Romanian parliament OKs corruption probe of lawmaker

AP News
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Posted: Feb 04, 2015 10:36 AM

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Romania's Parliament voted Wednesday to allow a formal criminal investigation of a former presidential candidate accused of corruption.

A parliamentary committee voted 20-1 to allow prosecutors to investigate Elena Udrea, one of the most influential politicians of the past decade.

The anti-corruption office then asked for her arrest, saying she was being investigated for allegedly taking bribes, making false statements and unfairly obtaining funds from the European Union.

Last week, prosecutors said they were investigating whether she failed to declare money received in 2010 from her then-husband, as she is required to do as a lawmaker. Udrea has denied wrongdoing.

Since then, she has accused a senior intelligence officer of meddling in Romania's political life and threatened to release damning information on politicians and journalists.

Her ex-husband, Dorin Cocos, is charged with taking a bribe of 9 million euros ($10.1 million).

Udrea, 41, a former tourism minister, gained notoriety because of her close relationship with Traian Basescu, president from 2004 to 2014.

Also Wednesday, President Klaus Iohannis approved a request to prosecute Adriean Videanu, economy minister from 2008 to 2010, on charges that as minister he embezzled state funds by offering illegal discounts on natural gas to a private gas company. Videanu is also an ally of Basescu.

Media boss Adrian Sarbu was arrested late Tuesday for 30 days on charges of tax evasion and money laundering worth 3 million euros ($3.4 million). He denies wrongdoing and claims the charges are motivated by political rivals who want to take over his financially struggling news agency, Mediafax.