Romanian labour minister sacked over corruption suspicions

Bucharest - Romanian President Traian Basescu dismissed Labour Minister Paul Pacuraru Tuesday after the state's anti- corruption prosecutor opened an investigation against him.

Pacuraru is suspected of corruption and abuse of office. Among other things he is suspected of intervening to secure state contracts for his son's business, news agency Mediafax reported Tuesday.

Parliament lifted Pacuraru's legal immunity in August, with the labour minister himself supporting the suspension.

Pacuraru, who is also a senator, belongs to the ruling PNL. He has repeatedly stated he is not guilty and said political opponents are behind the accusations against him.

EU reprimands Italy, Bulgaria, Romania over emergency number

Eurpeon Union LogoBrussels - The European Commission on Thursday opened legal proceedings against Italy over its failure to fully implement the European Union's common emergency phone number - 112.

The EU executive, in its role of guardian of the bloc's treaties, also referred Bulgaria and Romania to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for similar failures.

Czech power utility CEZ to build wind farms in Romania

Prague - The Czech power giant CEZ is to build two wind- powered electricity generating farms in Romania with a combined capacity of 600 megawatts, the company said on Wednesday.

The state-controlled energy firm said that it bought assets a day earlier to build the Fantanele and Cogealac farms from the wind power developer Continental Wind Partners LLC.

CEZ did not disclose the purchase price but said it plans to invest a total of 1.1 billion euros (1.6 billion dollars) in the farms, the planned capacity of which is nearly triple the size of the Europe's largest operational wind farm of Maranchon in Guadalajara, Spain.

Romanian parliament lifts immunity of two ministers

RomaniaBucharest - Romania's parliament Tuesday voted to lift prosecution immunity for Labour Minister Paul Pacuraru and former economics minister Codrut Seres who are the target of corruption investigations.

Both politicians, who are also members of the upper chamber, now face possible prosecution on corruption charges. Additionally, Seres is suspected of "espionage" in connection with some energy business deals.

Pacuraru, a member of the National Liberal Party (PNL) voted in favour of lifting his own immunity. Seres, of the co-ruling Conservative Party (PC), abstained in the vote.

Ford's Romania plant posts lower profit

Bucharest  - Ford Motor Co's Romanian plant saw profits drop by more than 26 per cent in the first half of 2008 on weaker sales, news reports said Tuesday.

Net income at the Craiova plant, which is being upgraded to start vehicle production next year, fell to 1.08 million lei (454,000 dollars), the Mediafax news agency said. Sales fell by 4 per cent, the report said.

Ford last year agreed to pay Romania's government 57 million euros (79 million dollars) for a 72-per-cent stake in the plant, which was originally taken over by South Korean automaker Daewoo in the 1990s.

The move confirmed Romania as a rising auto industry hub after Renault's Dacia unit racked up strong sales with budget-priced cars.

Romania breaks up alleged dating-fraud ring

Bucharest - Romanian police broke up a dating fraud ring that preyed on US and Canadian nationals and made 130,000 dollars with fake promises of romance, news reports said Tuesday.
Based in the Romanian city of Cluj, the 11 suspects allegedly set up false internet profiles of Romanians looking for love, then asked for travel money when their victims got interested, the Mediafax agency reported.
Investigators in Cluj believe that more than 70 people were defrauded in the United States, Canada, Australia, Hong Kong, Britain and Belgium, the report said.
Police arrested nine people in raids Thursday, Mediafax quoted city authorities as saying Tuesday.