Romanian President Approves Corruption Investigation Against Former Prime Minister By Reuters

BUCHAREST (Reuters) – Romanian President Klaus Iohannis on Wednesday approved a request from anti-corruption prosecutors to allow a criminal investigation against former prime minister and Senate President Calin Popescu Tariceanu for allegedly taking bribes. Tariceanu, 68, has denied all wrongdoing. Prosecutors have said Tariceanu received $ 800,000 worth of political consulting services during 2007-2008 paid for by an Austrian company in exchange for government bills on his behalf. Under Romanian law, the president must approve investigations against former cabinet ministers. Tariceanu has said that reopening the case is a way for Iohannis to get revenge and “completely remove his only opposition from the Romanian political scene.” So far, Iohannis has approved all requests from prosecutors to initiate criminal investigations. Anti-corruption prosecutors first tried to investigate Tariceanu in the case in 2019 when he was serving as president of the Senate, but lawmakers refused to lift his immunity. Tariceanu, who unsuccessfully ran for president and mayor of Bucharest in separate elections in 2019 and 2020 respectively, also failed to get his party to exceed the required minimum threshold in the December parliamentary elections. His ALDE party was a minor coalition partner in Social Democrat-led cabinets during 2017-2019 that attempted to decriminalize some corruption crimes and shorten sentences, raising concerns in the European Union and sparking Romania’s largest street protests in decades. In 2018, a Romanian court acquitted Tariceanu in a separate case of charges of giving false testimony to assist suspects in a broader real estate corruption case. Investigations by anti-corruption prosecutors have revealed conflicts of interest, abuse of power, fraud, and the award of state contracts in exchange for bribes across the lines of political parties in Romania. Transparency International ranks Romania as one of the most corrupt member states of the European Union and Brussels has kept its justice system under special control since joining the bloc in 2007.

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