Romanian PM Ponta charged with corruption

Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta

Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta has been charged in a wide-ranging corruption investigation.

Prosecutors say Mr Ponta has been indicted on charges of tax evasion, money laundering and making false statements while he was working as a lawyer in 2007 and 2008.

His personal assets have also been temporarily frozen.

Mr Ponta, who is the first sitting Romania prime minister to be indicted and have his assets seized, denies any wrongdoing.

On June 5, prosecutors identified Mr Ponta as a suspect.

Mr Ponta, 42, has immunity for some of the charges, but not those of tax evasion and money laundering.

The corruption investigation has thrown Romania into a political crisis. President Klaus Iohannis urged Mr Ponta to resign, but the prime minister refused. Mr Ponta said he has not spoken with the president since June 5.

The situation has also caused tensions within Mr Ponta’s party, the biggest in Romania.

Mr Ponta resigned as chairman of the ruling Social Democratic Party on Sunday, saying he wanted to prove his innocence.

Close ally Liviu Dragnea has called that move a “mistake”, urging him not to quit as prime minister, a position he has held since May 2012.

Mr Ponta survived a vote to lift his immunity and a no-confidence vote in June. He then went to Istanbul for his knee operation on June 15 and stayed for more than three weeks. He resumed his duties as prime minister on July 9.

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