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Fraud Charges Hit Romanian Ruling Party Leader

Indictments against Liviu Dragnea and others come amid new anti-government protests, as the Romanian leu drops to a record low.

14 November 2017

Liviu Dragnea, the leader of the ruling Romanian Social Democrat Party (PSD), has been indicted for fraud, creating an organized criminal group, and misuse of office, according to a statement from the European Commission’s anti-fraud office, OLAF.  Romania’s anti-corruption police, the DNA, indicted eight other people on similar charges, after an investigation by OLAF.

 

Liviu Dragnea has been indicted for fraud in the latest blow against Romania's ruling Social Democrat Party. Image: Partidul Social Democrat via Wikimedia Commons

Dragnea denies the charges, which center on an alleged fraud involving European Union funds totaling 21 million euros. “I definitely do not feel guilty. I have never formed a criminal group,” Dragnea said, according to Politico, citing the Romanian news site HotNews.ro.

 

 

 

The opposition National Liberal Party and Save Romania Union (USR) called for Dragnea’s resignation as head of the lower house of parliament Monday after the charges came to light, according to SeeNews.

 

The allegations may further tarnish Dragnea’s record and could add to the mounting image problem of PSD, which has faced wave after wave of protests against cronyism, corruption, and, more recently, against a series of disputed new laws.

 

On Sunday, Romanians protested against controversial changes to the tax law and the judicial system for the second consecutive Sunday.

 

Workers say the proposal to shift social security contributions from employer to worker, along with lowering income tax from 16 to 10 percent will not increase their take-home pay as the government claims, according to SeeNews.

 

There was also bad news for consumers yesterday as the leu weakened to a record low against the euro, according to See News. 

 

 

  • Last winter, an estimated half million people came out in protest against a government decree easing penalties for official bribe-taking in what observers called the biggest protests since the 1989 revolution. The demonstrations contributed to the repeal of the decree, passed in a late-night government session on 31 January, which would have removed criminal penalties for abuse-of-power offences involving graft of less than 200,000 lei ($48,000).

 

  • A few months later, the ruling PSD used a vote of no confidence to remove the government headed by one of its own members. Many observers read these events as a power struggle between then-Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu and Dragnea.

 

  • PSD won the previous election in December last year, but Dragnea’s path to the premiership was barred by a conviction for vote-rigging in a 2012 referendum, which he contests.

Compiled by Kate Syme-Lamont

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