*The DNA’s judicial activity was covered by 33 prosecutors, with more than 14,700 participations in court sessions*In 2015, over 1,250 defendants were prosecuted for high and medium-level corruption*11,000 cases, twice as many compared to five years ago
The head of the National Anti-corruption Directorate (DNA), chief prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi says that the bribes in cases prosecuted in 2015 amount to 431 million Euros, a figure comparable with the budget foreseen for the co-financing of Romania’s motorways programme in 2016, 2017 and 2018. Final sentences obtained by anti-corruption prosecutors resulted in 200 million Euros waiting to be recovered by tax enforcement officials.
In 2015, over 1,250 defendants were prosecuted for high and medium-level corruption, including one prime minister, five ministers, 16 Lower Chamber lawmakers, five Senators, more than 100 mayors and county council chairpersons; one third of the county council chairmen are on trial. Criminal courts have given final sentences to over 970 defendants prosecuted by the DNA, Kovesi said on Thursday in her presentation of the DNA’s 2015 review report.
The DNA registered 11,000 cases, twice as many compared to five years ago. Anti-corruption prosecutions were carried out, on average, by 97 prosecutors, for an average of more than 110 cases each. Currently, there are 7,100 open cases, or twice the number that could be closed within one year.
The DNA’s judicial activity was covered by 33 prosecutors, with more than 14,700 participations in court sessions. The number of cases with final sentences pronounced in less than one year has grown by more than 60 per cent, while the acquittals dropped to 7.63 per cent.
Kovesi’s team has sent more than 110 letters rogatory in 2015, and the resulting evidence shows, according to the chief prosecutor, that no criminal should feel safe, no matter where they hide their money.
“It is the highest number of officials investigated by the DNA in a year. We’ve seized almost half a billion Euros. The cases currently handled show, however, that we did not catch all the corrupt. Our results prove that there are major vulnerabilities endangering the proper functioning of society. There are sectors in the public procurement domain in which corruption is generalized. Often, the awarding of contracts or the payments made are conditioned on the payment of sums of money cloaked through fraudulent agreements or fictitious contracts,” Laura Codruta Kovesi, chief prosecutor of the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA), stated on Thursday at the institution’s 2015 review, an event also attended by President Klaus Iohannis and Premier Dacian Ciolos.
“The High Court of Cassation and Justice is the jurisprudence landmark in relation to which we orient our praxis. Some are paroled without the damage being recovered, or using administrative tricks. Although the Penal Code that came into force since 2 years ago stipulates that parole can be offered only if the damage has been recovered, the jurisprudence is not unitary. I have asked for the promotion of an appeal in order for the High Court of Cassation and Justice to decide,” Laura Codruta Kovesi added.
She also stated that at present corruption is reflected in the quality and price of the services Romanians benefit from.
“Over 100 mayors and county council chairmen have been arraigned. A third of Romania’s county council chairmen are arraigned. It is surely the result of a non-transparent use of public budget. As long as the planning of a public procurement is not transparent the budget will be used for overvalued procurements. Citizens’ money will continue to be used to buy expensive medical equipment from companies headquartered in apartments, while hospitals cannot offer basic conditions to their patients. As long as the order of payments can be decided in a discretionary manner there will continue to be civil servants that take bribes in order to favour certain companies,” Laura Codruta Kovesi added.
President Iohannis congratulates anticorruption prosecutors on their 2015 review report
President Klaus Iohannis stated Thursday that corruption is still affecting Romania at a profound level, stressing that the anti-corruption fight must continue at full capacity and that the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) must be a key player.
“Unfortunately, the problem of corruption continues to affect our society in a profound way. This is why the fight against corruption is far from completed; on the contrary, it must continue at full capacity, and the DNA will have to remain a player focused on combating this phenomenon, extremely toxic for the society (…) I am congratulating you for the 2015 report. (…) You are the epitome of a functional institution and you have created a standard for performance,” the head of state told anti-corruption prosecutors after the presentation of the 2015 report of the DNA.
