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Dinu Patriciu, ex-Romanian politician, oil tycoon and rival of the president dies at 64

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BUCHAREST, Romania — Dinu Patriciu, an emblematic politician from Romania's early post-communist years whose later career as an oil tycoon was marred by legal troubles, died Tuesday after a series of illnesses. He was 64.

Patriciu died Tuesday in a London hospital, said former Prime Minister Petre Roman, a family friend. Roman said he had been ill with cancer and liver disease. His family said that he died from a lung infection and was surrounded by family members.

Patriciu was a founder of the center-right Liberal Party, which emerged in 1990 after communism ended to embrace democracy and the free market. Patriciu, a suave former architect, was one of the first Romanian entrepreneurs, though his real estate investments suffered during the economic downturn. Both envied and admired, he quit parliament in 2003 to focus on business and soon became a bitter rival of President Traian Basescu.

PHOTO: File - In a Sept. 6, 2007 file picture Romanian oil tycoon Dinu Patriciu, gestures during an interview with the Associated Press, in Bucharest Romania. Dinu Patriciu, an emblematic politician from Romania’s early post-communist years whose later career as an oil tycoon was marred by legal troubles, died Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, at the age of 64, in a London hospital, said former Prime Minister Petre Roman.(AP Photo/Marius Nemes, File)
File - In a Sept. 6, 2007 file picture Romanian oil tycoon Dinu Patriciu, gestures during an interview with the Associated Press, in Bucharest Romania. Dinu Patriciu, an emblematic politician from Romania’s early post-communist years whose later career as an oil tycoon was marred by legal troubles, died Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, at the age of 64, in a London hospital, said former Prime Minister Petre Roman.(AP Photo/Marius Nemes, File)

"He wanted to bring back idealism to our country; he had libertarian ideas which weren't always accepted," said Dinu Zamfirescu, a former dissident and party colleague.

Basescu successfully sued for libel in 2011 after accusing Patriciu of circulating a video that appeared to show the president hitting a boy during a 2004 campaign. Basescu accused Patriciu of tampering with the film.

Separately, Patriciu was accused — and ultimately acquitted — of defrauding the state, money laundering and illegally manipulating markets to benefit Rompetrol SA, the oil firm he led until 2007.

He is survived by two children and his estranged wife.

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