Wednesday 21 February 2018

Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta to stand trial on corruption charges

Romania's prime minister Victor Ponta is due to stand trial
Romania's prime minister Victor Ponta is due to stand trial

Romania's prime minister has been charged with corruption and will stand trial.

Victor Ponta was formally indicted on Thursday, according to a spokeswoman for the anti-corruption prosecutors' office.

The case will now be handled by the country's top court.

Ponta will not be arrested, spokeswoman Livia Sapalcan told The Associated Press.

Prosecutors first indicted Ponta in July on charges including tax evasion, money-laundering, conflict of interest and making false statements while he was working as a lawyer in 2007 and 2008. He denies wrongdoing.

He is the first sitting Romanian prime minister to be indicted and have his assets seized.

Four other people are also indicted and will stand trial in the same case.

The 42-year-old has refused to resign, saying he wants to remain prime minister until the December 2016 parliamentary election.

Romania's President Klaus Iohannis said the development was "more and more problematic" for Ponta and the government, and was harming Romania's international image.

Prosecutors say Ponta forged expense claims from the law firm of political ally Dan Sova, who has also been indicted. They say he pretended to work as a lawyer to justify getting money from the law firm. The funds were used to pay for two luxury apartments and the use of a motor vehicle.

Prosecutors say after Ponta became prime minister in May 2012, he appointed Sova as a minister three times, which constituted a conflict of interest.

Ponta stepped down as head of the ruling Social Democratic Party on July 12.

Press Association

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