Corruption scandal fells Romanian finance minister

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Mar 16 2015 07:28 AM | Updated as of Mar 16 2015 03:36 PM

BUCHAREST, Romania - Romanian Finance Minister Darius Valcov resigned Sunday amid swirling corruption charges, heeding a call by President Klaus Iohannis for his ouster before rising graft allegations undermined the government's credibility.

"Valcov has tendered his resignation," Romania's Social Democratic Prime Minister Victor Ponta told private TV channel Antena 3, adding he planned to appoint a successor to the post "in several days."

Valcov is being probed by prosecutors on suspicions he accepted two million euros ($2.1 million) in bribes between 2010 and 2013 while serving as mayor of the southern city Slatina.

He is accused of pocketing the payments in exchange for helping a private company secure public works contracts.

The investigation into the graft allegations is one of several that have targeted high-level politicians and government officials in Romania in recent years, which may have motivated Iohannis' call for Valcov to step down.

"With anti-corruption prosecutors engaged in action against Finance Minister Darius Valcov, I expect him to resign in the knowledge his presence undermines the government's credibility," Iohannis said, urging Ponta to "begin procedures necessary to revoke Mr Valcov's functions" if need be.

Valcov was appointed finance minister in December, and recently unveiled a new tax code that was set to be presented to parliament by the end of the month.

The objective of the revision was to reduce the weight of Romania's tax structure by 2020 as a means of stimulating sluggish economic growth.

Despite concerns of the International Monetary Fund that the planned tax cuts risk producing significant revenue shortfalls, Ponta has insisted the revision "will proceed at all costs, no matter the political cost".