Romania head of commerce chamber gets 5 years in graft case

AP News
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Posted: Jun 18, 2015 4:01 PM

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — A court sentenced the former chairman of the Romanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry to five years in prison on Thursday for influence peddling and taking bribes.

Mihail Vlasov, chairman of the chamber from 2007 to 2014, was sentenced by the High Court of Justice and Cassation, whose ruling is final.

Prosecutors said Vlasov demanded 1 million euros ($1.14 million) from a businessman, saying that he could influence arbitrators at Romania's Court of International Commercial Arbitration to help the man recover losses in a litigation suit. In March 2014, Vlasov was caught receiving 200,000 euros ($228,000) from the businessman in a Bucharest restaurant.

In an unrelated case, Andrei Chiliman, the influential mayor of Bucharest's first district, was met by anti-corruption prosecutors at the airport Thursday and taken to their offices in the southern city of Ploiesti for questioning on suspicion of repeated influence peddling and belonging to an organized crime group. He was detained late Thursday.

Romania has intensified its anti-corruption drive in the past year. Prosecutors say Prime Minister Victor Ponta is suspected of a conflict of interest, forgery and tax evasion for work he did as a lawyer from 2007-2008 while he was a lawmaker. Ponta, who has political immunity for some of the charges, denies wrongdoing.