A Romanian court on Thursday handed a five year prison sentence to a former parliament speaker on charges that he demanded a bribe of 1 million euros to influence the government over a key appointment.
The Bucharest Court of Appeal also ordered Bogdan Olteanu, who is 49 on Thursday, to pay back the 1 million euros. The ruling is final..
A lower court sentenced him to seven years in Dec. 2019. Prosecutors called for the maximum 10-year sentence for influence peddling.
The court said Olteanu, a senior member of the ruling Liberal Party at the time, had requested and received the money from media mogul Sorin Ovidiu Vantu between July and November 2008.
The kickback was payment in exchange for the government appointing Liviu Mihaiu, a journalist, who worked for one of the mogul’s companies as administrator of the Danube Delta national park.
Mr. Mihaiu was appointed in September 2008 and held the post for five months. He is not charged in the case and says he didn’t know about the bribe.
Mr. Olteanu was speaker of the Chamber of Deputies from March 2006 to December 2008.
According to anti-corruption prosecutors, the money was transferred from an account in Cyprus to the Bulgarian account of a company registered in the U.S and withdrawn in cash on three consecutive days.
The money was later sent to his office at the Liberal Party headquarters, at the mogul’s request. Mr. Vantu also provided free services to the politician to help him with his electoral campaign in 2008, when he ran for a seat in the Parliament.
Mr. Olteanu was then appointed deputy governor of the central bank but resigned in 2016 after he was arrested and charged with taking the bribe.
Mr. Vantu, who is serving a prison sentence for another case, has admitted paying the bribe.
Romania and Hungary are tied as the second most corrupt members of the European Union after Bulgaria according to Transparency International monitoring,
Brussels keeps its justice system under special monitoring.
Prosecutors have investigated and secured convictions against thousands of lawmakers, ministers, businessmen and senior officials