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Romania Development minister and key leader of governing Social Democrats Liviu Dragnea resigns following suspended prison sentence in referendum fraud case Romania's Development and Administration minister Liviu Dragnea, who on Friday received a suspended prison sentence of 1 year over fraud in the 2012 referendum to dismiss ex-President Traian Basescu, announced at noon today that he submitted his resignation from the Victor Ponta Government despite he considered himself not guilty. Dragnea claimed the sentence set a dangerous precedent that might threaten democracy, while PM Ponta supported him in stating he was not content with the decision. How can one campaign without urging people to vote? asked Ponta, despite Dragnea being sentenced for using his political influence to acquire the necessary referendum turnout threshold by illegal means.
Top Romanian minister Liviu Dragnea receives suspended prison sentence of 1 year for fraud in 2012 referendum to dismiss ex-president Basescu One of the most prominent members of the Romanian Government led by Victor Ponta, Development and Administration minister Liviu Dragnea, received a suspended prison sentence of one year on Friday in a case in which he is accused of fraud in a 2012 referendum to dismiss then-president Traian Basescu. The sentence can be appealed both by Dragnea and prosecutors.
​VIDEO/PHOTO "The Cavalry March" - the passing of US armoured vehicles and helicopters through Romanian villages and sunny thristle fields of Baragan "They're waving as if they've been waiting for the Americans their whole life", says a partially serious fellow reporter. From up on top of a Stryker armoured vehicle, one of the many in a miles-long convoy of US war machines, it comes easy to capture on camera the smiles and hails of people on the road side. Rarely would one see such a show of force - in Romania, it may only be the national day of December 1 when some bigger display of power is on display. Over 500 US troops, 80 combat vehicles - mostly Stryker transporters - accompanied by two Apache helicopters - crossed the distance between Mihail Kogalniceanu base in SE Romania all the way to Ploiesti on Wednesday and are due to move on to Brasov and the Cincu base in central Romania on Thursday, for one of the largest multinational NATO exercises this year.
Group of Romanian deputies facing legal problems attempt abusive change of Criminal Procedure Code to counter major anti-graft offensive Ten Romanian deputies, most of whom belong to PM Victor Ponta's Social Democratic Party, have submitted a bill to change the Criminal Procedure Code in such a way that prosecutors currently involved in a major push against corruption would be left without key legal tools of investigation and even risk prison sentences, as legal experts have explained to HotNews.ro. Half of the initiators are themselves facing criminal investigations and indictments, including PM Ponta's own godson. And one of them has already received a sentence for conflict of interests.
Romania president makes debatable nominations of ambassadors to US, Germany​ ​Romania President Klaus Iohannis has made a series of controversial nominations for key embassies abroad, including Berlin and Washington D.C.. He nominated George Maior, who recently left the helm of the Romanian Intelligence Service after eight years in office, as Ambassador to the United States. And he also nominated Emil Hurezeanu, a veteran journalist of German citizenship who has just received a Romanian one back, as Ambassador to Germany.
Russia Ambassador to Romania attacks opinion website and newspaper, calls authors "boors". Contributors.ro website, authors react ​An opinion article published by Romanian opinion and debate website Contributors.ro, called "The fascist lure of Comrade Putin", which was re-published by newspaper Romania libera, has sparked a harsh reaction from Russia Ambassador to Bucharest Oleg Malginov. In a press release published on the embassy website, Olginov claimed that "any boor having a say in the pages of central [Romanian] newspapers is not necessary at all". He also said that he was "surprised and disappointed" to read the article and that once he did so "the informative portal Contributors.ro and Romania libera newspapers have ceased to exist for me as media outlets worthy of respect".
