t know if you know Victor Matei. He builds hospitals. Well I helped Victor get a position as professor at the National Intelligence Academy. The SRI also has an Academy. And I brought him there as professor. He also taught Sociology, “Crisis Management”, I took him there, he laid a foundation there, he created a … certain dynamic… “
Last year, after we sent another request that was formulated under Law 544/2001, the National Intelligence Academy told us that Victor Matei was, in fact, not an employee of the Institution, but that he was rather a collaborator, a title he also held at the Faculty of Sociology at the University of Bucharest.
However, in the CV Victor Matei submitted to the University of Bucharest, he argues that between 2014–2015, he was a lecturer at ANIMV within the postgraduate program of Continuous Professional Development and Training: Liaison officer for the security of critical infrastructure on a national and European level.
This information is an indicator that he indeed taught at the National Intelligence College.
Between the years 1982 to 1985, Victor Matei was a mechanical locksmith, and from 1985 to 1989, he worked as a design technician. Today, he holds two doctorates, one in the field of Military Science, obtained at the National Defense University, and one in International Economic Relations, obtained at the University of Craiova. Since 2016, he has been a doctoral student at the National University of Physical Education and Sport.
The first incidence that raised red flags about the manner in which the National Intelligence College organized its courses appeared in the press in 2015. The context of these articles was regarding certain disclosures that various doctoral theses, which had been defended at the ANIMV, had been plagiarized.
One of the criticisms brought forth regarding the College was that in various courses, officers working in the field of intelligence were being placed together with politicians, magistrates and representatives of civil society.
Another complaint was regarding the fact that at the SRI Academy, implicitly at the National Intelligence College, grave offences had been committed. This is the case despite the fact that education is included in the chapter “Risks and Vulnerabilities” of the National Defense Strategy, and through its officers, the SRI is responsible for collecting data on issues that have proven sensitive in the field of education. The collected data should then be made available to policy makers.
George Maior, the former director of the SRI, did acknowledge that plagiarized doctorates represent a risk to national security in an interview with PressOne in September of 2016.
An attempt to bring reform to the SRI College began in 2016 as a result of these incidences. The first step was to appoint Julian Fota as the Director of the College. He was a university lecturer at the ANIMV and former presidential adviser in security-related issues to President Traian Basescu.
According to SRI sources, another measure that the Service’s management had taken seriously since 2016 was to limit access to the College’s programs so that only SRI employees would be able to enroll.
However, on the College’s website, this second reform attempt only became applicable in 2017:
“Courses put forth by the National Intelligence College will be predominantly addressed to individuals who have the authorization to access documents that are classified in nature, as a result of the professional activities they carry out, in areas relevant to national security”.
At this point, the SRI’s management has come to the conclusion that the only way to salvage its reputation and reduce the blow to their image, which has been marred in the last three years, is to close the College.
These decisions, which demonstrate that the SRI Academy is committed to cleaning up its act, have sprung out of the measure that was taken in 2016 in which the number of admittances for doctoral students was significantly decreased for the 2016-2017 academic year.
Politicians, attracted to the SRI College
The National Intelligence College was designed following the same model employed by the National Defense College, which operates within the “Carol l” National Defense University. A significant number of the nation’s political and administrative elite have taken courses in the latter Institution.
The objective of the National Intelligence College, according to the information available on its website, is to provide postgraduate training and continuing professional development courses, through which the “SRI participates in growing the level of expertise of representatives of civil society, public administration and the private sector in addition to providing a better understanding of the security challenges present today”.
“In most cases, the course participants have been beneficiaries of intelligence services – parliamentarians, dignitaries and government officials, civil servants from central and local administration, as well as representatives of large companies or of mass media”, states the College’s website.
Another response we received from the ANIMV’s Press Office asserts that since it was first established in 2002 and until the first part of 2017, 885 people have studied at the College.
During its 15 years of operation, only 40 graduates of the National Intelligence College came from the SRI. The other students have been individuals who represent civil society (the press, NGOs, the Church, trade unions or the private sector), from ministries and government agencies, from political parties, from the Parliament and from local administration. They have also been employees of other secret services agencies (SIE, SPP , STS or MIA and MpN services).
Behind these statistics are the names of individuals in Romanians society who hold important titles on the political and public scene:
Mihai Tudose – former prime minister;
Sorin Grindeanu – former prime minister;
Sorin Câmpeanu – former minister of education;
Claudiu Manda – deputy and head of the SRI activity control committee;
Georgian Pop and Cezar Preda – deputies and former heads of the SRI activity control committee, all graduated from this College.
Cristian Bușoi, Ramona Mănescu, Angel Tîlvăr, Marilen Pirtea, Valeriu Zgonea, Gabriel Vlase, Octavian Marius Popa, Ioan Bălan, Alin Popoviciu, Ninel Peia, Ionuț Stroe, Claudia Boghicevici, Daniel Barbu – all parliamentarians or members of the European Parliament – are also graduates of the National Intelligence College.
Other high-ranking civil servants, such as Bogdan Stan, president of the National Integrity Agency, have added the post-graduate courses they took at the SRI’s College on their publicly available CV.