Romanian transport minister resigns after court sentences him to five years in jail.

By bne IntelliNews July 15, 2013

Romania’s transport minister Relu Fenechiu resigned after the court found him responsible for frauds and sentenced him to five years in jail, Adevarul daily reported. Fenechiu is a member of the junior ruling party PNL.

The ruling can be appealed but the facts are pretty straightforward and radical amendment of the ruling is unlikely. PM Victor Ponta will act as interim transport minister after President Traian Basescu approves the move.

Basically, Fenechiu and a group of other people including his brother were sentenced for having sold back in 2005 used electric equipment at overvalued price to state electricity company SISEE. Officials of the state company were also sentenced for corruption.

Fenechiu still denies the deeds and plans to appeal the decision. PM Ponta avoided commenting on the court decision but praised Fenechiu for his achievements - the privatisation of cargo railway company CFR Marfa [still in limbo] and the resumption of the EU sectoral operational programme SOP Transport.

PNL president Crin Antonescu also expressed support for Fenechiu. Other PNL members were more radical against the court decision. MEP and former justice minister Norica Nicolai simply claimed that the court decision is against the rule of law.

The case is important because Fenechiu is a highly influential member of the junior ruling party PNL. His wedding godfather is Dan Radu Rusanu, an even more influential PNL member currently head of the non-bank financial supervisory body.

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