Romania PM Victor Ponta charged with corruption

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Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta arrives at the National Anti-Corruption Department headquarters in Bucharest on 13 July 2015Image source, AFP
Image caption,
Mr Ponta, who is recovering from a knee operation, arrives at the prosecutors' office on Monday

Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta has been charged with several counts of corruption in a long-running investigation, prosecutors say.

He faces charges of fraud, tax evasion and money laundering dating back to when he was a lawyer before he became prime minister in 2012, the country's anti-corruption agency DNA said.

Some of his property has been seized pending the outcome of the case, the agency added.

Mr Ponta denies any wrongdoing.

Mr Ponta resigned as leader of the governing Social Democratic party on Sunday, saying he needed time to prepare his defence, but will continue to fulfil his duties as prime minister.

He is accused of receiving the equivalent of around €55,000 (£40,000) from a political ally and MP.

Mr Ponta returned to work on Thursday following a month-long stay in Turkey for a knee operation.

When the DNA agency began investigating Mr Ponta several weeks ago, President Klaus Iohannis immediately called on him to resign, says the BBC's Nick Thorpe.

He refused, and opposition attempts to suspend his parliamentary immunity failed due to the majority enjoyed by the Social Democrats and their supporters in parliament.

Now investigators believe they have enough evidence to formally charge the prime minister, our correspondent says.

Hundreds of top officials have been convicted of fraud in recent years, as the DNA agency continues its drive to rid Romania of its reputation for corruption.

Many of those targeted claim that the case against them is politically motivated.