Bucharest court acquits former Romanian PM in graft case

Victor Ponta was Prime Minister of Romania from 2012 to 2015. (Reuters pic)

BUCHAREST: A Bucharest court acquitted former Romanian prime minister Victor Ponta on Thursday of charges of forgery, money-laundering, and being an accessory to tax evasion.

Ponta, 45, is a former member of the ruling Social Democrat Party who served as premier from 2012 until 2015 when he resigned after a deadly night club fire triggered massive street protests.

Anti-corruption prosecutors can appeal the decision.

The case concerned Ponta’s time as a lawyer and prosecutors had accused him of colluding with Dan Sova, a former transport minister in his cabinet who was also acquitted in the trial.

Transparency International ranks Romania among the European Union’s most corrupt states and Brussels, which keeps its justice system under special monitoring, has praised magistrates for their efforts to curb graft.

Anti-corruption prosecutors have been cracking down on high-level graft in recent years, convicting people across parties at a steady rate of just under 90% in 2017 of those who stood trial.