News 03 Dec 12

Romanian Businessman Detained for Corruption

Nelu Iordache, a businessman, has been detained for 29 days in a case involving an alleged EU fund embezzlement.

Marian Chiriac
BIRN
Bucharest

Nelu Iordache, the owner of a low cost airline and of a construction company, has detained under suspicion of embezzling some 5.5 million euros from the EU funds supposed to be used for construction of a highway.

According to the government’s anti-corruption department, DNA, Iordache is also accused of money laundering and faking documents.

The Romanian company had entered into partnership with several Portuguese firms to conduct works on the highway in western Romania.

However, following some conflicts, the Portuguese companies reported their Romanian partner to several institutions, including the European Commission.

Iordache claimed he is innocent, while some political commentators suggest there the accusations could be politically motivated.

Nicknamed the King of Asphalt, Iordache is one of the richest Romanians, ranking 28th in the Forbes rich list, with an estimated wealth of some 150 million euro.

Romania is still considered one of the most corrupt states in the European Union and has made only limited progress in fighting graft and organised crime since it joined the EU in 2007.

It has drawn repeated criticism from the European Commission for its failure to tackle the problem.

But in recent months, the number of high-ranking officials sentenced for graft has increased significantly. Eleven top officials were sent to jail since 2010, including the former Prime Minister, Adrian Nastase, and some other ex-ministers.

Twenty-six mayors and prefects, 24 magistrates and 164 policemen have also been sent to jail, official figures show.

By comparison, no member of government or lawmaker was convicted of corruption between 2002 and 2009.

 

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