BUCHAREST (Reuters) - Romanian Prime Minister Mihai Tudose said on Monday that corruption allegations surrounding three ministers had created problems for the country and his Social Democrat government, adding he was considering a Cabinet reshuffle.
Transparency International ranks Romania among the European Union’s most corrupt states and Brussels is keeping its justice system under special monitoring.
“There are three ministers with problems who are indeed causing difficulties in terms of public perception and in some situations with the European Commission,” Tudose told private television station Antena3. He said he was considering asking the ministers to resign in a “mini-reshuffle.”
“I will make the announcement this week, first to the party, obviously. I will take responsibility for my proposals and I will ask the (ruling) coalition’s vote on them.”
Anti-corruption prosecutors said in September they were investigating Deputy Prime Minister Sevil Shhaideh for suspected abuse of office in a land transfer case, and have asked parliament to approve an investigation into European Funds Minister Rovana Plumb linked to the same case.
Shhaideh, also a minister for regional development, is a close ally of Social Democrat Party leader Liviu Dragnea, who has received a suspended sentence for vote rigging and is on trial in a separate abuse-of-office case.
Prosecutors also asked parliament to approve an investigation into Viorel Ilie, minister in charge of the relationship between the Cabinet and lawmakers, in a case involving allegations of rigging a job contest for clerks at his ministry. Parliament rejected the request earlier this month.
Under Romanian legislation, parliament must approve investigations against sitting lawmakers. All three ministers have denied wrongdoing.
Tudose also said his relationship with Dragnea was not in a “happy moment”. Dragnea holds a tight grip over the party and earlier this year pushed out former Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu in a non-confidence vote.
At the start of the year, government attempts to weaken the crackdown on high-level graft triggered Romania’s largest street protests in decades.
Reporting by Luiza Ilie; Editing by Peter Cooney