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September 30, 2020
EDITORIAL

DNA and the domino impact

There is no doubt that many of us are familiar with the “Domino” game, with some people’s passion to creatively and meticulously place each piece in order to create impressive images but also with the unequaled performance created by the domino impact, that beautiful effect of cascade movement. The impulse granted to the first piece, that pushes the next, and this other one pushes the one placed behind it, which pushes the neighbouring piece and so on, one after the other, until all pieces are fallen down under the vibration wave, is truly an exquisite show that delights any audience.

Beside the literal enthusiasts of the game and its atmosphere, the domino impact is felt in everyday life as well, either in politics, or on the global financial markets, when a decision or concrete phenomenon are creating a burst of effects that expand beyond the borders of a situation or country, where the initial phenomenon started.

Extending the concept a little bit, we may notice that the fight against grand corruption started by the National Anti-Corruption Directorate (DNA) generates a veritable effect of domino lately in Romania. Well-known names of persons of all high-positioned fields of public life, who once seemed or thought they were untouchable or beneath the law due to their influential position or their temporarily held power, are falling one after the other, overtaken by the wave of arrest that cannot stop as prosecutors clear out the twisted threads of the great files.

A few days ago, colleagues working for a TV station had an ingenious idea: based on the concept of a “shady cabinet”, the Antena 3 journalists presented the innovative idea of a cabinet of former or present officials under legal pursuit, preventive arrest or definitive conviction.

The list of the “DNA Government” including all names of former and present Ministers of all Governments in the last 25 years that were or are investigated, charged or convicted in corruption cases includes no less than 22 names of top politicians who once held the highest positions in all Ministries of Romania. The list of the definitively sentenced with execution leads to a total of 13 names, including the last one that joined the list, former Youth and Sport Minister Monica Iacob Ridzi, convicted definitively to five years of prison with execution a few days ago.

The Government of suspects, convicts and defendants presented in premiere by Antena 3, an idea quoted afterwards by other television stations and newspapers as well, includes the following names:

Adrian Nastase –  Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs (he was Prime Minister during 2000 – 2004 and Foreign Affairs Minister during 1991 – 1992), convicted to prison with execution, a sentence he completed.

Adriean Videanu – Vice – Prime Minister and Health Minister (he held this position as an interim during October 2009 – December 2009), under house arrest in the file of property returns.

Eugen Bejinariu – Secretary General of the Government (he had had this position in the Nastase Government), involved in the Microsoft file.

Elena Udrea – Regional  Development and Sports Minister (December 2008 – February 2012), under house arrest in the Microsoft file, under inquiry in the “Gala Bute” file.

Gabriel Sandu – Small and Medium Enterprises, Commerce and Business Environment Minister (he held the position as an interim during October 2009 – December 2009), under house arrest in the Microsoft file.

Monica Iacob-Ridzi – Youth and Sport Minister (a position held during December 2008 – July 2009), convicted by ICCJ to five years of prison with execution in the “May 2” file.

Decebal Traian Remes – Finances Minister (1998-2000), convicted to three years in prison in the “Sausage” file, a conviction he completed.

Relu Fenechiu – Transportation Minister (a position held during December 2012 – July 2013), convicted to five years in prison with execution in the “Transformer” file.

Ioan Avram Muresan – Agriculture Minister (December 1998 – December 1999), convicted to three years in prison in the “Sausage” file and seven years of prison in a file of funds embezzlement.

Cristian David – the Delegate Minister of Romanians Everywhere and Minister of Community Funds (December 2012 – March 2014), preventively arrested in a property returns file under charges of having received a bribe of EUR 500,000.

Victor Babiuc – Internal Affairs Minister (October 1991 – November 1992), convicted to two years of prison in the Becali – MapN real estate exchange file. He completed his sentence.

Tudor Chiuariu – Justice Minister (April – December 2007), under legal pursuit and legal control in the  Viorel Hrebenciuc file.

Alexandru Athanasiu – Labour Minister  (1996-1999), accused by DNA prosecutors of bribe-taking, abuse of office and money laundering in the Microsoft file.

Daniel Funeriu – Education Minister (December 2009 – December 2012), accused of abuse of office in the Microsoft file.

Laszlo Borbely – Environment Minister (April 2007 – December 2008), accused by the DNA of influence peddling.

Codrut Seres – Economy and Trade Minister (in the Tariceanu Government), convicted by ICCJ to four years and eight months of prison in the strategic privatisations file.

Zsolt Nagy – Communications Minister (December 2004 – July 2007), convicted to four years of prison in the strategic privatisations file.

Victor-Atanasie Stanculescu – National Defence Minister (1990 – 1991), completed his sentence in the Timisoara file;

Sorin Pantis – Communications Minister (1996 – 1998), convicted to seven years of prison in he ICA file;

Cristian Staicu – Culture Minister (he was Secretary General of the Ministry of Culture, under legal pursuit starting on October 14, 2014);

Varujan Vosganian – Economy Minister (April 2007 – December 2008 and December 2012 – October 2013), accused by  DIICOT of having created an organized criminal group in the Romgaz-Interagro file. At the time being, Vosganian was rescued of the inquiry by his colleagues in the Senate who nixed last Thursday the request of the Chief-Prosecutor to approve legal pursuit.

