Powerful Romanian Politician Jailed on Graft Charges
On May 27, 2019 the Romanian High Court of Cassation and Justice (the Supreme Court of Romania) upheld the 3.5-year jail sentence originally issued by a lower court in June 2018 to prominent Romanian politician Liviu Dragnea (until recently, leader of the political party – Social Democratic Party) after his conviction for graft charges.
According to media, Dragnea was convicted of abusing his position as a government official by fraudulently maintaining two employees on the payroll of a state family welfare agency between 2006 and 2013 (some media lists the dates as 2008 to 2010). The individuals were reportedly employees of Dragnea’s political party and did not perform any public functions despite receiving salaries from a government agency.
In addition to Dragnea’s recent graft conviction, he has been the subject of negative media coverage regarding his alleged involvement in several scandals including a criminal scheme that embezzled c. Euro €20 million from public projects, electoral fraud (resulting in Dragnea being barred from running for Prime Minister), and attempts to undermine anti-corruption laws.
Liviu Dragnea has been described in media as one of the most powerful politicians in Romania. Until recently (May 27th), he served as President of the Chamber of Deputies of Romania (lower house of parliament). Dragnea had held the position since December 2016; he oversaw Chamber of Deputies meetings and was second in succession to the Romanian Presidency (first in succession is President of the Senate, the upper house of parliament). His career as a politician began in the late 1990s and included various ministerial positions (notably, Deputy Prime Minister of Romania from December 2012 to December 2014).
Although Liviu Dragnea was sentenced to jailtime, often individuals with powerful political connections or those who are extremely wealthy avoid legal charges and convictions despite being subject to derogatory media coverage. A lack of charges or convictions is no guarantee that a potential business partner isn’t involved in corruption. And, as Liviu Dragnea’s case shows, the fortunes of powerful individuals who have avoided justice can change. Smith Brandon International is experienced in reviewing a wide range of sources, including public records and media (both local and international), to identify potential risk factors vital for maintaining a healthy business.
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