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

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Dinu Patriciu, an emblematic politician from Romania's early post-communist years whose later career as an oil tycoon was marred by legal troubles, has died.

Former Prime Minister Petre Roman, a family friend, said Patriciu died Tuesday in a London hospital. He was 64, and Roman said he had been ill with cancer and liver disease.

Patriciu was a founder of the center-right Liberal Party, which embraced democracy and the free market. He later became a bitter rival of President Traian Basescu.

Basescu successfully sued him for libel in 2011, the same year as Patriciu was acquitted of defrauding the state and illegally manipulating markets to financially benefit his Rompetrol SA company. He had led the oil firm until 2007, when he sold a controlling stake to Kazakh state company KazMunaiGaz.