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Romanian media mogul, others get prison sentences for fraud, money laundering

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BUCHAREST, Romania - A Romanian court on Friday sentenced a media mogul to 10 years in prison for money laundering and fraudulently privatizing an agricultural institute. Six others also got prison sentences for the 2003 sale.

The Bucharest Appeals Court sentenced Dan Voiculescu for using his political influence to buy the Food Research Institute for 100,000 euros ($135,000) — a fraction of its estimated value of 7.7 million euros ($10.3 million). The court also ordered the confiscation of property, television studios and land belonging to his Antena media group to cover damages. In addition, his family was ordered to pay 1.3 million euros ($1.75 million) in restitution.

Voiculescu, a 67-year-old former senator, has claimed the case is politically motivated. He and his television station have been critical of President Traian Basescu and he initiated votes to impeach the president in 2007 and 2012, which failed because too few Romanians voted.

Former telecommunications minister Sorin Pantis received a seven-year prison sentence in the case, two others got eight-year prison sentences and three others received sentences ranging from four to six years.

Since Voiculescu is over 60, he will be eligible for release after serving one-third of his sentence.

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