Romanian PM considers criminal probe ‘coup d’etat'

Prime Minister Victor Ponta refuses to resign over corruption probe

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta has called a corruption accusation and ongoing probe into his activities an attempted “coup d’etat” plot against the Romanian government in order to destabilise the country.

After a meeting with politicians from the ruling coalition on Sunday, Ponta said that "the goal of these accusations is to prompt a change of government, [which is] equivalent to a coup d'etat."

"I will prove my innocence and I am working to improve the justice system in order to prevent it from committing further abuses," he added.

"I have a duty to the 5.3 million Romanians who voted for me, only parliament can unseat me.”

At the beginning of June, Romania’s National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) started a criminal investigation into Ponta over allegations of money forgery, tax evasion, money laundry, and conflict of interest.

For further investigations, Ponta’s immunity has to be lifted by the Romanian parliament. DNA prosecutors announced that they have filed petitions calling for the abolishment of Ponta’s immunity.

On Monday Ponta is to meet with a legal committee which will determine whether the investigations concerning him will continue or not.

The DNA prosecutors added that if parliament would reject their request they will continue the investigation, although they would focus on Ponta’s activities as a lawyer.

On Saturday, Romanian citizens rallied in the streets of the country’s capital Bucharest demanding Ponta’s resignation over the DNA accusations.

Last week, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis asked Ponta’s to resign, saying his case has caused “an impossible situation for Romania."

Ponta rejected Iohannis’ demand, saying he would not resign from his post and that the criminal case was set up by his political enemies.

The DNA has accused Ponta of using fake documents from a law firm to buy apartments and a car when he worked as a lawmaker in the Social Democratic Party (PSD) between 2007 and 2008.

The investigators added that the law firm belongs to Ponta’s friend and former Infrastructure Projects of National Interest and Foreign Investment Minister Dan Sova, and Ponta received 40,000 euros from that firm although he did not work there.

Ponta’s questioning was part of a general DNA investigation which resulted in the arrests of several politicians, judges, prosecutors and media moguls including Elena Udrea, a former minister of tourism and former presidential candidate.

Ponta’s family members have also been investigated regarding the same allegations.

Centre-left Social Democratic Party (PSD) leader Victor Ponta has served as Romania’s prime minister since 2012.

Since its establishment in 2014, Romania’s anti-corruption agency DNA has investigated corruption and deficiency among politicians, government officials and the business community, including the country’s Finance Minister Darius Valcov, as well as senior judges, prosecutors and media tycoons.

Ponta’s friend and former minister Sova has also been investigated for corruption, especially regarding allegations that he used his post to find clients for his law firm between 2007 and 2009.

Last week, the DNA asked for the lifting of Sova’s immunity, however parliament did not approve the measure.

TRTWorld and agencies