Thursday, February 27, 2014

Romanian prosecutors seek graft probe against ex-minister

BUCHAREST, Feb 26 (Reuters) - Romanian anti-corruption prosecutors want to start a criminal investigation against former liberal minister Cristian David on allegations of abuse of power and falsifying documents, they said on Wednesday.

David's criminal probe comes one day after prosecutors requested permission to investigate former finance minister Daniel Chitoiu as the European Union state cracks down on high-level graft.

Romania ranks behind only Greece and Bulgaria in terms of corruption in the 28-nation EU, according to Transparency International, and the European Commission has its justice system under special monitoring.

Prosecutors said David falsified his mandatory wealth statement to account for 60,000 euros stemming from unknown sources, writing it down as a personal loan his mother has returned to him.

"Evidence shows David ... did not have a legal document to account for the sum of 60,000 euros he needed to mention in his wealth statement," prosecutors said in a statement.

David denied any wrongdoing.

He resigned his post as minister in charge of the diaspora on Wednesday, one day after his party quit the ruling coalition following a row with their Social Democrat partners.

David has been a senator and interior minister in a previous cabinet. He said on Wednesday he had resigned his membership with the Liberals so as to not damage the party's image.

Data from prosecutors showed 10 Romanian officials were convicted last year, including five deputies, one senator and two ministers. Eight other officials were subject to criminal investigations, including one current deputy prime minister. (Reporting by Luiza Ilie; Editing by Toby Chopra)

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