“From one year to the next, the National Anticorruption Directorate’s activity became increasingly efficient, through the number and complexity of cases handled and the final rulings on the seizing of assets obtained through crime. You are a model of functional institution and you have set a standard of efficiency. (…) The results obtained by you in the anticorruption fight, appreciated beyond Romania’s borders too, are a guarantee that the process of consolidating democracy and the rule of law in Romania is on the right track.
I am convinced we will manage to be increasingly powerful in implementing the constitutional principle according to which nobody is above the law and we will fall in line with the practices consecrated in states with consolidated democracies, which place the citizen at the centre of any public policy,” President Iohannis stated.
At the same time, the Head of State remarked the need to maintain the stability of the legislative framework and the fact that the danger of laws that would have risked containing the anticorruption fight, such as the amnesty and pardoning law, or tempestuous changes to the Penal Code and Penal Procedure Code.
“The Parliament’s approval of the judiciary’s request remains however a chapter with periodic arrears. I want to emphasise once more the fact that Parliamentary immunity should not become an obstacle in the fight against corruption.
Another important topic is the recovery of damage caused to the state through acts of corruption committed who were found guilty through final court rulings. We cannot allow persons that grew rich by breaking the criminal law to continue to enjoy the illicit assets. I believe, from this point of view, that we need a coherent action on the part of authorities and the institutions with prerogatives really have to be empowered, in order to recover the damage,” Iohannis pointed out.
In closing, the President assured anticorruption prosecutors that they will have in him a partner in their activity and in implementing these principles. “I have the conviction that you will continue the efforts to consolidate the rule of law and democracy in Romania, so that citizens would have the feeling that they are living in a safe and fair Romania,” the Head of State concluded.
PM Ciolos: Gov’t understands legislative, institutional stability as major premise of anti-corruption success
The government is aware that the legislative and institutional stability has been a major premise of the success of the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA); it has to be maintained, Prime Minister Dacian Ciolos said Thursday, upon hearing the DNA 2015 review report.
“What the executive power has to do for the anti-corruption fight is, firstly, to contribute to a stable legislative and institutional framework, to cover the financial and human resources needs, and to create conditions for an independent, performing management of the institutions involved in the fight against corruption. The government understands that legislative and institutional stability has been a major premise of the DNA’s success and that this stability should be maintained,” the premier asserted.
Ciolos mentioned that in the past 25 years, Romania was confronted with a “broad” corruption phenomenon.
“Illicit and illegitimate associations among representatives of the administrative, executive, legislative, sometimes even judicial and private bodies have promoted interests against the law. Where the political life and the administration should have operated in the service of the public good, we have often witnessed a state captured through cronyism and corruption. In short, corruption in the political sphere has affected the correct performance of the public administration and the economy’s competitiveness, as well as the citizens’ confidence in the state. I believe that in time it became clear that no one is exempted from observing the law, that criminal cases are not prosecuted based on priorities of the political agendas, and that, sooner or later, any offence gets punished,” said Ciolos.
According to the premier, restoring citizens’ trust in the state bodies is only possible if a “joint commitment” of the Parliament, Government and judicial system exists.
Stanciu: Impressive but worrisome figures
High Court of Cassation and Justice (ICCJ) President Livia Stanciu gave a speech at the DNA’s 2015 review, appreciating the results of the fight against corruption but also criticizing the way final court rulings are being enforced, especially in what concerns the recovery of damage.
“The list of official capacities held by those listed by the Chief Prosecutor gave me a cold shiver,” the ICCJ President said, referring to the high number of officials arraigned by the DNA in 2015.
According to Livia Stanciu, the figures are impressive but worrisome. The figures are meritorious for the DNA but bleak for us as society, the ICCJ President added.
The anticorruption fight will not have effect without concrete prevention actions and firm actions to enforce the final and executory decisions, Stanciu said. “I hope that the future National Anticorruption Strategy 2016-2020 will identify the best concrete and practical methods in order for the phenomenon of corruption to be prevented,” the head of ICCJ added.
