Former Romanian prime minister sentenced to probation for blackmail

Story highlights

  • Former Romanian Prime Minister Adrian Nastase is found guilty of blackmail
  • Both he and his wife, who was convicted on a separate charge, are put on probation
  • Nastase has said the trial was ordered by his political rival, President Traian Basescu
  • Nastase was convicted in January on separate corruption charges
Former Romanian Prime Minister Adrian Nastase was placed on three years of probation Friday in a corruption case that had been under investigation for more than six years.
Romania's Supreme Court found Nastase guilty of committing blackmail while he was prime minister, from 2000 to 2004. He also had been accused of bribery, but the court found him innocent on that charge.
Nastase had denied all the charges in the case and said the trial was a political one, ordered by Romania's current president, Traian Basescu, who defeated Nastase when the two ran for president in 2004.
Nastase's lawyer, Ion Cazacu, said he might appeal the decision.
Nastase's wife also was placed on three years of probation for using false documents. She was found innocent on other charges, including bribery.
The trial of Nastase and his wife started in 2010 after Romania's Anti-corruption Agency accused them of bribery and blackmail.
Another main figure in the case was Irina Jianu, former head of a state construction agency, who was found innocent on charges of money laundry and bribery. However, the court found her guilty of using false documents, and she was sentenced to three years in prison.
During the trial, the Anti-corruption Agency stated that Nastase received directly or through his wife €630,000 ($840,000) from Jianu while he was a prime minister. In return, the agency said, Nastase named Jianu as head of the construction agency.
According to the prosecutors, the money was used by Nastase to buy objects and goods from China and to cover the cost of some work done at two of his houses, in Bucharest and Cornu. The Supreme Court found Nastase and his wife innocent regarding these accusations.
The anti-corruption agency also said Nastase sent almost €90,000 ($120,000) to Ioan Paun, who was then a Romanian consul-general in China. The agency said the money was meant to be used in China for the purchase of various goods and objects for the Nastase family.
This was the second conviction for Nastase this year. In January, he was sentenced to two years of prison in what was known as the Quality Trophy corruption case. He has appealed that decision.
In that case, the Romanian Supreme Court found Nastase guilty of illegally raising €1.6 million ($2.1 million) during his 2004 campaign for president as the candidate of the Social Democrat Party.
Nastase was also involved in another case, known as the Aunt Tamara case, in which he was accused of paying a $400,000 bribe to the former head of the country's anti-money-laundering agency to delete some documents related to his wife's bank account. Nastase was found innocent in that case.
Nastase was the first former prime minister and the highest official to get a jail sentence in Romania since the fall of communism.
The European Union has repeatedly called on Romania to put more effort into tackling corruption by top-level officials and politicians.