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World

AFP
November 14, 2017

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Romania’s ruling left leader investigated in fresh corruption probe

Romania’s ruling left leader investigated in fresh corruption probe

BUCHAREST: The powerful boss of Romania’s ruling left, Liviu Dragnea, is being investigated for abuse of power and embezzlement of European Union funds, the national anti-corruption agency said on Monday.

The head of the Social Democrat party (PSD) is alleged to have misappropriated EU money earmarked for infrastructure projects while he was council chairman of the southern Teleorman county between 2000 and 2012.

The 55-year-old was found guilty of electoral fraud in 2016 and received a suspended two-year prison sentence. The conviction meant he was barred from running for premier after the PSD won elections last December.

Dragnea is also on trial for alleged abuse of power in a separate case. He has rejected the charges. In the latest case, Dragnea is accused of "obtaining, either directly or via aides, goods and services used for personal purposes or for his party", Romania’s anti-corruption prosecutor’s office (DNA) said in a statement.

Eight other people are also under investigation, it added. The agency said the case was brought to its attention by the EU’s anti-fraud office in September 2016.

Romania joined the EU in 2007 and in recent years has been enjoying strong economic growth, but both Brussels and the International Monetary Fund have pressed the government to do more to tackle graft. Thousands of Romanians demonstrated on Sunday for a second weekend in a row against against proposed judicial reforms which they say will weaken the country’s anti-corruption drive.

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