May 10, 2018 / 5:26 PM / in a year

Bucharest court acquits former Romanian PM in graft case

FILE PHOTO - Victor Ponta looks at a monitor during a government meeting, after announcing his resignation, in Bucharest, Romania November 4, 2015. REUTERS/Inquam Photos/Octav Ganea

BUCHAREST (Reuters) - A Bucharest court acquitted former Romanian prime minister Victor Ponta on Thursday of charges of forgery, money-laundering and being an accessory to tax evasion.

Ponta, 45, is a former member of the ruling Social Democrat Party who served as premier from 2012 until 2015 when he resigned after a deadly night club fire triggered massive street protests.

Anti-corruption prosecutors can appeal the decision.

The case concerned Ponta’s time as a lawyer and prosecutors had accused him of colluding with Dan Sova, a former transport minister in his cabinet who was also acquitted in the trial.

Transparency International ranks Romania among the European Union’s most corrupt states and Brussels, which keeps its justice system under special monitoring, has praised magistrates for their efforts to curb graft.

Anti-corruption prosecutors have been cracking down on high-level graft in recent years, convicting people across parties at a steady rate of just under 90 percent in 2017 of those who stood trial.

Reporting by Luiza Ilie; Editing by Toby Chopra

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