Sources: ​Three paintings signed "Picasso" allegedly hidden along dozens of others, found by prosecutors in graft inquiry against former Romanian Finance minister Darius Valcov Former Romanian Finance minister Darius Valcov, who is subject of a major corruption inquiry, is said to have hidden over 90 paintings, including three by Picasso, according to judicial sources quoted by one local news agency and one TV channel on Thursday. The allegations appear days after prosecutors said a stash of US dollars, bars of gold and paintings including one signed "Renoir", all appearing to belong to Valcov, had been found in a safe box away from his home. Valcov, who served as Finance minister until very recently, was placed under house arrest on Thursday.
Romanian MPs once more save fellow senator from arrest on graft charges, but leave minister at prosecutors' hands Romanian MPs let fellow senator Dan Sova, a former minister, dodge arrest under graft charges on Wednesday, while approving a prosecutor's demand that they approve the arrest of another top politician, Darius Valcov, who recently resigned as Finance minister as he has been investigated for bribe taking and other abuses when he served as mayor of Slatina city a few years ago.UPDATE 1 President Klaus Iohannis said with its decision in Sova's case the Parliament blocked a request of the judiciary once again. The US and UK embassies also spoke out that nobody should be above the law and that the parliamentary immunity should not be used abusivelyUPDATE 2 Ex-minister Valcov was retained by anti-graft prosecutors in the late afternoon on Wednesday
Head of key Romanian anti-graft body Horia Georgescu retained in corruption probe Prosecutors from Romania's National Anti-corruption Department (DNA) retained the head of the National Integrity Agency (ANI), another major anti-corruption body, after lengthy hearings on Monday. Judiciary sources told HotNews.ro that ANI head Horia Georgescu is suspected of abuse in office before his term at the helm of the Agency, which is key in keeping the wealth of Romanian public officials under scrutiny.
Romanian Finance minister Darius Valcov accused of taking EUR 2 mln. bribe when he served as mayor Romanian anti-graft prosecutors have launched a criminal inquiry against Romanian Finance minister Darius Valcov under charges of traffic of influence, while he is suspected of having taking bribes to favor a businessman. National Anti-corruption Department prosecutors accuse him of having received some EUR 2 million when he served as mayor of Slatina city in 2010-2013.
Commissioner Corina Cretu uses Parable of Talents to prompt Romania use financial instruments in support of SMEs ​European Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Cretu used Biblical teachings in a conference in Bucharest on Thursday to push the Romanian Government into giving proper attention to and accepting the importance of European financial instruments to support SMEs. He warned Romanian minister for European Funds Eugen Teodorovici that, in the words of Matthew, "from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away". For his part, Teodorovici said that his government was working to create a state-controlled development bank to offer its own financial instruments to SMEs and other beneficiaries, in order to access European funds.
Romania says it regrets blunder after Foreign minister gave German counterpart a brochure with German flag printed on France map. Gift initiative belonged to local news agency ​German Foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier received a curious gift from his Romanian counterpart Bogdan Aurescu during his trip to Bucharest on Monday: a brochure on which the flags of Romania and Germany stood side by side - but while the Romanian flag was printed on a map of Romania, that of Germany was printed on a map of... France. The Romanian minister felt compelled to send the deepest regrets for the blunder personally to Steinmeier, who played down the incident.
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW German Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier: Germany ready to contribute to creation of a NATO command center in Romania / Plus: sanctions and Ukraine, interests of German companies German Foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has given an exclusive interview with HotNews.ro one day before his visit to Bucharest today, which comes just weeks after Romanian President Iohannis visited Berlin. Steinmeier says an important issue he would discuss with top Romanian officials will be to identify joint initiatives for stronger cooperation between the two countries. He said Germany was ready to take part in the creation of units to integrate NATO forces and of a multinational command center in Romania. Regarding German companies active in Romania, he said the extension of infrastructure, better legal safety and fair public tenders would be advantages for Romania in attracting German investments. He also spoke of the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine, saying it was wrong to believe that sanctions or weaponry deliveries would be a remedy in the Ukrainian conflict.
