Saturday

23rd Mar 2019

Romania's PM in corruption and money laundering charges

Romania’s prime minister Victor Ponta is facing charges of corruption, forgery, money laundering, tax evasion, and conflict of interest.

Prosecutors from the DNA, Romania's anti-corruption agency, on Monday (13 July) "temporarily seized assets" belonging to the leftist leader following a five week investigation.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

A DNA statement said “prosecutors ordered a stepping-up of the penal action against the defendant Ponta, a lawyer at the time of the deeds”.

Romania’s latest crackdown is part of a larger effort to shake off its widespread reputation for corruption since it joined the European Union in 2007. Hundreds of others have been targeted over the years.

But Ponta, who has dismissed calls for his resignation from president Klaus Iohannis, is now the first sitting prime minister in Romania with a possible criminal wrapsheet.

“I am the prime minister of this coalition and I am presenting myself in a disciplined way,” he said after the indictment.

Iohannis, who is Ponta's political rival, at the time said “it is an impossible situation for Romania to have a prime minister charged with major offences”.

Despite the charges, Iohannis says he'll maintain an institutional relation with the prime minister.

The 42-year PM old on Sunday stepped down as leader of the governing PSD social democrat party in order, he says, to clear his name.

The party and its allies meanwhile managed to block parliament moves to strip him of his immunity after prosecutors announced the launch of the investigation in early June.

Ponta can claim protection from charges like conflict of interest for his time as prime minister but is not immune from money laundering and tax evasion.

The leader of a junior ally from the liberal ALDE faction voiced support to the troubled PM, reports Reuters.

"Our plan is to get together in the coalition government until the 2016 parliament election," said Calin Tariceanu.

The alleged criminal acts stem from Ponta's time as a lawyer before he became prime minister in 2012. He is also accused of accepting some €55,000 from a member of parliament who is also a close ally. He allegedly used some of the money to buy two luxury apartments in Bucharest.

Ponta, who returned to Bucharest after a month long stint in Turkey to recover from a knee surgery, says the charges against him are politically motivated.

He arrived at the DNA office on Monday in crutches.

Romanian PM under fire on corruption charges

Members of the lower house of the Romanian parliament have voted against lifting the immunity of prime minister Victor Ponta, who has been accused of forgery, tax evasion, and money laundering.

Bulgaria fails to adopt key anti-corruption law

Bulgaria’s parliament has failed to approve a key piece of legislation to fight high-level corruption in a setback for the government of centre-right prime minister Boiko Borisov.

Romanian anti-corruption protests bring down PM

A nightclub fire that killed 32 people in Bucharest has triggered a popular movement against corruption in the capital and in the government. PM Ponta promised to resign.

Centre-right EPP faces showdown with Orban

The EU's largest political alliance, the EPP, will try to put the 'Orban issue' behind it going into the European election campaign. Hungary's ruling party, Fidesz, could be expelled or suspended from the political family.

EU countries push for new rule of law surveillance

Germany and Belgium have put forward a proposal for a "peer review" of EU countries' legal systems as member states and EU institutions struggle with disciplining member states that break EU rules.

Orban hosts Weber in Budapest for EPP showdown

The future of the Viktor Orban's Fidesz party inside the European Parliament's centre-right EPP political group hangs in the balance. On Tuesday, Orban and EPP chief Manfred Weber meet in Budapest in a final effort to iron out differences.

News in Brief

  1. EU leaders at summit demand more effort on disinformation
  2. Report: Corbyn to meet May on Monday for Brexit talks
  3. Petition against Brexit attracts 2.4m signatures
  4. Study: Brexit to cost EU citizens up to €40bn annually
  5. NGOs demand France halt Saudi arm sales
  6. Report: Germany against EU net-zero emissions target
  7. Former top EU official takes job at law firm
  8. Draft text of EU summit has Brexit extension until 22 May

Opinion

Catalan independence trial is widening Spain's divides

What is really needed is not the theatre of a rebellion trial, but a forensic examination of whether public funds were misused, and a process of dialogue and negotiation on how the Catalan peoples' right to self-determination can be satisfied.

Orban hosts Weber in Budapest for EPP showdown

The future of the Viktor Orban's Fidesz party inside the European Parliament's centre-right EPP political group hangs in the balance. On Tuesday, Orban and EPP chief Manfred Weber meet in Budapest in a final effort to iron out differences.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  5. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  8. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID

Latest News

  1. Italy takes China's new Silk Road to the heart of Europe
  2. What EU leaders agreed on climate - and what they mean
  3. Copyright and (another) new Brexit vote This WEEK
  4. EU avoids Brexit crash, sets new date for 12 April
  5. Campaigning commissioners blur the lines
  6. Slovakia puts squeeze on free press ahead of election
  7. EPP suspends Orban's Fidesz party
  8. Macron is confusing rigidity with strength

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us