EXCLUSIVE. IKEA deals in communist-era Romania were interfered with by dictator Ceausescu's secret service Securitate - unclassified files Swedish company IKEA used to run business with communist Romania in the eighties, involving confidential overbilling operations which were joined by dictator Nicolae Ceausescu's secret service, the dreaded Securitate, according to documents consulted by Files available at the National Council for the Study of Securitate Archives show that at one point in the eighties the head of Romania's espionage, General Aristotel Stamatoiu, ordered a transfer of money to an IKEA account at East Germany's Bank of Foreign Commerce. The operation codenamed Scandinavica was coordinated by a foreign Securitate officer who now heads Bucharest football club Dinamo.
Romania Senate speaker Crin Antonescu resigns National ​Liberal Party (PNL) leader Crin Antonescu announced his resignation as Senate speaker on Tuesday, at the peak of a political conflict with the Social Democrats (PSD), with whom the Liberals shared the government until last week. The announcement comes days after PNL announced it was withdrawing from the governing alliance with the PSD and the day when a new government - the third - led by Social Democratic leader Victor Ponta was expecting a vote of validation in Parliament.
Romania sees no immediate risks to national security related to Crimea crisis. President Basescu says any Russian military presence in Ukraine without Ukrainian consent would be an aggression ​Romania did not raise the level of alert for its national security structures following the situation in Crimea but will monitor very closely the situation in Ukraine as well as separatist evolutions in the Republic of Moldova, the Romanian Presidency said in a statement on Saturday evening. The statement came after a working meeting of president Basescu with representatives of national security structures in relation to the situation in Ukraine. Prior to the meeting, Basescu said that any Russian Federation military presence in Ukraine, without Ukraine's approval and beyond the limits of bilateral accords, would be seen as an act of aggression.
Head of Romania's Financial Supervisory Authority, retained by anti-graft prosecutors. Criminal inquiry called against former Finance minister Daniel Chitoiu ​The head of Romania's Financial Supervisory Authority (ASF) was retained for 24 hours by National Anticorruption Department (DNA) prosecutors on Tuesday, who are calling for a 30-day preventive arrest in a case related to ASF officials accused of protecting the interests of an insurance company. DNA also called on Tuesday for a criminal inquiry against former Finance minister Daniel Chitoriu in the same case.
Romania President hails evolution in Ukraine: Overcoming extremist or nationalist actions would contribute to national consensus ​Romania President Traian Basescu sent a message regarding the situation in Ucraine on Sunday, hailing the halt of violence and urging all political leaders in Ukraine to show calm, restraint, pragmatism and caution, maximum availability to dialog and flexibility.
Former Romanian diplomat involved in Singapore car crash receives six year sentence ​Romania's former charge d'affaires to Singapore, Silviu Ionescu, who was involved in a lethal car crash in Singapore in 2009, has received a six year prison sentence in a final ruling of the Bucharest Appeals Court.
Former Romanian minister Relu Fenechiu receives final 5 year sentence in corruption case Romania's High Court maintained on Thursday a five year prison sentence under corruption charges against former Transport minister Relu Fenechiu, an influential Liberal politician. The High Court maintained a previous 5-year sentence issued last year, but which was challenged. Fenechiu was  charged with abuse in office against public interest and complicity to abuse in office, in a case dating in the early 2000's and related to public procurements in the region of Moldova, which benefited his companies.
Romanian ex-PM Adrian Nastase receives new prison sentence in corruption case as struggle over justice system intensifies Romania's top court gave a final ruling on Monday sentencing ex-PM Adrian Nastase to five years and giving his wife a suspended 3-year sentence for complicity to bribe-taking. It is the second corruption-related prison sentence applied to Nastase, who served as prime minister in the early 2000's and it comes as the EU monitors Romania's progress in the justice sector while domestic struggle over control of the judiciary intensifies.
Romanian Parliament sparks harsh international reactions with vote to provide immunity against corruption charges Romanian MPs voted on Tuesday a series of changes to the Penal Code that would boost their immunity in case of corruption charges. The vote, which prompted media to call it "The Black Tuesday" of Romanian democracy, sparked a series of harsh reactions from Western embassies and international institutions on Wednesday. "This move by the Parliament is a step away from transparency and rule-of-law and is a discouraging sign for investors", said the US Embassy to Bucharest in one of its harshest positions on Romanian events for years.
UPDATE Romanian deputies from Judicial Commission secretly vote amnesty law setting ground for amnesty to prison sentences of up to 6 years and full pardon for prison sentences of up to 7 years, Bill eventually withdrawn A draft legislation on amnesty proposed by two Romanian deputies received amendments in a secret session by members of the Judicial Commission of the House of Deputies on Monday night. While the Commission was discussing a bill on lobby activities, some of the Commission members met separately to amend the amnesty bill. According to sources, the bill was changed as follows: amnesty for certain offenses sanctioned with prison sentences of up to 6 years and full pardon for prison sentences of up to seven years in certain cases. The change, supported by the Social Democrats according to sources, would benefit prominent politicians who have been accused or even sentenced for corruption crimes, including former PM Adrian Nastase.UPDATE The bill was eventually withdrawn from the Tuesday plenary session agenda following protests from all parliamentary parties excluding PSD and the Conservative Party.
