Romanian politician and ex-president's daughter get jail terms for corruption

FILE PHOTO: Elena Udrea, president of the People's Movement Party (PMP), addresses her supporters during a rally to launch her candidacy for Romania's upcoming presidential elections at Victoria square in Bucharest September 28, 2014. Romania will hold its presidential elections on November 2. REUTERS/Bogdan Cristel/File Photo

BUCHAREST (Reuters) - A Romanian court sentenced a former government minister as well as the daughter of former president Traian Basescu to jail on Tuesday for money laundering and instigating others to take bribes in a 2009 presidential campaign financing case.

The court in Bucharest gave Ioana Basescu, a public notary, a five-year prison sentence. Elena Udrea, a former centre-right minister, lawmaker and close political ally of former president Basescu was handed an eight-year prison term.

The verdicts are not final and are subject to appeal. Basescu and Udrea denied any wrongdoing.

In the past five years the European Union state has seen its largest street protests in decades over entrenched corruption, while attempts by a previous leftist government to decriminalise some graft offences raised concerns in Brussels and Washington.

Investigations by anti-corruption prosecutors have exposed conflict of interest, abuse of power, fraud and awarding of state contracts in exchange for bribes across political parties.

Transparency International lists Romania as one of the EU's most corrupt member states and Brussels has kept its justice system under special monitoring ever since it joined the bloc in 2007.

Anti-corruption prosecutors said Udrea, then regional development minister and informal presidential campaign coordinator made a former deputy minister and a county council head demand bribes worth roughly 1.6 million lei from two businessmen in exchange for public works deals.

Similarly, Ioana Basescu instigated others to offer bribes and launder money, prosecutors said. The funds were used to fund various campaign services. Three other people were sentenced to jail terms in the case on Tuesday.

Basescu, now a European MP, became president in 2004 on a reformist, anti-graft drive and won a second five-year term in 2009. Several other people close to him have been sentenced to prison for corruption in other cases and he has become critical of anti-corruption prosecutors.

(Reporting by Luiza Ilie, Editing by William Maclean)

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