Udrea at the 2013 PD-L convention
|Minister of Regional Development and Tourism|
23 December 2009 – 9 February 2012
|Prime Minister||Emil Boc|
Vasile Blaga (Regional Development)|
|Succeeded by||Cristian Petrescu|
|Minister of Tourism|
22 December 2008 – 23 December 2009
|Prime Minister||Emil Boc|
|Preceded by||Matei-Agathon Dan (2000-2003)|
|Succeeded by||Herself (Regional Development and Tourism)|
26 December 1973|
National Liberal Party (2002–2005)|
Democratic Liberal Party (2006–2014)
People's Movement Party (2014–2016)
Dimitrie Cantemir Christian University|
Carol I National Defence University
Elena Gabriela Udrea (Romanian pronunciation: [eˈlena ˈudre̯a]; born December 26, 1973) is a Romanian politician. An independent who held office while in the Democratic Liberal Party and then the People's Movement Party, she was a member of the Romanian Chamber of Deputies from 2008 to 2016. In successive Emil Boc cabinets, she served as Tourism Minister from 2008 to 2009 and as Regional Development and Tourism Minister from 2009 to 2012. Sentenced to six years in prison for corruption offenses, she is currently seeking asylum in Costa Rica.
Education and legal career
Udrea was born in Buzău and completed secondary studies at the city's Bogdan Petriceicu Hasdeu National College. She then attended the faculty of Law and Public Administration at Bucharest's Dimitrie Cantemir Christian University, graduating in 1996.
In 2005, Udrea began studies at the Carol I National Defence University, receiving a master's degree in Military Science in 2007. She began work on a doctorate in the same field, but abandoned the endeavor in 2012. Udrea worked as a lawyer in Bucharest from 1997 to February 2005, resuming the practice of law that December. At Dimitrie Cantemir, she began teaching political systems in autumn 2007, and she has authored or co-authored five works on geopolitics and globalisation. Some of her activities as a lawyer have drawn criticism from the non-governmental Political Investigation Group: for instance, it has questioned the fact that while an opposition city councillor in 2004, she represented the government-run Department for State Heritage Administration (RA-APPS), at one point receiving public contracts worth 710 million lei during a single week.
Udrea began her political activity in 2002 as a legal adviser to the Social Democratic Party (PSD). She joined the National Liberal Party (PNL) that year, becoming a Bucharest city councillor in June 2004, during the period of the Justice and Truth Alliance. She held that office until the following February, and during that time was president of the council's committee on law and discipline. In October 2005 she resigned from the PNL, joining the Democratic Party (PD; precursor to today's PD-L) in February 2006. In December, she was elected the party's executive secretary, becoming a vice-president of the PD-L a year later. In these capacities, she promoted the party and spoke approvingly of the president, for instance ahead of the 2008 local election.
From February to November 2005, while away from her law practice, Udrea was a state counsellor and head of the Presidential Chancellery under President Traian Băsescu. Among her roles were summarizing secret documents addressed to the Presidency, approving lists of invitees to Cotroceni Palace and representing the Presidency at various events. During this period, she launched a series of attacks on Prime Minister Călin Popescu-Tăriceanu, who had fallen out of favour with Băsescu; these centred on Tăriceanu's opposition to having early elections. She also drew notice for speaking during a televised interview about a "President of Norway" (which is a monarchy) and of that country as a member of the European Union (which it is not). Udrea resigned her post after eight months, citing the "profoundly unjust" attacks on her and others involved in Băsescu's anti-corruption drive, and her desire not to become a liability for her boss. These controversies centred around the RA-APPS affair and alleged links she and her husband had to the parking firm Dalli, headed by what Băsescu had termed the "personal mafia" of his 2004 election rival Adrian Năstase. Moreover, she was characterised as "the blonde from Golden Blitz"—a Cotroceni restaurant once frequented by Băsescu and the owners of which had business ties to Udrea's husband—having been photographed there with President-elect Băsescu in 2004. (Despite rumours to the contrary, she stated in an interview that her relationship with the President was "strictly professional".) Following her resignation, Udrea continued to act as a presidential surrogate, soon afterwards accusing the prime minister of placing a call to a prosecutor on behalf of his friend and business partner Dinu Patriciu on the day of Patriciu's arrest. She returned to this theme in 2007, when she alleged that Tăriceanu had written the president a note soliciting the latter's intervention in the case.
