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Ministers Subject to Criminal Investigation

Another political scandal comes to mar the image of the Romaian Government and its members.

Ministers Subject to Criminal Investigation
Vicepremierul Liviu Dragnea. Foto: gov.ro.

Articol de Radio România Internaţional, 08 Octombrie 2013, 14:55

Within a year and a half of its rise to power, the Social Liberal Union already has a long list of ministers and minister hopefuls who have many a time found themselves on the wrong side of the law. The list of irregularities varies extensively, from cases of incompatibility and bogus declarations of assets to prison sentences, of which some were suspended.

The last two names that are now in the crosshairs of the National Integrity Agency are those of Liberal Varujan Vosganian, a former Economy Minister, and of Social Democrat Liviu Dragnea, who has chosen to hold on to his position of Deputy Prime Minister. Vosganian on Monday presented his resignation against the backdrop of his involvement in a corruption case, in which he is suspected of plotting and undermining the national economy.

Prosecutors are accusing Dragnea of having used his influence during his term as Economy and Finance Minister in 2008 to help a private company obtain preferential prices for natural gas supplies from the state-owned Romgaz. The aggravating factor is that the aforementioned company, owned by an influential businessman, had already incurred huge debt towards its supplier. In turn, Varujan Vosganian claims the economic measures he introduced had been politically motivated. Therefore, Vosganian argues, prosecutors have exceeded their authority.

Even so, his resignation is itself something hard to ignore, given that politicians who step down represent a rare sight for Romanian politics. In general, ministers who’ve had run-ins with the law don’t resign in the first phase, when the authorities launch criminal proceedings against them, but only upon receiving a sentence. On the other hand, the honorable act of resigning is overshadowed by the latest developments in the Senate, as senators voted against the filed request to lift Vosganian’s parliamentary immunity with a large majority.

This is further evidence that MPs will continue to side with fellow colleagues under investigation, irrespective of who they are, the party they represent, the allegations they are presented with or the amount of evidence brought against them. In the case of Deputy Prime Minister Liviu Dragnea, Victor Ponta’s right hand both in the Government and within his own party, he may face trial for alleged fraud in last year’s referendum on the impeachment of President Traian Basescu. The indictment filed by the National Anti-Corruption Directorate includes charges of multiple voting, electoral tourism and signature forgery. In turn, Dragnea denied the accusations as ungrounded, claiming the whole investigation is nothing but a politically instrumented move.

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