Friday, January 31, 2014

Romanian ex-minister sent to prison for graft

Agence France-Presse
January 30, 2014

Romania's supreme court on Thursday upheld a five-year jail sentence against former Transport Minister Relu Fenechiu, the third former minister to be sent to prison on corruption charges in less than a month.

He is expected to begin his sentence within hours.

Fenechiu, 48, was found guilty of selling second-hand electrical equipment to a state company at the price of new equipment between 2002 and 2005. Prosecutors said the state lost 1.7 million euros ($2.3 million) in the deal.

The ex-minister has always insisted on his innocence.

Fenechiu is the third senior Romanian official to be sentenced to jail for corruption since the beginning of 2014, after former sports minister Monica Iacob Ridzi and ex-Prime Minister Adrian Nastase.

In a separate move, the owner of private rail company Grup Feroviar Roman (GFR) Gruia Stoica was detained for attempting to rig a tender for a contract for delivering large amounts of coal by rail.

Stoica is accused of promising a lawyer three million euros in exchange for crucial information on the bid submitted by the other bidder, the state-owned freight rail company CFR Marfa.

Stoica and Fenechiu were at the centre of another controversial deal in June, when the GFR was declared winner of a bid to privatise CFR Marfa, despite criticism from other bidders and from experts.

Fenechiu at the time said the sale of a 51-percent stake in CFR Marfa to Stoica's company would be a success but in October the government admitted the privatisation had failed.

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