Former Minister of Tourism Elena Udrea was spared arrest on Wednesday after the Romanian parliament voted against lifting her parliamentary immunity. The Romanian anti-corruption agency, the DNA, had asked for Udrea’s arrest after bringing additional charges of corruption against her. Arrested and detained for almost two months earlier this year on money laundering charges, Udrea has now also been accused of taking a €3.8 million bribe in exchange for helping to facilitate the awarding of energy contracts to associates of her former husband, Dorin Cocos, himself currently under investigation for all sorts of mafia-like behaviour. Udrea – who despite Wednesday’s vote can still be held by investigators and questioned for up to 24 hours at a time – has this time promised to sing like a canary. ‘There are things I can’t wait to tell the investigators,’ she said on Tuesday.
In other ‘corrupt politican not in prison’ news, the suspended mayor of Bucharest Sorin Oprescu was this week released from police custody to house arrest.
Interior and vice-prime minister Gabriel Oprea stubbornly refused to resign in the wake of last week’s tragic incident in which one of his motorcycle outriders was killed while on duty. President Klaus Iohannis has ‘advised’ Oprea to resign, while the opposition PNL have called on parliament to dismiss Oprea in a confidence vote which will probably be held next week. Sources at TV station Digi24 reported that Oprea has this year so far managed more than 1500 ‘urgent missions’, an average of more than five per day. Meantime, the government of Victor Ponta issued an emergency ordinance extending the number of public figures entitled to police escorts.
An amendment to the fiscal code will reduce to just one per cent the tax rate paid by most Romanian small and medium-sized companies (including – disclosure klaxon – Bucharest Life’s) from April next year. The tax, which is paid on turnover, not profit, had been at three per cent for some time.
Romania’s female gymnasts finished just 13th in qualifying at the World Championships in Glasgow, Scotland. It was the first time in history that Romania’s girls have placed outside the top eight teams, failing to qualify for the final. Their presence at next year’s Olympics in Rio, Brazil, is now in doubt: Romania needs to enter an Olympic qualifying event next April with all of the other teams that finished outside the top eight in Glasgow (the top four of those will go to the games). Just one Romanian, Larisa Iordache, performed well enough to qualify for the individual all-around final. She finished third, and took a bronze medal. Some consolation at least.