BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Romania's Prince Paul was detained Friday in a case of alleged real estate fraud also involving a top aide to a former prime minister and a newspaper editor.
Anti-corruption prosecutors said in a statement Paul Philippe of Romania was being investigated for money laundering, illicitly obtaining assets and buying influence. He has not been formally charged. He denies wrongdoing.
The 67-year-old prince, the grandson of Carol II, was questioned Friday afternoon and later handcuffed and detained for 24 hours in the central city of Brasov, where the probe is being conducted.
Romania's monarchy ended when the communists came to power. Paul's uncle, King Michael, was forced to abdicate in 1947. Paul is estranged from Michael.
Prosecutors said that starting from 2006, politically-connected businessman Remus Truica and four others used their leverage and influence to get the state to restitute land and properties to Paul while he in turn gave them a share of the value of the real estate.
Truica is suspected of setting up a group that is alleged to have fraudulently acquired 170,000 square meters (1.8 million square feet) of state-owned land Paul. The fraud is estimated at 136 million euros ($150 million).
The properties and land had been confiscated from the royal family by the communist regime.
Prosecutors said Paul used the influence of Truica and others to "unjustly" obtain the assets.
Paul says he is a victim of Truica, the former head of Cabinet of ex-Premier Adrian Nastase, who was put under house arrest Friday.
Meanwhile, the managing director of daily Evenimentul Zilei, Dan Andronic, quit his job Friday after being charged with being part of the same criminal group. Three others have also been charged.
The head of the Academy of Agricultural Science is also being investigated for agreeing to restitute land to Paul without the proper legal grounds.