Romanian anti-corruption official quits after bribe probe

AP News
Posted: Mar 17, 2015 9:47 AM

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — A Romanian anti-corruption official detained on suspicion he inflated property prices, costing the state 75 million euros ($82 million), resigned Tuesday

Horia Georgescu stepped down as head of the National Integrity Agency, which checks the assets of public officials and rules on conflict of interest and compatibility issues. Seven other people have also been detained in the past two days in his case, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors questioned and detained Georgescu Monday on suspicion that in 2008-2009 when he held a different position he overvalued property being restituted to former owners who lost it when the communists nationalized real estate. He denies wrongdoing.

Prosecutors told The Associated Press the allegations center on the value of three large plots of land in the capital, Bucharest.

Prime Minister Victor Ponta declined to specifically comment on the Georgescu case Tuesday, but said Romania's anti-corruption drive is "a very important process for a democratic country," during a meeting with foreign news agencies.

Prosecutors have launched a series of high-level corruption investigations in recent months. Finance Minister Darius Valcov resigned Sunday after prosecutors charged him with taking 2 million euros ($2.1 million) in bribes when he was a mayor. He denies wrongdoing.

Ponta pointed out that the allegations refer to a period about seven years ago, adding "he was one of the best members of the Cabinet, but this is politics." No successor has been named yet.