Former Romanian Prime Minister Calin Popescu-Tariceanu has been formally charged with receiving a bribe worth 800,000 US dollars when he was premier.
The National Anticorruption Directorate said Monday in a statement that Mr Tariceanu was suspected of demanding and receiving “indirectly” material goods worth $800,000 from the representatives of an Austrian company from 2007 to 2008.
Last week, President Klaus Iohannis gave the green light to a criminal investigation into allegations of bribery leveled against the former prime minister.
Romanian law requires the head of state to approve all investigations against former cabinet members. Mr Iohannis won re-election in 2019 on an anti-corruption mandate.
He has denied all wrongdoing, and says the investigation is politically motivated by the president to discredit the opposition. Mr. Tariceanu lost his parliamentary seat in December 2020 elections.
Mr Tariceanu, who served as prime minister between 2004 and 2008 allegedly received the kickback disguised as political consultancy services funded by the unnamed Austrian company in exchange for his party passing legislation in its favor, prosecutors said.
He claims he didn’t receive “a penny” from Microsoft which he says is the company in question.
Prosecutors sought to investigate the former premier in the same case two years ago but lawmakers declined to lift his immunity. In a separate real estate corruption case in 2018, he was acquitted of giving false testimony.
However, the anti-corruption office said it had new evidence against him.
Romania is one of the most graft-ridden countries of the European Union although it has slightly improved in recent years. In 2019, anti-corruption watchdog said it was tied with Hungary as the second most corrupt members of the European Union after Bulgaria.
Romania’s judiciary has been under special monitoring by Brussels since it joined the bloc in 2007.