An analysis of this list, that includes politicians of the entire political scale (PSD,PNL, PDL, PC, UDMR, etc.), regardless of whether they belong to the right wing or the left wing, proves us that the great corruption that overwhelmed and suffocated Romania like cancer during 25 years of freedom and democracy, has no political colour and affects all parties similarly.

These politicians, regardless on what side of the political spectrum they are, temporarily appointed on high positions, gave in to temptations named greed, influence peddling, money laundering, receiving undeserved benefits such as commissions to fill their personal pockets or party piggy-banks.

Moreover, the fight and eternal rivalry between power and opposition, based on doctrines and political programs (regardless of what party held the power temporarily and what party was in the opposition, as the roles cyclically changed in time, based on the democratic game of elections) was just on surface and it was actually an attempt to deceive the population.

Beyond what we see on the surface, regardless of how much they are fighting or combating, criticizing and attacking each other in the Parliament, in front of TV cameras and lately on Facebook, too, high-ranked politicians in the Government and high-ranked politicians in the opposition are frequently involved in common deals, more or less dubious, and are partners, definitively not rivals. They are merely posing as vehement adversaries for the public but are actually best of friends, united by greed, selfish interests related to common business, complicity in inventing methods to steal public money and other funds. They successfully avoid laws, so that they could fill their personal accounts and those of the parties they belong to. When we are speaking about theft, greed and inventing plots to elude laws, all of them are the same, many politicians and high officials end up bonding through various arrangements, business threads, in a genuine “Famiglia” and are connected by a true monolithic unity regarding the level of complicity they can reach.

Only by adding up their wages during these years, it is obvious that, mathematically, the have no way to justify the outrageous wealth they have accumulated, their collections of villas and luxury properties (some of them more expensive than the properties of millionaires on the French Riviera or in Malibu), cars, art works or the costs of schooling their children abroad, not to mention the fat bank accounts, some of them unknown. Swissleaks disclosures about the accounts of Romanians in Swiss banks and other journalists’ investigations leading to the discovery of companies and accounts owned by some of the most important names of the day in tax havens provide us the luck of finding out interesting things.

For DNA Prosecutors, it was difficult perhaps to start undoing the complicated intertwining of tentacles and ramifications of these great cases of corruption that have been shattering the public space through impressive disclosures. But, as investigators gradually deciphered the mechanisms of this network of “white collars” corruption and got further and further in this Romanian “Mani Pulite”-like operation, catching one key character after the other in this complicated network of multiple-party corruption, the political characters started falling one by one, pushing one another, just like pieces fall in a domino game, ending up in the traps of investigators and in the hands of institutions meant to solve criminal cases.

Once, these terribly influential characters held the tools of power, which gave them the feeling they were and always would be above the law, that they are invincible. This feeling determined them to get imbibed by corruption to their bone marrow, as the cases placed now in the hands of the prosecutors show. Thanks to the efficient way the prosecutors are handling these cases, the profiteers of a system that had thought it was invincible are unmasked and falling one by one like domino pieces and demanded to assume responsibility for their criminal deeds.

If all of these politicians, former and actual Ministers, and other high-ranked officials of the magistracy (including prosecutors such as ex-DIICOT head Alina Bica, and judges, such as former Constitutional Court judge Toni Grebla) would have used their intelligence and potential constructively, and not diabolically, to generate plots and mechanisms to prey on the state, from the height of official position where they have been placed precisely to apply or to defend the laws, Romania would certainly be in a better situation today. It would have reached a higher level of development, a lower rate of poverty and a higher efficiency of institutions, most of all, of the institutions where these officials have worked, where, instead of abiding the laws, they were the first ones to violate it. They did so because many of them were certain that they would never be discovered, but also due to lack of ethics, professionalism, dignity and responsibility, leaving behind any principle of morality and succumbing to temptations and greed.

Of great importance and praise is that the avalanche–started by DNA for almost ten years since it has been working under this name, precisely to discover, exterminate and annihilate corruption in the category of “white collar criminality”– is unstoppable. Regardless of who was the subject they are focusing on, of the high position he owned or still owns.  And the best example is the criminal pursuit and arrest of Elena Udrea, (key character in the entourage of former President Traian Basescu), a person nobody imagined to see wearing handcuffs a few months ago.

The great files under current prosecutors inquiry, such as Microsoft, Gala Bute, the illegal property returns file, the fraudulent privatisations file, as well as others that will be certainly opened, will continue unveiling powerful names that, instead of placing their ability and potential in the service of the country that had appointed them in the positions they had held once, activated their diabolical minds to conceive mechanisms of theft, bribing, fraudulency. And surprises regarding the disclosures the forthcoming investigations will reveal to the public opinion will certainly go on. It is impossible that the vibrating wave of the domino effect would not reach the final piece and make it fall. Regardless of WHO that piece is.

 

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