At the 2008 legislative election, Udrea won 43.4% of the vote in her district, enough to gain a seat in Parliament for Bucharest once redistribution took place. Three days after the legislative session opened, she was sworn into the new office of Tourism Minister. All government employees on two floors of the Victoria Palace were evicted in order to make room for the new ministry. As minister, her goals included raising tourism's share of Romania's GDP from 3.5% in 2008 to 10% by 2012, and a renewed focus on the country's spa towns. During the summer of 2009, a parliamentary committee headed by Ludovic Orban of the opposition National Liberal Party (PNL) investigated alleged abuses at the ministry, including documents signed in Udrea's name by her subordinates, a flawed contracting process, the spending of unallocated funds, and the disbursement of money to town halls based on political rather than tourist-potential criteria. In September, the committee's report recommended her dismissal and criminal charges for abuse of office, conflict of interest and negligence; she refused to resign and denounced the "fabricated accusations".
That October, she became interim Environment Minister following the resignation of her PSD cabinet colleagues, including Nicolae Nemirschi, the previous occupant of that ministry. In December, a new cabinet, also led by Boc, came into office; there, Udrea held the Regional Development and Tourism portfolio. Along with the rest of the cabinet, she resigned in February 2012 amid anti-government protests. In July 2010, following the departure of Liviu Negoiţă, she became interim head of the Bucharest PD-L chapter, assuming the post on a permanent basis later that year when she was the only candidate to fill it, and vowing in her acceptance speech to "rid" the capital of independent Mayor Sorin Oprescu. She resigned from this position in the wake of the 2012 local election that saw the PD-L perform poorly in Bucharest, including Oprescu's winning a new term with a majority of votes cast. Shortly thereafter, she also quit her position as PD-L vice-president.
For the 2012 election, Udrea ran in a seat based in the city of Roman. Although placing second, she won another term through redistribution. In March 2013, Udrea ran for the PD-L leadership but was defeated by incumbent Vasile Blaga on a 51-44 margin. In January 2014, Udrea, whom Blaga was preparing to expel from the PD-L, resigned from the party following disagreements with his leadership record, and joined the People's Movement Party (PMP). That June, she was elected PMP president, defeating Daniel Funeriu on a 78-22 margin. In August, the PMP candidate for the November presidential election, Cristian Diaconescu, quit the party and went ahead with a campaign as an independent amid moves by Udrea to assume his role. Subsequently, a party congress chose the latter as its new candidate, the only dissenting vote coming from Cristian Preda. At the election, she finished in fourth place, with 5.2% of the vote, and while not explicitly endorsing the Christian Liberal Alliance's Klaus Iohannis for the ensuing runoff, did urge her supporters to vote against the PSD's Victor Ponta.
In January 2015, she was questioned by prosecutors from the National Anticorruption Directorate on charges of money laundering and false statements on declarations of assets, as part of a wider investigation into the Microsoft licensing corruption scandal. As a result, she stepped aside as PMP president, with Eugen Tomac taking over the party on an interim basis. The following month, she was indicted on two counts of influence peddling and one count of money laundering. The case was able to proceed after her parliamentary immunity was lifted. A second case involves charges of receiving bribes for a 2011 gala event in honor of boxer Lucian Bute. Udrea ran as an independent in the 2016 election and won some 3000 votes, well short of the approximately 25,000 needed to capture a seat.
In March 2017, she was convicted of bribery and abuse of power in the Bute case, receiving a six-year prison sentence, subject to appeal. Udrea reacted by characterizing the proceedings as a matter of life and death, stating she would not accept to go to prison for what she termed "completely unproven accusations" and "bold-faced lies"; she subsequently filed an appeal. That appeal was rejected in June 2018, when the High Court of Cassation and Justice upheld the six-year sentence. At the beginning of the year, Udrea had fled to Costa Rica, where she requested the right of asylum. Following the High Court ruling, the Romanian authorities announced their intention to seek Udrea's extradition, despite the lack of a treaty between the two countries regulating the procedure.
In August 2011, Udrea generated controversy when she wore a Dolce & Gabbana dress that some media outlets claimed cost £14,310, to which she responded that the actual cost was some twenty times less. Three months later, she appeared on the cover of the Romanian magazine Tabu wearing a rubber dress and thigh-high boots.
