EU suspends $1.1 billion in funding for Romanian projects

EU suspends $1.1 billion in funding for Romanian projects


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BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — The European Union has suspended 1 billion euros ($1.13 billion) in funding for Romanian projects because of allegations of corruption and irregularities, Prime Minister Victor Ponta said Thursday.

Ponta said there was "a huge problem" of complaints which are automatically investigated by OLAF, the body that investigates EU budget fraud.

During a meeting with foreign news agencies, Ponta said that "if there is a suspicion about the case, it is stopped ... and we can't ask for money from the EU."

If there is no ruling on cases by Dec. 31, projects will be funded, he said. The allegations referred to human resources projects, water supply and 400 million euros ($452 million) for subway projects.

Romania has recently launched a crackdown into high-level corruption.

Responding to criticism that that Romania had recovered only a small percentage of the 310 million euros that courts had ordered confiscated in corruption cases last year, Ponta vowed to improve performance through the creation of a new agency.

"We hope to achieve a more successful average, such as 45 percent like they have in France," he said.

"I've never found a country which is recuperating 100 percent."

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