Romanian premier Victor Ponta charged with fraud

By bne IntelliNews September 17, 2015

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Romanian President Klaus Iohannis has again questioned the ability of Prime Minister Victor Ponta to remain in office after he was formally indicted for fraud.

Iohannis, who is backed by the opposition National Liberal Party, expressed concerns about the government’s credibility on September 17 and asked the ruling Social Democratic Party (PSD) whether it still insisted on supporting Ponta as head of cabinet under the current circumstances.

The National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) announced on September 17 that it has submitted to court the file under which Ponta, MP Dan Sova and the former top managers of energy company CE Oltenia are indicted for financial fraud. 

Ponta, who denies the charges, resigned from the PSD leadership in mid-July until he proves his innocence, claiming that he doesn't want the situation to affect the party. However, he has constantly refused to step down from the government.

The charges against Ponta relate to when he was lawyer, prior to becoming prime minister in 2012. Consequently, the indictment does not change his legal situation and Ponta does not have to resign as premier. Parliament rejected lifting Ponta’s parliamentary immunity in June so that he could face accusations of conflicts of interest dating from his term as prime minister.

Under the current indictment file sent to the court, prosecutors claim that Ponta forged documents to cover payments made to him between 2007 and 2008, a period before he became a government minister and when he was still working as a lawyer. The payments, amounting to some €40,000, were made by the law firm of MP Dan Sova for services related to a contract with state-owned company CE Oltenia that were allegedly never delivered.

 

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