The Romanian Parliament will decide this Tuesday whether the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) can begin a criminal investigation against PM Victor Ponta who was indicted last week for forgery, money laundering, tax evasion and conflict of interest. The Parliament’s approval to lift Ponta’s immunity from prosecution is required as the he is also an MP.
President Klaus Iohannis called on the PM to resign on Friday after the charges were brought against him, but Ponta refused. He said that only Parliament can dismiss him. Given that the Social Democrat Party (PSD), whose president is Ponta, holds the majority in Parliament, tomorrow’s vote will most likely be a negative one. Should Ponta remain in office, Romania is looking at another political crisis ahead, analysts fear.
The official charges brought by DNA against the PM are: document forgery under private signature, continued complicity in tax evasion and money laundering in the Turceni – Rovinari file. Dan Sova, a former minister in the Ponta government and also a PSD MP is indicted in the same file.
Ponta is accused of having received in the period 2007-2009, when he was a lawyer, unlawful payments from Sova’s law firm which provided legal counseling to state-owned energy companies Turceni and Rovinari. DNA prosecutors allege that Ponta’s legal practice never actually rendered any services to Sova’s, who used most of the money from the two energy companies for himself and his acquaintances.
Ponta is believed to have used some of the money received from Sova to buy two luxury apartments in Bucharest and a Mitsubishi Lancer car. In 2011 when the authorities began a fiscal inspection at Sova’s law firm, the two had allegedly agreed to forge legal counselling reports to justify the payments to Ponta’s individual legal practice.
Ponta, has been acting as PM since 2012.
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