Romania’s President Klaus Iohannis has formally requested a probe of a former environment minister whom prosecutors want to investigate on suspicion of taking a bribe in exchange for granting carbon credits to a plant.
Mr Iohannis wrote to Justice Minister Stelian Ion on Tuesday asking him to set in motion a criminal investigation against Costel Alexe, who was environment minister from Nov. 2019 to Nov. 2020.
The Anti-Corruption Prosecutors office wants to probe Mr Alexe who is suspected of receiving 22 tons of metal products in bribes as minister in exchange for giving carbon credits to a plant and also for approving measures taken by the factory to shut down a warehouse of non-compliant landfills, according to a statement on Monday.
Costel Alexe has denied wrongdoing.
He said he was “surprised” by the allegations against him. He said he wanted the inquiry to proceed “to we can find the truth out quickly.”
As Mr. Alexe is a former minister, and currently holds a senior public position, he will be tried by the High Court of Cassation and Justice. He is currently the chairman of of the Iasi County Council for the ruling Liberal Party.
Prosecutors said he is alleged to have received 22 tons of sheet metal worth about 103,000 lei or 21,000 euros between April 23 and July 7, 2020, at the offices of a private company managed by one of the the minister’s relatives.
The case is an embarrassment for the Liberal Party which heads the center-right ruling coalition which came to power after December parliamentary elections promising to crack down on corruption.
The opposition Social Democratic Party have called for him to resign the position that he was appointed in November 2020.
Prosecutors office said it had been informed of the president’s request.
Mr Alexe said: „In my whole public life, I have never illegally benefited from unlawful gains .”