- (in Romanian) "Despre mine" ("About Me"), retrieved 25 February 2009
- (in Romanian) Curriculum Vitae, retrieved 25 February 2009
- (in Romanian) Cristian Andrei, "Elena Udrea despre scandalul de plagiat" ("Elena Udrea about the Plagiarism Scandal"), Gândul, 29 June 2012; accessed June 1, 2014
- (in Romanian) "Udrea va fi prima doamnă în partidul lui Băsescu" ("Udrea Will Be First Lady in Băsescu's Party"), Cotidianul, 10 December 2007, retrieved 25 February 2009
- (in Romanian) "Filaj la Boc: Căţărarea şi descălecarea Elenei Udrea" ("The Boc Lineup: Elena Udrea's Rise and Settlement"), Jurnalul Naţional, 6 January 2009, retrieved 25 February 2009
- (in Romanian) "Elena Udrea: Nu-i partid ca PD-L, deşi avem şi noi uscături" ("Elena Udrea: There Is No Party like the PD-L, although We too Have Dead Wood"), Ziare.com, 12 April 2008, retrieved 25 February 2009
- (in Romanian) Mircea Marian, "Blonda de la Cotroceni nu se îngrijorează că preşedintele Norvegiei nu ne vrea in UE" ("The Cotroceni Blonde Isn't Worried that the Norwegian President Doesn't Want Us in the EU"), Adevărul, 20 April 2005, retrieved 25 February 2009
- (in Romanian) Roxana Grigorean, "Elena Udrea spune că va face tot posibilul ca turismul să aducă 20 mld. euro la PIB în 2012" ("Elena Udrea Says She Will Do Everything Possible for Tourism to Contribute 20 Billion Euros to the GDP in 2012"), Ziarul Financiar, 20 February 2009, retrieved 26 February 2009
- (in Romanian) Elena Stan, "Udrea: demisia şi dosare penale" ("Udrea: Resignation and Penal Dossiers", Jurnalul Naţional, 23 September 2009; accessed August 27, 2010
- (in Romanian) Florina Zainescu, Lacrima Andreica and Adriana Duţulescu, "Guvernul, îngropat cu lăutari" ("The Government, Interred with Lăutari", Jurnalul Naţional, 2 October 2009; accessed July 23, 2010
- (in Romanian) Gabriela Antoniu, "Lista de miniştri a guvernului Emil Boc 4" ("List of Ministers of the Emil Boc 4 Government", Jurnalul Naţional, 20 December 2009; accessed July 23, 2010
- (in Romanian) Dan Zăvăleanu, "Elena Udrea zboară din Guvern" ("Elena Udrea Flies from Government", Cotidianul, 8 February 2012; accessed February 9, 2012
- (in Romanian) "Boc, supravieţuitorul moţiunilor de cenzură, a cedat nemulţumirilor PDL şi protestelor străzii" ("Boc, Survivor of Censure Motions, Yielded to PDL Grievances and Street Protests", România Liberă, 6 February 2012; accessed February 9, 2012
- (in Romanian) Adriana Duţulescu, "Elena Udrea a luat Bucureştiul de la gruparea Blaga-Videanu" ("Elena Udrea Takes Bucharest from the Blaga-Videanu Group", Jurnalul Naţional, 19 July 2010; accessed July 23, 2010
- (in Romanian) Cristina Iana, Alina Vasile, Valentina Deleanu, "Elena Udrea a fost aleasă preşedinte al PDL Bucureşti: 'Eu vreau să scăpăm Bucureştiul de Sorin Oprescu'" ("Elena Udrea Elected President of Bucharest PDL: 'I Want Us to Get Bucharest Rid of Sorin Oprescu'", Adevărul, 21 November 2010; accessed November 21, 2010
- (in Romanian) Romulus Georgescu, "Elena Udrea, demisie cu aluzii la colegi" ("Elena Udrea, Resignation with Allusions to Her Colleagues", Adevărul, 12 June 2012; accessed June 13, 2012
- (in Romanian) Sorina Ionaşc, "Elena Udrea a demisionat din funcţia de vicepreşedinte PDL. Atacată dur în şedinţă de Vasile Blaga" ("Elena Udrea Resigns PDL Vice-Presidency. Sharply Criticized at Session by Vasile Blaga"), Gândul, 14 June 2012; accessed June 15, 2012
- (in Romanian) Carmen Vintilă, "Cine câștigă la loteria redistribuirii: Blaga, Anastase, Udrea, Boagiu, Stănișoară" ("Who Wins the Redistribution Lottery: Blaga, Anastase, Udrea, Boagiu, Stănișoară"), Evenimentul Zilei, 11 December 2012; accessed December 11, 2012
- (in Romanian) Romulus Georgescu, Sebastian Zachmann, "Vasile Blaga, noul preşedinte al PDL" ("Vasile Blaga, New PDL President"), Adevărul, 23 March 2013; accessed March 23, 2013
