Anti-corruption agency investigating Romanias Prime Minister

Author : outlinger1926
Publish Date : 2021-04-03


Anti-corruption agency investigating Romanias Prime Minister

The National Anticorruption Directorate, also known as DNA, questioned Prime Minister Victor Ponta on Friday morning regarding allegations dating back eight years, according to reports from Romania's Agerpres national news agency.

The claims are tied to his working relationship with Dan Sova, a lawyer and Romanian senator, mostly from before Ponta became prime minister in 2012. Specifically, prosecutors claim Sova's law firm paid Ponta's own practice for counseling regarding the state-owned energy companies of Turceni and Rovinari. But they alleged that Ponta never actually provided services, instead using 'money from Sova to buy two luxury apartments in Bucharest' and getting free use of a car, Agerpres reported.

Prosecutors further allege that 'Sova agreed with Ponta to forge legal counseling reports to justify the payments' in 2011, according to the news agency.



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The next year, Ponta not only became prime minister, but he appointed Sova to the first of several ministerial roles -- including as liaison for Parliament, delegate for infrastructure and foreign investment, as well as interim transportation minister. The National Anticorruption Directorate characterized these appointments as evidence of conflict of interest.

Immediately after news surfaced about the allegations, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis publicly called for Ponta to resign as prime minister.

'In my opinion, it is an impossible situation for Romania to have the Prime Minister charged with major offenses,' Iohannis said, according to Agerpres. 'On the other hand, the worst thing that could happen to Romania now is a political crisis.'

After meeting with the President, Ponta held his ground, saying he was 'appointed by the Parliament and only the parliament can dismiss me.'

'Under no circumstances can I accept (that) a DNA prosecutor is above the Parliament, the government and the citizens of this country,' he said on Facebook, reflecting on what Romania has gone through since pulling away from the Soviet bloc. 'It would mean dictatorship, and I think that more than 25 years after 1989, it would be a major error for us all.'

That said, Romania hasn't been free of corruption in that time.

After a trial that lasted more than 1,000 days, former Prime Minister Adrian Nastase was sentenced to two years in prison for illegally raising 1.6 million euros ($2.1 million) during his 2004 presidential election campaign. Romania's highest court held up that decision in 2012, after which Nastase shot himself in the neck in an apparent suicide attempt.

Ex-PM shoots self after court backs prison term

More recently, former sports and youth minister Monica Iacob Ridzi was sentenced to five years in prison in February for a host of improprieties like illegally contracting companies for goods and services, spending exorbitantly on concerts for young people and deleting allegedly incriminating emails, the Anticorruption Director notes.

That same month, the DNA reported ordered the arrest of former tourism minister and presidential candidate Elena Udrea for 30 days on three allegations of influence peddling, according to the Anticorruption Directorate.

Also in February, a company owned by Ponta's sister and brother-in-law were among 14 locations raided by anticorruption investigators.

Ponta -- the head of the left-leaning government -- himself has railed against corruption. He made tackling it one of his 2014 campaign for president -- an election that he lost, notably, to Iohannis.



That said, Romania hasn't been free of corruption in that time. That same month, the DNA reported ordered the arrest of former tourism minister and presidential candidate Elena Udrea for 30 days on three allegations of influence peddling, according to the Anticorruption Directorate. Immediately after news surfaced about the allegations, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis publicly called for Ponta to resign as prime minister. After meeting with the President, Ponta held his ground, saying he was 'appointed by the Parliament and only the parliament can dismiss me.' Ponta -- the head of the left-leaning government -- himself has railed against corruption. He made tackling it one of his 2014 campaign for president -- an election that he lost, notably, to Iohannis. Prosecutors further allege that 'Sova agreed with Ponta to forge legal counseling reports to justify the payments' in 2011, according to the news agency. That said, Romania hasn't been free of corruption in that time. Immediately after news surfaced about the allegations, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis publicly called for Ponta to resign as prime minister. That same month, the DNA reported ordered the arrest of former tourism minister and presidential candidate Elena Udrea for 30 days on three allegations of influence peddling, according to the Anticorruption Directorate. That said, Romania hasn't been free of corruption in that time. That said, Romania hasn't been free of corruption in that time. The claims are tied to his working relationship with Dan Sova, a lawyer and Romanian senator, mostly from before Ponta became prime minister in 2012. Specifically, prosecutors claim Sova's law firm paid Ponta's own practice for counseling regarding the state-owned energy companies of Turceni and Rovinari. But they alleged that Ponta never actually provided services, instead using 'money from Sova to buy two luxury apartments in Bucharest' and getting free use of a car, Agerpres reported. 'In my opinion, it is an impossible situation for Romania to have the Prime Minister charged with major offenses,' Iohannis said, according to Agerpres. 'On the other hand, the worst thing that could happen to Romania now is a political crisis.'

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