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SENTENCE - The Constanta Tribunal, in the southeast of Romania, on Friday sentenced Mircea Basescu, the brother of Romania’s former president, to four years in prison for influence peddling. Another man was sentenced to three years in prison in the case for accessory to influence peddling. The ruling can be appealed. According to the National Anticorruption Directorate, between 2011 and 2012, during his brother’s term, Mircea Basescu received a 250,000 euros bribe to use his influence with the judiciary and obtain a reduced sentence or the release of a convict.
EIB - Cristian Popa is Romania’s candidate for the position of vice-president of the European Investment Bank, the finance ministry announced on Friday. For the last years 16 Cristian Popa has been working for the National Bank, where he has served as vice-governor for three consecutive terms. He was also a member of the bank’s expert teams in the negotiation and dialogue with the European Commission, the World Bank, the EBRD, the European Investment Bank and the Organisation for Economic Development and Cooperation. Mihai Tanasescu, Romania’s former representative at the European Investment Bank, has been forced to step down, following his involvement in a corruption inquiry in Bucharest.
RESIGNATION – Cologne Police chief Wolfgang Albers on Friday stepped down as public anger continues to mount over the events on New Year’s Eve, when an estimated thousand men, believe to be mainly migrants and asylum seekers, sexually abused, raped and robbed some one hundred women in the city square. Previously the German Interior Minister announced 31 of the perpetrators had been identified, of whom 18 were asylum seekers.
DEPORTATION – The Jordanian citizen Jamal Abdel Jabbar Khalil will be deported on Saturday, after being declared persona non grata for 15 years for reasons of national security. The High Court of Cassation and Justice overruled the appeal he filed at the Bucharest court on December 29, 2015. The decision is final. According to the Romanian Intelligence Service, the Jordanian had been monitored since 2014, when he was red-flagged for involvement in terrorist actions and posing a threat to national security.
SURVEY - Romanians spend more than one third of their income on food and 8% on alcohol and cigarettes, according to a survey conducted by the National Institute for Statistics. The average income of a Romanian family in the third quarter of 2015 stood at around 600 euros a month, with expenses accounting for 67% of people’s income. At 230 euros, Romania has the lowest monthly minimum gross wage in the European Union with the exception of Bulgaria. Right before the start of the New Year, the government approved an increase in the minimum wage to 276 euros starting May this year.
TENNIS – The pair made up of Monica Niculescu of Romania and Vania King of the US will play Yi-Fan Xu and Saisai Zheng of China in the doubles finals of the Shenzhen tournament in China, totalling 430 thousand dollars in prize money. In the semi-finals the two won against Andreea Mitu and Patricia Tig of Romania. In 2014 Niculescu won the Shenzhen women’s doubles alongside Klara Koukalova of the Czech Republic.
HANDBALL - Romanian player Cristina Neagu has been designated the best female handball player in the world in 2015, based on the cumulative votes of 19 members of an international jury and visitors to the handball-planet.com website. The Norwegian players Nora Mork and Heidi Loke came second and third, respectively. Aged 27, Cristina Neagu was part of the Romanian team that won the bronze medal at the 2015 World Championship, where she won the best player title. She was also a key player for Budućnost Podgorica, the winner of the Champions League trophy in 2015.
EBU - The European Broadcasting Union has criticised the decision of the Polish president Andrzej Duda to sign into law a controversial state media bill. The Union says the new law is a step back with regard to the independence of the Polish public radio and television broadcaster. Endorsed by Parliament on the 31st of December, the new media bill was also criticised by the opposition, which says it gives the conservative government control over public media. The new law also sparked concerns in Brussels, with the European Commission meeting on the 13th of January to discuss the situation of the rule of law in Poland.
GLOBAL ECONOMY - Romanian experts on stock market transactions have advised investors not to panic in these volatile times internationally and to wait instead for markets to settle down. Global markets were severely affected by strong fluctuations on the Chinese stock market as the country’s economic growth rate slowed down and the depreciation of its national currency continued.
(Translated by V. Palcu)