Romania’s Ruling Party Leader Faces New Corruption Investigation

The powerful leader of Romania’s Social Democrats is facing a new anti-corruption probe that could disrupt the ruling party as it pushes ahead with a controversial overhaul of the judiciary.

Liviu Dragnea, who already has a two-year suspended prison sentence for trying to rig a referendum and is under investigation in a separate case, is suspected of forming an organized crime group, giving false statements and abusing his official post, anti-corruption prosecutors said Monday in a statement. The allegations concern misuse of European Union funds during Dragnea’s 2000-2012 stint as head of the southern Teleorman county. Prosecutors said they worked with the European Anti-Fraud Office, or OLAF, on the case.

“It’s no surprise — I said from the start that this entire circus would have no meaning if I wasn’t called there,” Dragnea told a party event Sunday. “In my case they’re going to move straight to the second phase of the investigation. We’re not playing games.”

He declined to comment Monday as he left the prosecutors’ office. Several senior Social Democrat officials, including Deputy Premier Paul Stanescu, came to the prosecutors’ office to show their support for their party chief.

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