Anti-graft authorities in Romania have pledged to investigate whether Prime Minister Victor Ponta laundered money, evaded taxes and made false statements while in office. On Friday, they opened a formal case against him.
Shortly after Ponta (pictured above) was spotted entering the anti-corruption prosecutor's office on Friday, the premier confirmed to the press that he was suspected of a litany of corruption charges but struck a chord of defiance when he said he would not resign.
Meanwhile, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis implored Ponta to step down, saying allegations of forgery, money laundering, conflict of interest and being an accomplice to tax evasion amounted to "an impossible situation for Romania."
Authorities' success hinges on Ponta first being stripped of his immunity - something only parliament can do. Prosecutors have filed a formal request with lawmakers to prosecute Ponta.
The announcement that the anti-graft advocates would be going after the country's most powerful politician was the latest development in a drive to rid one of Europe's poorest and most politically dysfunctional countries of corruption.
Just last March, the finance minister resigned after prosecutors said they would open a formal case against him. Ponta's father-in-law and other senior lawmakers are also under investigation.
The allegations against Ponta relate to his tenure as a lawmaker for the Social Democratic Party from 2007 to 2008 before he was elected prime minister.
cjc/hg (Reuters, AP, AFP)