Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Romania ex-economy minister jailed in energy scandal

Agence France-Presse 
March 31, 2014

Romania's former minister of the economy Codrut Seres was sentenced to four years in prison on Monday for his part in a corruption scandal in which the country's largest power producer undersold electricity at a huge loss to the exchequer.

Seres turned a blind eye to the signing of contracts that were highly unfavourable to state-run electricity company Hidroelectrica while he headed the ministry between 2004 and 2006.

Four former directors of Hidroelectrica were also given sentences of four to five years by the High Court in Bucharest on Monday.

They were accused of selling electricity well below market prices in a series of corrupt deals with businesses between 2002 and 2004 at a loss estimated at $165 million (120 million euros).

The poor management of Hidroelectrica forced the company to declare insolvency in 2012, and it has struggled to stay afloat since.

Seres, who denied all the allegations against him, was already sentenced to six years in prison in December in a case of economic espionage related to the privatisation of state-run companies, in which he was accused of "treason through the transmission of secrets".

He is currently free while he appeals December's ruling, and is expected to also appeal Monday's decision.

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