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Romanian anti-corruption official suspected of fraud

March 16, 2015

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Romanian prosecutors have detained an anti-corruption official on suspicion he inflated property prices, costing the state 75 million euros ($82 million).

Prosecutors questioned and detained Horia Georgescu Monday on suspicion that in 2008-2009 he overvalued property being restituted to former owners who lost it when the communists nationalized real estate. He denies wrongdoing.

Georgescu was previously on the board of a state institute tasked with restituting property. He now heads the National Integrity Agency, which checks the assets of public officials and rules on conflict of interest and compatibility issues.

Later Monday, the flamboyant mayor of the Black Sea port of Constanta Radu Mazare was detained on suspicion of taking bribes worth 9 million euros ($9.9) conflict of interest and abusing his position.

Prosecutors say Mazare, a member of the ruling Social Democracy Party, asked for and received 2 million euros ($2.1 million) from two companies in exchange for handing out permits from 2006 to 2009. A statement said Mazare received 7 million euros ($7.1 million) in bribes from another businessman from 2008 to 2014 in exchange for letting him win contracts to refurbish the city. Mazare, who once dressed as a World War II German army uniform with a swastika, said he was “prepared for anything.”

Prosecutors have launched a series of high-level corruption investigations in the past year. Finance Minister Darius Valcov resigned Sunday after prosecutors charged him with taking 2 million euros in bribes when he was a mayor. He denies wrongdoing.

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