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Prosecutors Indict Romanian PM on Corruption Charges

  • Associated Press

FILE - Romanian Prime Minister and candidate of the ruling Social Democracy Party (PSD), Victor Ponta, right, casts his ballot alongside his wife, Daciana Sarbu, in Bucharest, Romania, Nov. 2, 2014.

FILE - Romanian Prime Minister and candidate of the ruling Social Democracy Party (PSD), Victor Ponta, right, casts his ballot alongside his wife, Daciana Sarbu, in Bucharest, Romania, Nov. 2, 2014.

Romanian prosecutors on Thursday formally indicted Prime Minister Victor Ponta on corruption charges, including tax evasion and money-laundering, and said he will be tried by the country's top court.

Ponta will not be arrested, Livia Sapalcan, the spokeswoman for the anti-corruption prosecutors' office told The Associated Press.

The 42-year-old Ponta is the first sitting Romania prime minister to be indicted and have his assets seized. He denies wrongdoing and has refused to resign, saying he wants to remain prime minister until the December 2016 parliamentary election.

Four other people have also been indicted in the case and will stand trial.

There was no immediate comment Thursday from Ponta, who was attending a meeting of the country's top defense body to discuss Hungary's plan to build a fence along part of its border with Romania to deter migrants. Romania opposes the idea.

Prosecutors first named Ponta a suspect on June 5 and he was indicted in July on charges including tax evasion, money-laundering, conflict of interest and making false statements while he was working as a lawyer in 2007 and 2008. At the time, Ponta was a lawmaker.

Prosecutors say Ponta forged expense claims worth at least 181,000 lei ($45,000) from the law firm of political ally Dan Sova, who was also indicted Thursday. They say he pretended to work as a lawyer to justify getting money from the law firm. The funds were used to pay for two luxury apartments and the use of an SUV.

Prosecutors say after Ponta became prime minister in May 2012, he appointed Sova as a minister three times, which constituted a conflict of interest.

Ponta stepped down as head of the ruling Social Democratic Party on July 12.

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