Romanian PM’s assets impounded by prosecutors in corruption case
Romanian prime minister Victor Ponta was named a defendant in a criminal case brought against a former minister in his cabinet, with anti-corruption prosecutors impounding assets worth 261 000 lei (about 59 100 euro at current exchange rates) on July 13.
Ponta met with anti-corruption prosecutors briefly on July 13 and told reporters afterwards that he exercised his right to remain silent.
Anti-corruption prosecutor’s office DNA said in a statement that Ponta was suspected of 17 counts of document fraud, complicity to tax evasion and money-laundering. Specifically, Ponta’s legal firm is suspected of issuing fictitious bills in 2007/08 to another legal firm, owned by fellow Social-Democrat, senator Dan Sova, which also paid the leasing bills for a car used by Ponta.
Last month, prosecutors asked parliament’s permission to press charges of conflict of interest against Ponta in the same investigation – because Ponta appointed Sova to several ministerial positions between 2012 and 2014, after having financially benefitted from the relationship between the two legal firms – but the request was shot down.
The announcement comes a day after Ponta said he was stepping down indefinitely – until he proved his innocence – as leader of the Social-Democrat party, the majority partner in the current coalition government. However, shortly after his visit to the prosecution’s offices on July 13, he attended a meeting of the ruling coalition’s council, saying that he had been invited to take part in the meeting.
Ponta “gave no indication” that he intended to resign as head of government, the leader of one minority partner in the ruling coalition said after the meeting.
President Klaus Iohannis, who defeated Ponta in a run-off last year, said during a visit to Spain on July 13 that his “opinion on Victor Ponta remains the same as on June 5”, when he asked the prime minister’s resignation, but said that the presidential and government institutions would continue their co-operation.
(Romanian prime minister Victor Ponta photo by gov.ro)