Bucharest mayor detained on suspicion of taking bribes

AP News
Posted: Sep 06, 2015 9:58 AM

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Anti-corruption prosecutors in Romania detained the influential mayor of Bucharest early Sunday on suspicion that he took bribes of 25,000 euros ($28,000) from firms working for city hall.

The anti-corruption prosecutors' office said in a statement that from 2013-2015, firms which had contracts with Bucharest city hall were obliged to pay up to 70 percent of their profits from work they did for the city hall to high-ranking officials. Of that, 10 percent allegedly went directly to Mayor Sorin Oprescu.

His lawyer, Alexandru Chiciu, denied that Oprescu had ever solicited bribes, either directly or through a third party.

Prosecutors detained Oprescu just after midnight after he was reportedly filmed taking the bribe, Agerpres news agency reported.

He was later taken handcuffed by prosecutors from his home north of Bucharest. Agerpres reported that that prosecutors earlier found some of the 25,000 euros on him and the rest was found at his home. Prosecutors searched city hall, Oprescu's home, and the homes of other city hall employees on Sunday. A court will decide whether to formally arrest him later Sunday.

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The 63-year-old Oprescu has been Bucharest mayor since 2008. He ran for president in 2009 and was formerly a senator of the ruling Social Democratic Party.