May 6, 2016 / 3:15 PM / in 3 years

Romanian ex-president being investigated on suspicion of money laundering

Romania's former President Traian Basescu gestures to the media during a farewell ceremony at Cotroceni presidential palace in Bucharest December 21, 2014. REUTERS/Bogdan Cristel

BUCHAREST (Reuters) - Romanian prosecutors are investigating former president Traian Basescu on allegations of money laundering, a statement said on Friday.

Sources had said in April that the case was being investigated but the statement is the first official confirmation. Basescu held office between 2004 and 2014.

Prosecutors from the Supreme Court said he was suspected of money laundering between October 2000 and May 2005 by “conducting successive contracts to sell and purchase property”.

Basescu, who appeared in court earlier in the day, declined to comment. The outspoken former sea captain lost his immunity from prosecution after stepping down as head of state after two terms.

It was unclear whether the investigation, the first phase of the procedure, will lead to a trial.

Romania is perceived as one of 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.

Reporting by Luiza Ilie; Editing by Alison Williams

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