Livia Stanciu explicitly referred to seizing of assets, a clear hint about the Intact Media Group situation that has been intensely discussed lately.
ICCJ President harshly criticizes “convict writers”: “Balzac should bow before them”
ICCJ President Livia Stanciu harshly criticized the “convict writers” phenomenon in her speech at the DNA 2015 review.
“We have all noticed, it is manifested through the ease with which persons convicted for serious corruption crimes benefit from reductions of sentence, sometimes far too significant, as a result of them writing papers whose scientific character is questionable to say the least, or as one British daily put it these scientific papers are amazing achievements for any person. The “productivity” registered in penitentiaries, they said, is not based on academic zeal. In Romania we are witnessing, they were saying, a veritable academy of criminals. Do we like reading that about ourselves? Criminals are using the legal stipulations which say that one scientific paper represents 30 days in jail. Could the British be right when saying that in Romanian penitentiaries there are champion scientists? Even Balzac should bow before their achievements,” Livia Stanciu stated.
JusMin Pruna to nominate chief anti-corruption prosecutor Kovesi for new term
Justice Minister Raluca Pruna announced on Thursday she will assume Laura Codruta Kovesi’s reinvestment as chief prosecutor for a new term at the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA).
“I take note of the DNA’s sustained results and apply the legal stipulations by proposing to have the Chief Prosecutor of the National Anticorruption Directorate reinstated,” Justice Minister Raluca Pruna stated at the DNA review.
The minister’s statement comes after President Klaus Iohannis stated that “the results obtained by DNA surely make us think about the fairly advanced possibility to reinstate” Laura Codruta Kovesi after her term expires this spring.
“I will start the nomination procedure immediately,” Pruna declared after Kovesi’s presentation of the 2015 report of the DNA.
The procedure involves a notification of the Supreme Council of Magistrates, which issues a consultative advice before the nomination is forwarded to the President, who signs the appointment. Pruna said she has not discussed Kovesi’s reappointment with President Klaus Iohannis.
” Recovering damage caused by crimes is important”
Justice Minister Raluca Pruna talked at the DNA review about the importance of recovering the damage caused by corruption crimes. ICCJ President Livia Stanciu offered a similar message.
Justice Minister Raluca Pruna claims that it is necessary “to guarantee the finality of the criminal process, one that would allow not only the conviction but also the recovery of the damage caused by crimes,” pointing out that “there is the need for ANAF in order to have a correct implementation of a European directive that concerns extended confiscation.”
“There is a price of criminal prosecution, the decisions have to be enforced. It’s as if I were to divorce but in reality I would not break up with my husband, meaning there is a decision and I am not enforcing it,” Raluca Pruna said.
Romanian Intelligence Service head: In 2016 Romania no longer resigned regarding corruption
Director of the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) Eduard Hellvig states that in 2016 Romania is no longer a “resigned” country, but states that the performance of institutions, economy and social cohesion are risking to be affected by corruption.
“In 2016 Romania is no longer a resigned country. The DNA is one of the state’s institutions that contributes to the hope that Romania can offer its own citizens a chance to normality and performance at home. It is clear that in Romania corruption is no longer accepted as a way of life. We have on our side our citizens’ will to modernize the Romanian society in all aspects of its life. In this respect I believe the partnership between the state and citizens is essential. I cannot picture excellence, legality and transparency in the act of public services without a direct relation with the citizen and his/her expectations,” Hellvig stated on Thursday at the presentation of the DNA activity report for 2015.
He stated that the DNA report is impressive and showed that for the National Intelligence Service the fight against corruption represents a strategic priority.
“Corruption is still threatening to jeopardise the performance of public institutions, economic competitiveness and social cohesion. The goal of the Service is to reduce the scale and the impact of this phenomenon in the life of citizens,” Hellvig stated.
According to him, the fight against corruption requires, alongside perfecting punitive instruments, boosting the means of prevention.