Ex-Romanian minister awaits extradition hearing in Bulgaria for bribery conviction

Foto: INQUAM/Octav Ganea

A Romanian former minister Elena Udrea on Friday was in custody in Bulgaria awaiting extradition after she was caught in Bulgaria fleeing a six-year jail term for corruption.

Bulgarian police stopped former Romanian Minister of Tourism and Development Elena Udrea from leaving the country for Greece and Romanian police issued a warrant in her name.

Romania’s high court upheld a  June 2018 six-year term for bribery, abuse of office and tax evasion over a boxing match.

The court ruled that she had demanded a 10% cut of several contracts the Tourism Ministry signed with private firms in exchange for the ministry making payments on time.

They said she paid a private firm controlled by former Romanian boxer Rudel Obreja nearly 2 million euros of ministry funds to organize a boxing gala on the pretext that she was paying for publicity for Romania.

The verdict ended a seven-year trial which the defendant dragged out by using a number of legal delaying tactics.

Ms Udrea, 48, fled Romania on Thursday before the court ruling. She was stopped on the Bulgarian border with Greece later in the day.

On Friday she was being held in  Petrici in Bulgaria under a 24-hour detention order which could be extended. She faces an extradition hearing.

Media reports said she learned of her verdict when she reached the Bulgarian capital, Sofia. She then headed south toward Greece to the Kulata border crossing.

Ms Udrea was one of Romania’s powerful politicians due to her close links to President Traian Basescu who was in office from 2004 to 2014.

She was minister of tourism and regional development from 2008 to 2012.


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