Romanian Deputy Prime Minister Charged With Abuse of Influence

Romania’s Deputy Prime Minister Liviu Dragnea was charged with abuse of influence during last year’s referendum for impeaching the president, the country’s anti-corruption prosecutors said.

Dragnea, one of the leaders of Prime Minister Victor Ponta’s ruling party, used his influence as head of Teleorman county in southern Romania to increase turnout in an attempt to validate a July 29, 2012 ballot for impeaching President Traian Basescu, the prosecutors said in a statement published on the National Anti-Corruption Directorate website today. Dragnea said the accusations are “absurd and groundless.”

The rivalry between Basescu and Ponta pushed the leu to record lows and prompted a surge in borrowing costs last year. Renewed political uncertainty in the run-up to elections next year may weigh on investor and consumer sentiment, the International Monetary Fund said last week.

“I’m as guilty as mister Dragnea of wanting to rid the country of Basescu,” Ponta said in a televised speech today, adding that he won’t oust Dragnea, who also said he wouldn’t resign.

The leu was little changed at 4.4278 per euro at 3:12 p.m. in Bucharest.

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