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Romania's Tarom names new interim CEO amidst political scandal

Romania's Tarom names new interim CEO amidst political scandal Tarom

BUCHAREST (Romania), October 21 (SeeNews) - Romanian flag carrier Tarom said on Monday it has named George Costin Barbu as interim CEO after Valentin Nicolae Gvinda refused to take up the position amidst a political scandal involving a possible instigation to abuse of office.

Barbu's term will last four months, Tarom said in a press release.

George Costin Barbu has been director general of the Higher School of Civil Aviation from 2015 until now. He graduated from the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering, specializing in Aeronautical Engineering and Management.

According to local media reports, Gvinda refused to accept the job of interim CEO because of the complicated financial and managerial situation at Tarom.

On Friday, Tarom said it has dismissed CEO Madalina Daniela Mezei and named Gvinda as interim chief executive. According to a press release issued by Tarom on Friday, Mezei was dismissed because she could not implement decisions taken by the company's management board and delayed the modernisation of the short-haul fleet, as well as because she did not take steps to reduce payroll.

However, Tarom's announcement came right after Mezei told local news agency Mediafax on Thursday evening that transport minister Razvan Cuc had asked her to ground several Tarom aircraft on the day when a censure motion against the government was voted in parliament, in order to prevent opposition lawmakers from arriving for the vote.

Soon after Tarom's announcement, Romania's government said the Control Body with the prime minister will look into whether the transport minister has exerted pressure on the former CEO for an abuse of office. According to local media reports, Romania's anti-corruption directorate DNA is also starting an investigation into the issue.

On October 10, Viorica Dancila's Social-Democrat government lost a no-confidence vote requested by opposition National Liberal Party (PNL). Five days later president Klaus Iohannis said he has appointed PNL leader Ludovic Orban as prime minister-designate tasked with forming a transitional government.

Mezei was appointed in June and was the company fourth CEO in less than three years.

The air carrier's net loss narrowed to 130 million lei ($31 million/ 28 million euro) in 2018 from 170 million lei in the previous year, while turnover rose by 21% to 1.4 billion lei, data from Romania's transport ministry showed.

(1 euro=4.7592 lei)