Monday, September 13, 2010

Romanian media owner arrested over fraud case

(AP:BUCHAREST, Romania) One of Romania's most influential media owners was arrested Friday on allegations he aided a man convicted of fraud in the collapse of an investment scheme.

Prosecutors arrested Sorin Ovidiu Vantu, who owns Realitatea TV news channel, and he can be held for 29 days pending an investigation. Vantu's driver was also arrested in connection with the case.

Vantu is charged with helping Nicolae Popa leave Romania illegally in 2002 before he was sentenced to 15 years in prison for fraud. He also allegedly helped him financially while he was abroad.

Popa was tried in absentia for defrauding hundreds of thousands of people many of whom were left without their savings. He was arrested on an international warrant in Jakarta, Indonesia in December, and Romania has reportedly been trying to extradite him since.

Critics say the case is a politically motivated attempt to distract from the country's deep economic problems. Vantu is often criticized by President Traian Basescu, and Vantu's news channel reports critically on the government.

The government says it is tackling endemic corruption.

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