Monday, September 24, 2007

Romanian Anti-Graft Agency Aims to Investigate Labor Minister

By Adam Brown

Sept. 24 (Bloomberg) -- Romania's anti-corruption agency said it aims to investigate graft allegations against Labor Minister Paul Pacuraru, bringing to four the number of ministers and former ministers it plans to probe this year.

The nation's top anti-corruption agency, which needs permission from President Traian Basescu to investigate former and present cabinet ministers, has also asked to probe Justice Minister Tudor Chiuariu, former Communications Minister Zsolt Nagy, and ex-Defense Minister Victor Babiuc.

``I have never taken a bribe and will never take a bribe,'' Pacuraru said in a live interview with Realitatea television today. He said the investigation was politically motivated and accused Basescu of instigating the probe to discredit his rival, Prime Minister Calin Tariceanu.

Infighting between the main political parties since Romania joined the European Union on Jan. 1 has delayed programs meant to speed up the absorption of EU funds and fight corruption, a key EU demand. Tariceanu and Basescu, former allies, split early this year amid corruption accusations against each other.

The anti-graft agency, known as the DNA, didn't outline its accusations against Pacuraru in an e-mail today. It has said it also aims to probe Nagy, Chiuariu and other in relation to the sale of government land to Gigi Becali, a private businessman and owner of Bucharest's Steauau soccer team.

To contact the reporter on this story: Adam Brown in Bucharest at abrown23@bloomberg.net

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