Romania’s ex-Economy minister Codrut Seres faced Supreme Court prosecutors on Thursday to be informed that a criminal inquiry has been launched against him in a new case related to obscure deals that have affected the Romanian energy system for years.

He is blamed of plotting with several other people in delivering a 500 million euro blow to Romanian energy company Hidroelectrica by signing preferential contracts with certain economic agents. He is also charged with undermining the national economy in the same case.

A senator for the Conservative Party, Seres rejected all the new charges on Wednesday and defended his innocence.

His hearing comes after two other people were placed under official charges in the same case - Hidroelectrica general manager Traian Oprea and the head of the National Authority for Energy Regulation, Nicolae Opris - yesterday.

Seres is also facing charges of treason and leaking secret information in a separate case related to the privatization of Romanian energy companies. That charges were brought against him on December 21, 2006.