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Romanian prosecutors probe asset-sales officials, advisers

Romanian prosecutors started a criminal investigation of links between a mafia gang and eight men, including four government officials, involved in the sale of state assets.

The prosecutors, acting on intelligence received in June, have charged them with endangering national security. Four of the men are foreigners working for international companies, the Public Ministry said in a statement on its Web site. The companies were not named. The eight men are being investigated in connection with „an organized crime group constituted around the Bulgarian citizen Stamen Stancev,” the adviser of an international investment bank. It didn't give details about Stanchev.

The probe coincided with a special meeting today of Romania's Supreme Defense Council, headed by President Traian Basescu, to debate energy security and sales of state-owned assets, including oil and gas company Petrom SA to Austria's OMV AG in 2004. The European Union, which Romania will join on January 1, said the government must crack down on corruption to make sure competition rules are respected.

Prosecutors are investigating Dorinel Mucea, the deputy head of the Economy Ministry's state-asset sales office, who oversaw the sale of Petrom and other energy assets, and the head of the office's legal department, Robert Neagoe. Neither man answered calls made to his mobile phone today. Neagoe denied any wrongdoing, newswire Mediafax reported. „The accusations made against me are incredible meanness,” he said, cited by Mediafax. „They're sheer lies. We'll explain them one-by-one.”(Bloomberg)