Romania: prosecutor, tax official detained on bribe charges

By The Associated Press | Posted - Sep. 1, 2015 at 7:41 a.m.

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BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Romanian anti-corruption prosecutors have detained a prosecutor and a senior tax official on suspicion they took bribes from a businessman to resolve a court case in his favor.

Prosecutors said Tuesday that Alina Bica, the former chief prosecutor for the agency investigating organized crime and terrorism, received a bribe of 17,500 euros ($19,800) in November 2014 from Serban Pop, the former head of the tax authority, who was acting on behalf of businessman Horia Simu.

Prosecutors say Simu paid Pop 230,000 euros ($260,000) in bribes during the course of 2014 to intervene on his behalf and stop a probe into a property restitution case against him.

Prosecutors said in exchange for the alleged bribe, Bica replaced a prosecutor who was investigating Simu and put pressure on another.

Simu was arrested last month, together with five former property restitution officials and two former lawmakers. They allegedly took part in a scheme where the state paid compensation for the restitution of 97,000 sq. meters (1 million sq. feet) of land. The plot was overvalued by about 70 million euros ($79 million).

Bica's lawyer called the case an abuse and said her client would not give statements to prosecutors. A court will rule Wednesday whether to arrest Bica and Pop.

Romania has stepped up its anti-corruption drive in recent months.

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