- (in Romanian) Sebastian Zachmann, "Elena Udrea a demisionat din PDL şi s-a înscris în PMP" ("Elena Udrea Resigns from PDL and Joins PMP"), Adevărul, 30 January 2014; accessed January 30, 2014
- (in Romanian) Mădălina Mihalache, Sebastian Zachmann, "Elena Udrea a fost aleasă preşedintele PMP" ("Elena Udrea Elected PMP President"), Adevărul, 7 June 2014; accessed June 7, 2014
- (in Romanian) Mădălina Mihalache, "Elena Udrea candidează, oficial, la Preşedinţie" ("Elena Udrea Officially Running for President"), Adevărul, 19 August 2014; accessed 20 August 2014
- (in Romanian) Alina Boghiceanu, "Rezultatele finale ale primului tur al prezidenţialelor" ("Final Results of First-Round Presidential Elections"), Adevărul, 4 November 2014; accessed 4 November 2014
- (in Romanian) Sorina Ionaşc, Loredana Voiculescu, "Pe cine susţine Elena Udrea în turul II" ("Whom Elena Udrea Is Supporting in Round II"), Gândul, 7 November 2014; accessed 7 November 2014
- (in Romanian) "Elena Udrea la DNA" ("Elena Udrea at the DNA"), Adevărul, 30 January 2015; accessed 30 January 2015
- (in Romanian) Alexandra Ciliac, Ionel Stoica, Andrei Stanca, "Elena Udrea a ajuns la Înalta Curte pentru arestarea preventivă" ("Elena Udrea Reaches High Court for Preventive Detention"), Evenimentul Zilei, 11 February 2015; accessed 11 February 2015
- "Chamber of Deputies approves arrest of former tourism minister Elena Udrea". Business Review. 10 February 2015. Retrieved 15 February 2015.
- (in Romanian) Diana Seceleanu, Andrei Aştefănesei, Mihai Stoica, "Elena Udrea şi Gala Bute" ("Elena Udrea and the Bute Gala"), Adevărul, 2 February 2015; accessed 3 March 2015
- (in Romanian) Mona Hera, "Elena Udrea, arestată preventiv în dosarul 'Gala Bute'" ("Elena Udrea Arrested in Gala Bute Case"), Mediafax, 25 February 2015; accessed 3 March 2015
- (in Romanian) Iulia Iancu, "Elena Udrea, Remus Cernea şi Theodor Paleologu au pierdut alegerile parlamentare" ("Elena Udrea, Remus Cernea and Theodor Paleologu Lose Parliamentary Elections"), România Liberă, 12 December 2016; accessed 13 December 2016
- (in Romanian) Firuța Flutur, "Elena Udrea, condamnată la şase ani de închisoare cu executare în dosarul 'Gala Bute' pentru luare de mită şi abuz în serviciu" ("Elena Udrea, Sentenced to Six Years' Imprisonment in the 'Gala Bute' Case for Bribery and Abuse of Power"), Mediafax, 28 March 2017; accessed 28 March 2017
- (in Romanian) "Elena Udrea: Bătălia, pe viaţă şi pe moarte" ("Elena Udrea: Battle of Life and Death"), Mediafax, 28 March 2017; accessed 13 May 2017
- (in Romanian) Ramona Feraru, "Elena Udrea a atacat, cu apel, decizia de condamnare la 6 ani de închisoare" ("Elena Udrea Appeals Six-Year Prison Sentence"), Evenimenul Zilei, 29 March 2017; accessed 13 May 2017
- (in Romanian) "Elena Udrea a fost condamnată la 6 ani de închisoare" ("Elena Udrea Sentenced to Six Years in Prison"), Digi24, 5 June 2018; accessed 12 June 2018
- (in Romanian) "Justiția română cere extrădarea Elenei Udrea" ("Romanian Justice System Seeks Elena Udrea's Extradition"), Digi24, 6 June 2018; accessed 12 June 2018
- (in Romanian) Dariana Nițu, Cezara Ionescu, "Elena Udrea şi Dorin Cocoş au divorţat" ("Elena Udrea and Dorin Cocoş Divorce"), 11 June 2013; accessed June 11, 2013
- (in Romanian) Dan Zăvăleanu, "Elena Udrea se îmbracă cu rochii de 14.310 lire sterline'" ("Elena Udrea Wears Dresses Costing 14,310 Pounds Sterling", Cotidianul, 16 August 2011; accessed November 3, 2011
- (in Romanian) "Elena Udrea vorbeşte despre rochia estimată la peste 16.000 de euro: 'Preţul ei e de vreo 20 ori mai mic'" ("Elena Udrea Talks about the Dress Estimated at over 16,000 Euros: 'Its Actual Price Is about 20 Times Smaller'"), Libertatea, 16 August 2011; accessed November 3, 2011
- "Boots and all: Romanian minister dons the rubber". The Age. 3 November 2011. Retrieved 3 November 2011.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Elena Udrea.|