Prime minister says he has proof he is innocent of charges of money laundering and tax evasion while president calls for his resignation.
Victor Ponta, Romania’s prime minister, said on Tuesday that he was prepared to go to court to answer charges of money-laundering, forgery and tax evasion as the country’s president called on him resign.
Prosecutors announced on Friday that they had launched an investigation into the prime minister over suspected money laundering and tax evasion, sending one of the EU’s poorest countries into a political crisis.
Ponta denies the allegations and says he has documentary proof of his innocence. In an interview with the Guardian, he rejected a renewed demand by Klaus Iohannis, Romania’s president, for him to resign, saying that neither Romania nor Europe could afford political instability in the face of Russian expansionist moves to the East.
“Romania is in the most sensitive area of Europe,” Ponta said. “We hope we will close this small but intense political crisis and we will get back to work, because Europe requires Romania to be stable and predictable in this region. I think only Russia will open the champagne bottles if Romania will be in long political crisis.”
Ponta was speaking in his office minutes after the country’s senate voted by a large majority against lifting his immunity to criminal investigation, drawing a stinging rebuke from the president and the prospect of a constitutional stand-off.