BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Romania's chief anti-corruption prosecutor said Tuesday that a bribe probe against the influential mayor of Bucharest began months ago.
Prosecutors stopped mayor Sorin Oprescu late Saturday in traffic and detained him on bribe allegations which first emerged in March, chief anti-corruption prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi said Tuesday.
Oprescu was later arrested on suspicion that he took bribes of 25,000 euros ($28,000) from firms working for city hall. He is the most senior politician to be arrested on corruption charges this year.
The anti-corruption prosecutors' office said that the firms paid bribes to high-ranking city hall officials from their profits. About 10 percent allegedly went directly to Oprescu.
Oprescu denies he ever solicited bribes and has refused to resign. His lawyer Alexandru Chiciu told The Associated Press that Oprescu suffers from diabetes and was getting "adequate" treatment since he's been in custody.
Five others have been arrested in the same case on charges of bribery and money laundering for restorations carried out on a palace near Bucharest. The five include Oprescu's former driver and city hall's economic director.
The 63-year-old Oprescu, who used to be a surgeon, has been Bucharest mayor since 2008.
This story has been corrected to show that five people were arrested in same bribery case as Bucharest mayor, not four.