(MENAFN- The Journal Of Turkish Weekly) Romania's anti-graft investigators on Monday questioned Ioana Valmar the ex-wife of the speaker of the parliament in a case of real estate fraud involving many big public names and even royalty.
Valmar a notary is being investigated for her role in legalising the paperwork in illegal land and property dealings which prosecutors say cost the state some 136 million euros.
The National Anti-corruption Department DNA has already made a number of arrests including Prince Paul of Romania who is charged with buying influence money laundering and complicity in abuse of office.
A court on Saturday placed Prince Paul under house arrest during the prosecutors’ investigation.
Five other people were detained for 24 hours last week including businessman Remus Truica former Prime Minister Adrian Nastase’s chief of staff and Dan Andronic the director of a leading daily newspaper.
Prosecutors say Prince Paul illegally claimed the restitution of 28.6 hectares of land in northern Bucharest arguing that the land had belonged to his grandfather King Carol II before being nationalized by the Communist regime.
Prince Paul made the claim in 2002 although he was not officially recognised as a legitimate member of the Romanian royal family at the time.
After failing to recover the properties four years later he approached Remus Truica who was well-connected with political leaders to help him with the restitution promising Truica's group up to 80 per cent of the value of the recovered assets in exchange according to prosecutors.
Prince Paul received all the claimed properties in 2008. He was questioned about 30000 hectares of forest land he had claimed last year.
The Prince formerly known as Paul-Phillippe Hohenzollern now 67 is a controversial figure.
He has long claimed that he - not former King Michael of Romania - is the rightful heir to Romania’s royal house and thus also to its assets and property.
Romania’s Supreme Court formally recognized his royal title in 2012 when it accepted that he was King Carol II's grandson and thus a nephew to King Michael the current head of the royal family. Soon after he changed his name to "Paul of Romania".
Disputes over his title go back to a love story from more than a century ago when Carol then heir to the throne secretly married a Romanian aristocrat.
The marriage was later annulled because by law the heir to the throne had to marry a foreign princess.
However a child was born from this morganatic marriage Mircea Grigore who in 1955 was recognized by a Portuguese court as Carol’s legitimate son. Paul is Mircea’s son.
After the fall of the Communist regime in Romania in 1989 a Romanian court recognized the ruling in Lisbon but King Michael has since appealed against it three times.
Paul is totally estranged from King Michael 94 the son of Carol's legitimate marriage to Princess Elena of Greece.
Romania’s last King from 1927 to 1930 and then from 1940 to 1947 Michael was forced into exile in 1947 when the Communist Party seized full control of the country.
Experts say that more than a fifth of the cases of restitution of properties confiscated by the Communist regime in Romania are in some ways illegal.