Baltazar, Romania banker, ex-gov't spokesman, dies

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — A hospital spokesman says influential banker Bogdan Baltazar, who became Romania's first government spokesman after communism collapsed, has died. He was 73.

Valentin Calu said Baltazar had been suffering from cancer and that he died at Elias Hospital in Bucharest on Friday.

Baltazar led a privileged life under communism, studying at the City University in New York in the 1960s.

He was later accused of having been recruited by the Communist secret police, the Securitate — a charge he never denied.

He became well-known as the spokesman in 1990 for Prime Minister Petre Roman, and journalists described him as full of humor and charm, as well as prone to off-the-cuff remarks.

Baltazar was director of the French-owned Romanian Development Bank from 1998 to 2004.

He is survived by his wife.