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May 23, 2022

High-level corruption investigations create a stir in foreign press

National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) Chief Prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi believes that the DNA’s independence could be affected after the elections. “I was appointed by the current President, at the Premier’s proposal. If their successors do not back us in the anticorruption fight everything will be lost. The risk is indeed there, but we have two worthy allies. First, the European Union which plays the role of a guardian. Then the civil society which represents our best protection,” Kovesi stated for ‘L’Express.’
Codruta Kovesi also stated for the French daily that the DNA is currently handling serious cases such as the one concerning the illegal restitution of forests that belonged to the state, the case concerning the sale of Microsoft licenses or the EADS case. “The Romanian people had been waiting for this for many years. Finally, the state is engaged in the fight against corruption! A difficult work: first it has to be proven to the population that the judiciary today is independent of who is in office. This has been done. Minister or simple citizen, everyone is treated the same today. And, most importantly, jail sentences – up to ten years in jail in the most serious cases – are being pronounced,” the DNA Chief Prosecutor added.
Le Monde: “The true battle is taking place on a different front, that of the Judiciary”
‘Le Monde’ journalists have also written about Romania’s presidential elections and the independence of the judiciary. According to them, “the true battle is taking place on a different front, that of the Judiciary.” “The National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA), led by an Iron Lady, Laura Kovesi, has started an operation that targets the entire political spectrum. DNA’s track record is getting richer by the year: 743 convictions in 2012, 1,041 in 2013 and over 1,500 this year. They include the conviction of former Premier Adrian Nastase, sentenced to two years in jail for corruption in 2012,” Le Monde writes. The publication quotes Laura Kovesi, who emphasizes the judiciary’s independence: “The prosecutors are independent. We can investigate ministers, MPs, magistrates, police officers or directors of public companies. We have no problems to investigate any case of corruption.” ‘Le Monde’ also points out that the DNA has asked for the lifting of the immunity of nine former ministers and MPs involved in the Microsoft case and also mentions the Lukoil and EADS cases. “In these cases the state lost approximately EUR 1 bln,” ‘Le Monde’ quotes former Justice Minister and current presidential candidate Monica Macovei as saying. This sum, which corresponds to the Romanian capital’s annual budget, could have financed the construction of 200 kilometers of highways in a country in which infrastructure is outdated, the French daily comments. “The judiciary’s operation reveals the existence of an octopus with many tentacles. On October 17 another investigation shook political life in Romania. MP Viorel Hrebenciuc, the grey eminence of the Social Democrat Party, was charged with corruption and influence peddling. According to the prosecutor’s report, he allegedly obtained 120 square kilometers of forest – the equivalent of half of Bucharest’s surface area. On October 15 prosecutors also heard Senator Ilie Sarbu, the father-in-law of Premier Victor Ponta, ‘Le Monde’ adds. “We will continue to investigate despite the politicians’ statements against us. Our prosecutors are not sensitive to influences and our cases target the representatives of all political parties,” Kovesi stated, being quoted by ‘Le Monde,’ which concludes that the prosecutors’ unprecedented offensive is shaking a political class suspected of tolerating endemic corruption in Romania.

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