The Chief Prosecutor of the National Anti-corruption Directorate (DNA) Laura Codruta Kovesi (photo) said on unveiling the body’s 2014 results on Tuesday that last year saw a range of firsts since the DNA was set up, namely the highest number of recorded and settled cases, the highest number of indictments and sentences as well as the highest number of high-ranking officials that were probed into.
Kovesi stressed the Directorate’s 2014 activity can be characterised by enhanced efficiency in combating corruption, the investigation into complex files and a high degree of diversity of the criminal cases; the foundation of such positive development was represented by the substantial and consistent effort of the DNA staff, she added quoted by Agerpres.
More than 9,100 cases resolved in 2014
‘The as many as 86 prosecutors who conducted prosecution activities in 2014 had to resolve more than 9,100 cases, the highest such number since the DNA was set up. On average, a prosecutor carried out the prosecution of nearly 105 cases, an impressive volume given the complexity of the files that Directorate is tasked with. The number of the indictments increased significantly in 2014, with 317 indictments having been drawn up, which shows the prosecutors’ concern to chiefly solve the cases having judicial finality. The statistic figures confirm the efficiency of the DNA activity as well as the fact that the investigatory resources are being channelled towards the causes with judicial finality’, the anti-corruption body’s chief said.
More than 1,100 defendants prosecuted
According to Kovesi, more than 1,100 defendants were prosecuted last year and the number of the legal persons that were prosecuted doubled.
‘In 2014, we pursued the efficient exercise of the prosecutor’s competence in the judgment phase. The judicial activity was carried out by 28 prosecutors, who participated in the court sittings in more than 10,200 criminal cases. In 2014, over 1,130 defendants were handed down a final sentence, the solutions pronounced by the courts confirming the objective and professional character of the cases assembled by the DNA. On the other hand, the acquittal rate maintained the same as in the prior years, at 9 percent, below the European average, but we must continue the preoccupation for raising the quality standards’, the chief prosecutor underscored.
DNA has requested the Parliament to approve arrest of 9 MPs and the opening of 12 criminal investigations
The National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) has requested the Parliament to approve the arrest of nine MPs and the opening of 12 criminal investigations against incumbent or former ministers, DNA head declared on Tuesday in her 2014 report.
‘It was the highest number of high officials investigated by the DNA over one year. This is a clear sign of DNA’s independence, and the investigation of high-level corruption will continue, irrespective of the administrative, social and political positions of the suspects,’ she claimed.
Kovesi pointed out that the investigations carried out by the prosecutors subordinate to her have targeted various areas, such as the illegal restoration of real estate property, the healthcare, the education, the public purchases, the corruption related to legislative process and the frauds involving European funds.
‘Some investigations had a preventive nature and avoided prejudice of hundreds of millions of euros to the state budget. In a single case, the prosecutors’ intervention prevented a prejudice of over 105 million euros, which was five times the DNA’s budget. In other cases, prosecutors’ interventions stopped the illegal restoration of land property, preventing prejudices of more than 300 million euros to the state,’ the DNA chief prosecutor asserted.
According to her, the achievement of the goals set for 2014 is measurable by the consolidation of positive results in the priority areas.
‘Fraud and corruption in public purchases with national and European funds still has a high proportion in DNA’s investigations. In 2014, our records show more than 700 cases of suspicions of crimes in the public purchase procedures. Fraud in public purchases especially targets the national funds, as the [European] community funds are better protected by special provisions in Law 78/2000. There are many cases where the assignment of each contract is conditioned by payments or where the purchase procedures are influenced by individuals connected to political decision-makers. From the point of view of the types of criminal acts, the mechanisms of fraud in public purchases are being refined, and public purchases are still subject to corruption,’ Kovesi declared.
‘The quality of the acts of justice depends on the people who enforce the law; this is why corruption in the Judiciary was and still is one of our priorities. In 2014, 35 magistrates were indicted and 20 magistrates were definitively sentenced. The analysis of statistical data shows an increase of the number of magistrates indicted by the DNA and definitively convicted,’ she added.
Over 303M euros seized values in 2014, over 13 times DNA annual budget
The values the Romanian anticorruption body (DNA) has seized in 2014 were over 303 million euros, which is over 13 times the annual budget of the National Anticorruption Directorate, said on Tuesday the DNA Chief Prosecutor, Laura Codruta Kovesi when presenting this body’s annual activity Report.
“We shouldn’t forget that in order to carry out the criminal law’s goal it is important that a person sentenced for corruption does not keep their wealth obtained through criminal deeds. In 2014, the values gotten hold of by the DNA exceeded 303 million euros, which means over 13 times our yearly budget. The sums confiscated could be a significant source of public revenue, an element that should not be ignored in this period. The final court decisions in the DNA cases in 2014 have included the confiscation and recovery of criminal goods amounting to over 310,000,000 euros, three times more than in 2013. If this sum is actually seized, the salary fund the state pays to the medical doctors for one year would be covered,” said Kovesi.
