Romania ex-minister, mayor arrested in bribery probes

AP News
Posted: Apr 02, 2015 3:45 PM
Romania ex-minister, mayor arrested in bribery probes

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — A Romanian court has ordered the arrest of the previous finance minister and an influential mayor who face separate bribery charges.

Another court sentenced Romania's richest businessman to 2 ½ years in prison for paying a bribe to a party official in exchange for influence in the government.

The high court ruled Thursday that Darius Valcov can be arrested on charges that he took 2 million euros ($2.1 million) in bribes when he was a mayor. Valcov resigned on March 15 and was under house arrest.

Prosecutors say Valcov had hidden works by Picasso and Renoir, and 3 kilograms (6.6 pounds) of gold, in a friend's safe.

The court also ordered the arrest of Constanta Mayor Radu Mazare, who once dressed in a Nazi uniform at a fashion show.

Prosecutors say Mazare received 9 million euros ($9.8 million) in bribes in exchange for handing out permits and for letting a businessman win contracts to refurbish the city. Both are members of the ruling Social Democratic Party.

A court sentenced Ioan Niculae worth an estimated 1.1 billion euros ($1.25 billion) for paying a bribe of some 150,000 euros ($160,000) in 2009 to a member of the Social Democratic Party, then in opposition, ahead of presidential elections in exchange for having influence in the government.

The party official, Gheorghe Bunea Stanciu, was sentenced to three years. Niculae, owner of the InterAgro agriculture, energy and finance business and soccer club Astra Giurgiu, supported Mircea Geoana in the 2009 presidential race, which he lost. Two others were also handed 2 ½ year sentences. The court ordered Niculae pay back the sum of the bribe.