Major investigation in 50 million euro tax evasion case involving Romanian senator, Finance Ministry employees and a prosecutor ​Romanian investigators launched over 160 searches at the headquarters of various companies and at homes in Bucharest and the counties of Prahova, Giurgiu, Arad, Calarasi and Ialomita on Monday. The investigation eyes the activity of over 100 Romanian and foreign companies suspect of dodging taxes worth about 50 million euro. Informed sources told the investigation eyes employees of the National Tax Administration Agency and of the Public Finance Ministry as well as a High Court prosecutor and a senator.
Hundreds of people protest in Romanian village where Chevron is due to place shale gas exploration drills Several hundreds of people were protesting in the village of Silistea-Pungesti in Eastern Romania on Wednesday against plans by US company Chevron to start operating the first shale gas exploration drill in the county of Vaslui, news agency Agerpres reports.
Sources: Romania PM Victor Ponta to leave for US on Sunday Romania's prime minister Victor Ponta is due to leave for an official visit to the US on Sunday, but it all depends on how the government shutdown in the States comes to an end - if no solution is found by Friday, the visit might be postponed, diplomatic sources have told They said PM Ponta's agenda includes talks with Vice-President Joe Biden and another top official and a series of meetings with representatives of US companies. Meanwhile, Romanian minister-delegate for Energy Constantin Nita attends an energy and investments conference in Washington DC.
US Embassy to Bucharest insists on vital importance of Romania's key anti-corruption body ​The US Embassy to Bucharest issued a statement on Friday related to a major scandal engulfing Romanian politics, sparked by a prosecutor general's decision to dismiss a key anti-graft prosecutor from office, a move seen by many observers as a political interference with the judiciary. The Embassy warns of the vital importance of the National Anti-Corruption Department in efforts to ensure the independence of the justice system and to fight corruption.
U.S. Embassy reacts to Romania justice scandal: The appointments in the National Anti-Corruption Directorate must be the result of correct procedures and consultation The Embassy of the United States to Bucharest made a statement on Friday related to the scandal now affecting the Romanian justice system.
Dutch Ambassador to Bucharest says "we should all refrain from comments" in case of Romania justice scandal ​Dutch Ambassador to Romania Matthijs van Bonzel made a statement on Thursday related to a scandal now affecting the Romanian justice system. Speaking of a decision by Romania's prosecutor general to dismiss a prosecutor who led investigations into a high profile politician - a move described by President Traian Basescu and others as an interference with the justice system, Ambassador van Bonzel said "we should all refrain from comments, a fortiori from interference in the policy of the Public Prosecution".
Romanian President Traian Basescu turns against cohabitation pact with prime minister Victor Ponta, accuses him of "brutal intervention" on Justice Romania's President Traian Basescu announced on Thursday he would no longer support prime minister Victor Ponta because of the head of government's "brutal intervention" into Justice affairs. Basescu said in an interview with B1 TV news channel on Thursday morning that today he would review the cohabitation pact he had with the prime minister following the victory in the 2012 general elections of the coalition led by Victor Ponta.
Influential Romanian businessman-politician Dan Voiculescu receives a first prison sentence in major corruption case. Appeal announced ​The founding leader of the Conservative Party, a small but influential part of the governing coalition in Romania, received on Thursday a 5-year sentence in a major corruption case involving the privatisation of an agricultural institute. Dan Voiculescu and several other people received sentences of 5-6 years in the case, which can be appealed. The sentence comes over 1,700 days since Dan Voiculescu - a veteran politician, businessman connected to the former Communist trade structures and secret police and with his family the owner of a major media group - was officially indicted in the case.
Digging for gold in Rosia Montana, Romania: Announced "closure" of mining project corners government with continuing protests and threats of legal action ​A Canadian company's plans to dig for gold in Rosia Montana, Romania, which has sparked disputes for a decade and a half, threatens to come to an abrupt end as a series of unprecedented protests have forced the Bucharest government to step back and announce the "closure" of the project. Still, the announced decision has yet to be made official by a vote in Parliament, which may come in the upcoming days or weeks. The protests, attended by many young people and in contrast with what Romanians are used to in terms of anti-government demonstrations over the past two decades, forced authorities to step back with their approval of the Rosia Montana Gold Corporation (RMGC) project on Monday. The Victor Ponta-led executive is now caught between the promise to drop support for gold mining in Rosia Montana, threats of legal action by the company that runs the project and protests by mining supporters.
Romanian minister Relu Fenechiu receives 5 year sentence in corruption case. PM Ponta says he would take over ministerial job until new minister is named Romania's Transport minister Relu Fenechiu, a member of the National Liberal Party, received a 5-year sentence in a corruption case on Friday. The sentence can be appealed. Fenechiu's brother, Lucian Fenechiu, also received a 5-year sentence in the same case. Relu Fenechiu has ben indicted under charges of abuse in office against public interest and complicity to abuse in office in a case dating in the early 2000's and related to public procurements in the region of Moldova, which benefited Fenechiu's companies.UPDATE PM Victor Ponta announced following the court verdict on Friday that minister Fenechiu informed him about his wish to withdraw as a member of the government. Ponta said he would take over as interim minister until a new one is named.


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