Romanian prosecutors seek MPs’ approval for probe into former minister Udrea

Romanian prosecutors seek MPs’ approval for probe into former minister Udrea
By bne IntelliNews October 12, 2016

The Romanian Anti Corruption Directorate (DNA) has asked for approval from the chamber of deputies to start an investigation into former Tourism Minister Elena Udrea on suspicion of instigation to bribe taking, the DNA announced on October 12.

Udrea is an alley of former President Traian Basescu and has already served several months under preventive arrest and home arrest last year on suspicion of abuse of office and bribe taking, in connection to a previous investigation.

The new investigation is related to the campaign for the presidential elections in 2009, a case in which Udrea is also suspected on five counts of money laundering.

“The cause is related to actions through which, during the campaign for the presidential elections in 2009, money was illegally collected and was later used to pay for services carried out in the electoral campaign,” the DNA said in a statement.

In September, prosecutors started an investigation into several people including Gheorghe Nastasia, a former state secretary in the tourism ministry, and Victor Tarhon, a former head of Tulcea county council, for bribe taking, as well as into Udrea for five acts of money laundering. Basescu's daughter Elena Basescu is also being investigated for instigation to abuse of office and money laundering.

According to the DNA, Udrea ordered Nastasia and Tarhon to ask the representatives of some companies which had contracts with the institutions they worked for at that time to pay for advertising services during the campaign.

Romanian anti-corruption prosecutors have stepped up their efforts to fight high level corruption in recent years. The DNA reported a record year in 2015. It indicted over 1,250 people for high and medium-level corruption crimes, and 970 defendants received final convictions. Five times more ministers - including the incumbent Prime Minister Victor Ponta - and members of parliament were sent to trial in 2015 compared to 2013.

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