Wednesday 26 October 2016

Romania PM's aide probed in frying pans-for-votes bribery scandal

Radu Marinas

Published 24/06/2015 | 17:12

Sebastian Ghita, a close aide to Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta
Sebastian Ghita, a close aide to Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta

A close ally of Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta has been accused to trying to bribe voters with frying pans.

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Romanian prosecutors have launched a criminal inquiry into allegations that Sebastian Ghita, a lawmaker from Romania's ruling coalition, illegally raised money to buy frying pans from the black market to offer to "important voters" in 2012 when he was running for a seat in parliament.

He also faces investigation for trying to bribe Moldovans living in Romana to backing Mr Ponta's failed presidential bid last November.

Prosecutors say he paid some €350,000 to citizens of Moldova who have Romanian citizenship.

Many in the ex-Soviet republic of Moldova obtained Romanian citizenship in the past two decades, thereby winning the right to vote in Romanian elections and to travel freely in the European Union, of which it is not a member.

Mr Ghita has denied any wrongdoing and has accused the prosecutors of abusing their authority.

Prime Minister Ponta himself is under investigation in a separate criminal probe for alleged forgery, money laundering and tax evasion.


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