Thursday, May 14, 2009

Romanian Mins Investigated For Possible Corruption

BUCHAREST (AFP)--Seven Romanian ministers and four Bucharest city officials are being investigated by the National Integrity Agency, or ANI, on suspicion of corruption and conflict of interest, the agency said Wednesday.

"I confirm that seven ministers and four Bucharest district mayors are currently the subject of inquiries," ANI president Alexandru Macovei told Newsin news agency, without providing further details.

Media have reported that the agency launched investigations after noticing apparent errors in the ministers' and officials' declaration of assets.

The ANI was set up in 2007 in response to Brussels' concerns over widespread corruption in Romania. Its task is to examine where assets and moneys belonging to cabinet members and elected and public officials come from to determine potential conflicts of interest or signs of corruption.

These latest investigations targeting government ministers come just as Brussels is evaluating Bucharest's progress in terms of justice reform and anti- corruption, ahead of a report due in July.

If progress is deemed insufficient, the European Commission can impose sanctions on Romania, including refusing to recognize legal decisions made by the European Union newcomer, which joined the bloc in 2007.

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