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Thursday
Oct162014

Ex Romania minister stripped of immunity in Microsoft reseller bribe case

Former Romania communications minister Valerian VremeRomania's parliament Monday voted to remove immunity from a former minister targeted in an investigation involving alleged bribes and kickbacks from re-sellers of Microsoft software.

Parliament voted 153 to 117 to strip immunity from Valerian Vreme, the communications minister from 2010 to 2012.

He's now facing abuse of power charges.

"Vreme signed a deal in 2011 to purchase more than 179,000 Microsoft licences for Romanian schools -- almost 73,000 more than the number of compatible computers at the time," AFP said.

Prosecutors allege the government paid $54 million for the license and $20 million of that went as bribes to members of successive governments and private firms.

"Eight other former ministers are accused of money laundering, abuse of office, and bribery in connection with contracts struck by the Romanian government to lease Microsoft software between 2001 and 2012," AFP said.

Vreme is the sixth ex-minister to lose his immunity in the case.

He has denied any wrongdoing and said he's been unfairly accused.

The Romania senate is to rule on lifting the immunity of two more of the former ministers, while the European Parliament is to rule on the status of the ninth, AFP said.

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Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.