Romania’s former Finance Minister Darius Valcov stands accused of corruption and bribery in an ongoing crackdown, Reuters reports.
Investigators alleged that the politician accepted bribes during his time as mayor of the southwestern town of Slatina after discovering gold bars, three paintings, including a work by the French Impressionist Pierre-Auguste Renoir and $410,000 in cash in a safe.
According to AFP, Valcov was taken into custody on corruption charges last Wednesday. Investigators seized another 101 paintings last week, including three Picassos as well as works by Andy Warhol and Romanian artists.
Prosecutors opened an investigation into Valcov’s business dealings at the start of March after evidence emerged that suggested he may have accepted €2 million (2.18 million) in bribes to grant a public works contract to a local firm whilst serving as mayor.
In a statement prosecutors announced “Beginning with 2011 and until the present, Valcov conducted financial operations or business deals incompatible with his post as mayor, senator and minister … concerning land registry, accounting and law firms which he owns and manages through third parties.”
Although Valcov resigned as finance minister only days after news of the investigation was made public he strongly denies any wrongdoing. “I can only say I am innocent and will try to prove my innocence until the very end,” Valcov told Reuters.
Romania is considered to be one of the most corrupt governments in the European Union, although it has been praised for stepping up its efforts to crack down on corruption in recent years.
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