Fight against corruption: after the political elite, Romania takes on its last feudal lords

EPA/ROBERT GHEMENT

A Romanian shepherd takes care of his flock of sheep grazing on the pasture of Cincu village, 260 km north from Bucharest, Romania

Fight against corruption: after the political elite, Romania takes on its last feudal lords


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Romania’s agriculture oligarch, Ioan Niculae, is currently serving a two-and-half year prison sentence for illegal financing of Romania’s Social Democratic Party (PSD). For the first time, the famous DNA (national anti-corruption agency) is going after his assets, although it is clear there is still some way to go.

Nicolae remains Romania’s richest man with vast 50,000 hectares holdings of prime agricultural land, a fertilizer business’ Nicolae is also the proud owner of the Astra Giurgiu soccer club. Approximately € 2,5 worth of these land holdings were confiscated this week, according to local media. That is unlikely to make a big difference, as this deprives him of approximately 100 hectares of two farms, pastures, a hotel, and some real estate developments.

The long list of allegations against him, besides corruption, includes tax evasion and money laundering. In the latest round of his standoff with justice, he was convicted for bribing Gheorge Bunea Stancu in 2009, former chairman of the Braila County Council, who secured for him tax breaks and public subsidies for his fertilizer business. Stancu apparently used the money to run a lavish electoral campaign.

The current anti-corruption campaign in Romania is getting increasingly serious. Run by the now famous DNA anti-corruption agency, it is said that up to a third of Romania’s political elite is prosecuted or under investigation. Big money is also under tight scrutiny. Nonetheless, the Economist Romania is still 69th in the Transparency corruption index, without significant gains as yet.

 

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