marți, 29 decembrie 2009

Yes, minister, you have a big portfolio - Times Online

Yes, minister, you have a big portfolio - Times Online, originally uploaded by ioanvickdrag.

From The Sunday Times
December 27, 2009
Yes, minister, you have a big portfolio
A row is brewing over the decision to appoint Elena Udrea as Romanian cabinet minister responsible for regional development
Bojan Pancevski


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EUROPE’S aid budget for Romania, one of the poorest countries in the European Union, has been placed in the hands of a minister who poses for glossy magazines in her underwear and was embroiled in corruption allegations.

Elena Udrea, a 36-year-old MP who is married to a controversial local businessman, has been appointed cabinet minister responsible for regional development in the former communist country.

Udrea, who has posed in a bikini as well as for professional photoshoots, will control a £3.3 billion budget for the development of Romania’s housing, infrastructure and tourism.

A parliamentary inquiry into her work as tourism minister recommended opening a criminal investigation into her use of public funds. She rejected the claims as politically motivated and prosecutors decided the allegations were unfounded.

She rose to prominence as a protégée of President Traian Basescu amid claims that companies connected to her husband were in receipt of public money during her time in office. Romanian papers have speculated about her closeness to the president. She insists that the relationship is “strictly professional”.

“It’s outrageous to give her control over the bulk of EU funds in Romania,” said Professor Alina Mungiu-Pippidi, the founder of a transparency watchdog. “She has a special relationship to the president and her husband’s companies’ profits soared under the current administration.”

Businesses associated with her husband, Dorin Cocos, include a former monopoly of Bucharest’s car parks and extensive interests in publicly funded construction projects. Udrea resigned as adviser to the president after allegations that public money had gone to her husband’s business associates.

A monitoring system has been put in place by Brussels to fight corruption and embezzlement in Romania and Bulgaria, which joined the EU in 2007.

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