​OPINION The major issues with President Iohannis' nomination of politician Eduard Hellvig as head of Romanian Intelligence Service Information obtained by HotNews.ro shows with little doubt that Romania's new President Klaus Iohannis has not consulted with the US partners of the country before making one of his most important moves at the start of his term: the nomination of a new head at the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) this week. The Americans were abruptly informed just prior to the official announcement that Iohannis' nominee for SRI director would be politician Eduard Hellvig, as confirmed by both domestic and foreign sources. So what he did not consult with the US - isn't Romania an independent, sovereign country? Why should the US or any other partner give their blessing before hand? Well, this is not about a foreign veto, but about a basic gesture of courtesy to the strategic partners of Romania.
President Iohannis proposes Liberal politician, supporter of US-Germany-Romania security axis, to head Romanian Intelligence Service Romanian President Klaus Iohannis announced on Thursday that he proposed Liberal politician Eduard Hellvig for heading the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI), saying he was "the warranty for a European road of SRI". The seat of director at Romania's top intelligence service was left vacant after the previous director, George Maior, resigned in late January. Eduard Hellvig has been serving as a member of the European Parliament after he served as a minister in the Victor Ponta-led coalition government. He is a proponent of a stronger security collaboration with Germany than with Britain.
Anti-graft prosecutors investigate case involving business owned by Romanian PM Victor Ponta's family. Ponta's crony Sebastian Ghita summoned as "suspect" Romanian anti-corruption prosecutors on Tuesday launched raids at 14 addresses in the cities of Bucharest and Ploiesti in a criminal case linked to suspected acts of corruption and EU fund fraud, the anti-graft body DNA has announced. According to judicial sources, targeted firms include a company established by the mother of Romanian PM Victor Ponta, which is now partially owned by Alexandra Hertanu, Ponta's sister. Also on Tuesday, Ponta's brother-in-law Iulian Hertanu, prominent politician and businessman Sebastian Ghita - one of Ponta's cronies - showed up for testimonies at DNA Ploiesti.
Romania anti-graft prosecutors call for preventive arrest of former Romanian minister, presidential candidate Elena Udrea in multiple corruption cases Romania's National Anti-corruption Department (DNA) requested approval on Wednesday afternoon for the preventive arrest of Elena Udrea, a prominent politician best known for her serving as Development and Tourism minister in 2009-2012 and for running in the 2014 presidential election, when she was supported by then-president Traian Basescu. DNA requested approval for her arrest in a case in which she is accused of bribe taking in the organisation of a sports event when she served as minister. Shortly after the announcement, DNA requested another approval to arrest Udrea in two separate cases, charging her with bribe taking and traffic of influence.
Top Romanian media owner and former CEO of Central European Media Enterprises Adrian Sarbu retained under tax evasion, money laundering-related charges One of Romania's most powerful media owners, Adrian Sarbu, best known for his several years at the helm of listed international company Central European Media Enterprises, was retained for 24 hours on Monday under charges of abetting tax evasion, money laundering and embezzlement. The charges are related to a major tax evasion case involving the Romanian company he owns, Mediafax Group. Sarbu rejects the charges, claiming the case was fabricated against him by prime minister Victor Ponta and Ponta's crony Sebastian Ghita, an influential and controversial politician and businessman.
Former Romanian minister, presidential candidate Elena Udrea denounces interim head of intelligence service, speaks of links between services, shady business, politics and media Elena Udrea, a prominent politician who used to serve as Development minister years ago and ran unsuccessfully for presidency in 2014, shocked Romanian politics on Friday with an interview for HotNews.ro in which she made a series of allegations linking the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) with politicians, influential businessmen accused of corruption and controversial media owners. She came forward with the statements a day after she was placed under criminal inquiry under charges of money laundering and false wealth statements.
Former Economy minister Adriean Videanu retained by Romania anti-graft prosecutors Former Economy minister Adriean Videanu on Thursday was retained by Romania anti-graft prosecutors under charges of complicity to abuse in office, according to judicial sources quoted by news agency Agerpres. He left the National Anti-corruption Department (DNA) in handcuffs late on Thursday.

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