Romania: Ruling party leader faces new corruption probe

The probe against leader of Romania's ruling Social Democratic Party (PSD) and Chamber of Deputies Speaker Liviu Dragnea is "a ideal example of the positive cooperation between the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) and national authorities", OLAF Acting Director-General Nicholas Ilett said on Monday after the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) announced having indicted Dragnea in the "Tel Drum" case for creating an organised criminal group, misusing his position for personal gain and funds defrauding, in his former capacity as president of the Teleorman County Council. Eight others are being investigated in the same case.

In January, his Social Democrats attempted to decriminalize some abuse-of-office offenses, sparking the biggest protests since the fall of communism.

The European Anti-Fraud Office, OLAF, said in a statement that it had uncovered evidence that 21 million euros ($24.4 million) was fraudulently paid to officials and others from the European Regional Development Fund for road construction in Romania.

The head of the Social Democrat party (PSD) is alleged to have misappropriated European Union money earmarked for infrastructure projects while he was council chairman of the southern Teleorman county between 2000 and 2012. It is an equipment taken over from the County Council. It was initially bought with public money and with the help of a credit contracted by the County Council.

After appearing before prosecutors on Monday, Dragnea denied any wrongdoing, telling the press that the allegations against him were politically motivated and that he would answer calls from the opposition for his resignation.

What power does Dragnea have?

The financial damages in the latest case involving Romanian Social Democrat Party (PSD) leader Liviu Dragnea amount to some Euro 27 million.

The 55-year-old was found guilty of electoral fraud in 2016 and received a suspended two-year prison sentence.

In October the PSD submitted a new bill before the Romania's parliament seeking to revamp the country's judiciary.

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