Criminal Code modifications: CSM proposal: Abuse of office, exonerated up to EUR 50,000. Iordache: We support the amendments * CSM informs it did not propose a value threshold for any criminal offence

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The Supreme Magistracy Council (CSM) has presented within the Committee on the Judicial Laws an amendment to the Criminal Code, which stipulates a threshold of EUR 50,000 for abuse of office committed by persons other than civil servants, Florin Iordache pointing out that the PSD will back the proposal.

Through a press release remitted on Tuesday evening, the Council informs that it forwarded to the Committee on the Judicial Laws a point of view on the Finance Ministry’s request to modify law no.241/2005 on tax evasion.

“In this framework, the objective sought was the recovery of the damage, not the pre-eminence of the punitive measures. In the wider context of the debates on the modifications to the Criminal Code, the Council proposed an integrated approach to economic offences, through a new incrimination variant of Article 308 of the Criminal Code, which also regulates offences committed in the private sector. Hence, we emphasise that the non-punishment or the lenient punishment option proposed by the Council concerns certain guilty acts committed exclusively by private sector employees, not by civil servants,” the CSM pointed out.

Florin Iordache had said that the PSD will back a CSM amendment to the Criminal Code, which stipulates a threshold of EUR 50,000 for abuse of office.

“Indeed, the CSM has come up with an amendment to Article 308 – and I said from the beginning that all CSM amendments will be backed by the PSD. I don’t know about others, but we consider that nothing supersedes the CSM. So then, the CSM through the amendments proposed, we consider these are good amendments, and we will back this Article 308 in this formula. That [EUR] 50,000, if you look carefully, when we talk about the Customs Code that sum existed before too, so there’s nothing new,” Florin Iordache, chairman of the committee on the judicial laws, stated on Tuesday.

He added that the issue of how abuse of office will be defined is yet to enter the debate, but, in his opinion, it would be best for there to be no threshold for this offence.

“To go further, we are yet to discuss how Article 297 will be formulated, the abuse of office that preoccupies a series of your press colleagues and not only them, and you personally. At this moment we have 14 proposals on higher or lower thresholds in what concerns abuse of office. I said it’s very good for abuse of office to be redefined, so as not to have a threshold, because the moment there is a threshold… why RON 10 and not EUR 100,000. So then, society will permanently have the idea that, in fact, the definition of abuse of office is made for this or that person. That is why I believe that, following debates and wide consultations with all those interested, we will have a good definition for Article 297,” Iordache added.

The CSM proposes the following modifications to Article 308, which concerns “Corruption and misconduct in office crimes committed by other persons”:

“After Section (2), four new sections are introduced, reading:

“(3) In the case of the offences stipulated by Article 296 (embezzlement), committed in conditions stipulated by Section (1), a settlement reached by the parties removes criminal accountability;

“(4) The offences stipulated by Article 295 and Articles 297-300 (abuse of office, negligence resulting in breach of duty, abuse of office for sexual purposes, and usurpation of office) and Article 304 (divulging confidential or non-public information), committed in conditions stipulated by Section (1), and which cause material damage, are not punishable when the value of the damage is EUR 50,000 at most, in the equivalent of the national currency, and the wrongdoer pays the damage before the court is notified.

“(5) If the offences stipulated by Section (4) cause material damage and the wrongdoer – during the criminal probe or trial, until the court ruling remains final – fully covers the damage caused, the limits stipulated under Section (2) are to be reduced by half.

“(6) The provisions of Sections (4) and (5) are applied to all persons who jointly committed one of the guilty acts stipulated by Section (4), regardless whether the damage was covered by only one or some of them.”

In its current form, Article 308 reads as follows: “(1) The stipulations of Articles 289-292, 295, 297-301 and 304, regarding civil servants, are appropriately applied also to the guilty acts committed by or in connection with persons who exercise, permanently or temporarily, with or without remuneration, a task of any nature in the service of a natural person from among those stipulated by Article 175, Section (2), or as part of any legal person. (2) In this case, the special limits of the punishment are reduced by a third.”

Asked whether the EUR 50,000 sum included in the CSM amendment can be interpreted as a threshold for abuse of office, Florin Iordache said: “No. These are two different things.”

 

CSM condemns “excesses of language” of proposed amendment to the Criminal Codes

 

On Monday, the CSM informed that it has taken an active part in the procedure to amend the Criminal Codes, however it cannot accept the “excesses of language” that appear in the substantiation reports, taking the opportunity to call for a responsible public discourse.

“The Supreme Magistracy Council got actively involved, in line with its prerogatives, in the legislative process of modifying the Criminal Code and Criminal Procedure Code, seeking to ensure the observance of fundamental rights and freedoms, but also the achievement of an efficient judicial system based on predictable procedures. In this context, the Council has backed the modification proposals that resulted from the consultation of the judicial system, rejecting those amendments liable to affect the proper functioning of the judiciary in the service of the citizens. Without disputing the parliamentarians’ constitutional right to file amendments, the Supreme Magistracy Council cannot accept the excesses of language in the substantiation reports of such amendments, as part of this parliamentary procedure. Reiterating the Council’s constitutional role as guarantor of the independence of the judiciary, in the spirit of loyal inter-institutional collaboration, we call for a responsible approach to public discourse on the part of all partners of dialogue,” the CSM representatives pointed out in a press release.

The CSM refers to the definition of the crime ring, whose substantiation report also includes the following: “the countering of clans, as well as prosecutors and judges, in the committal of specific offences.”

The issue was raised on Tuesday, during CSM’s plenary meeting, by judge Mihai Andrei Balan: “We appreciate the legislative body’s openness concerning the bills. I believe our opinion is important. I believe certain amendments or observations are not liable to lead to good institutional cooperation.”