Romania: Former President Suspected of Money Laundering

Published: 09 May 2016


Traian Basescu (Photo: European People's Party)

By Igor Spaic

Prosecutors Friday confirmed that Romania's former President, Traian Basescu, is being investigated for money laundering – information he himself had posted on his Facebook page on April 20.

Basescu is suspected of laundering money while concluding several contracts regarding the sale and purchase of property between 2000 and 2005.

According to Reuters, the former President, who stepped down as head of state after two five-year terms in 2014, declined to comment on the accusations.

Local news portals report that Basescu spent an hour at court on Friday, giving a statement in regard to an investigation into a real estate deal he made with a local businessman, Costel Casuneanu, in 2000. According to the local newspaper Romania Curata, Basescu, acting as Bucharest mayor at the time, had allegedly made controversial property deals with Casaneanu– a businessman who owns a construction company that won many public infrastructure contracts under Basescu. In 2000, Basescu allegedly purchased land in northern Bucharest, paying below the market price. He subsequently sold the land at market value - to Casuneanu’s sister-in-law.

Basescu had intended to run for Bucharest mayor in the upcoming local elections. In a release from his People's Movement Party from Friday, however, Basescu said he gave up on his candidacy as he received information about the investigation from prosecutors a day before the campaign was about to begin.

Basescu was elected President in 2004, after running on an anti-corruption platform.

In July 2014, however, Basescu's brother, Mircea Basescu, was indicted for influence peddling – prosecutors said he took a bribe in exchange for influencing magistrates to reduce the prison sentence of a crime boss. According to The Associated Press, Mircea Basescu was sentenced to four years in prison in January in a first instance ruling.