On the other hand, the DNA head specified that following the significant reorganisation, assumed and completed in 2014 a boost was given to the territorial structures’ activities and an increase of their activity’s efficiency.
Kovesi also said that the DNA’s activity was influenced by the legislative alterations which occurred in 2014, the major impact being given by the new Codes’ enforcement.
Kovesi: The public confidence in DNA has reached the highest level since its setup
The public confidence in the National Anti-corruption Directorate (DNA) has reached the highest level since the institution was set up, the DNA Chief Prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi said on Tuesday; she cited sociological research as showing such confidence is of more than 55 percent, the highest rate for a judicial body.
Kovesi, who unveiled the anti-corruption body’s 2014 results, stressed that the public trust in the Directorate is also mirrored in the 78 percent increase in the number of notifications from the citizens.
‘In 2014, the DNA was one of the institutions the activity of which was the focus of the public and such high media interest cannot be stopped or censured by our institution. A reality that makes us glad and gives us confidence is that the public interest towards the DNA activity is very high, which is also reflected in that (the DNA) Internet page saw doubled number of accessing as compared the last year. According to a sociological research, the DNA enjoys more than 55 percent confidence, the highest confidence in a judicial institution’, she underscored.
The chief prosecutor stressed that the DNA activity was appreciated by the European Commission, the same as in the prior years, as also seen in the latest public assessments that highlighted the diversity of the range of action of the corruption cases involving people from various political parties and influential figures in the business circles.
General Prosecutor Tiberiu Nitu: DNA prosecutors continued to face pressures from outside the judiciary
The prosecutors of the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) continued to face pressure from outside the Judiciary; they have been exposed to attacks from politicians and media, General Prosecutor Tiberiu Nitu said at the 2014 annual report conference of the DNA on Tuesday.
Nitu did not attend the conference; his message was conveyed by his first deputy Bogdan Licu.
The message points out that DNA was the focus of public attention more than any other prosecuting structure, owing to its legal competencies in criminal investigation.
According to Nitu, the toughest challenge to the Public Ministry – the body of prosecutors, including the DNA – in 2014 was the entry into force of the new criminal codes, a premiere in the Judiciary.
Another difficulty for the DNA mentioned by Nitu was the Constitutional Court ruling on the unconstitutionality of the Law of digital data recording; it had a negative impact on criminal investigation, yet the prosecutors managed it ‘wisely and professionally’ by using other investigation methods, so that no serious crime was omitted.
Nitu admitted that the DNA was understaffed in 2014. Nevertheless, he said, the Directorate’s big advantage on other prosecuting structures was the possibility of its chief prosecutor to select the best people in the system and to renounce the services of the underperforming ones.
Finally, Nitu stressed that 50 judiciary police officer and 20 antifraud expert positions were added to DNA’s roll in 2014.
President Iohannis: Romania has turned into a model and inspiration for other countries as regards the fight against corruption
Romanian President Klaus Iohannis said on attending the Tuesday meeting of the National Anti-corruption Directorate (DNA) unveiling the body’s 2014 results that the DNA functioned ‘with the engines running’ in 2014 and Romania is turning into ‘a model and inspiration’ for other countries as regards the fight against corruption.
‘The data and figures in the activity report reflect that the DNA functioned with the engines running in 2014. I congratulate you and I encourage you to go further. I particularly appreciated the record results you reached last year… The activity of the DNA and of the judicial institutions has one more effect that I wish to underline. Romania is gradually turning into a model and an inspiration for other countries as regards an efficient fight against corruption’, Iohannis stressed.
The president said that since the DNA was set up and up until now, the state’s institutional capability of fighting against corruption has increased and there has been a range of changes in the people’s mentality as well.
‘During these ten years we have all been witness to important changes – the state’s increased institutional capability of fighting against corruption. It is not only the institutions that have changed during this time, but the people’s mentality as well. The feeling of powerlessness and of the silent acceptance in the face of petty and high-level graft has disappeared in the society. The beginning of the deep change starts from the rejection of the corruption phenomenon at any level and from the understanding that there is no other way in the public life than correctness and obeying the law’, Iohannis added.
The head of state reiterated that fighting corruption is a priority he has as a president, explaining that ‘it is on this fight that the existence of the Romanian state depends’.
Recouping the damages caused by corruption is “obligatory, not optional” for state authorities. Current situation of recuperation level at 10 pct, unacceptable
President Klaus Iohannis pointed out that recouping the damages caused by corruption is “obligatory, not optional” for state authorities, while showing discontent with the current level of recuperations and requesting authorities take the problem more seriously.
“Recouping damages is, as the serving of sentence, obligatory, not optional for state authorities. Recouping damages reflects the efficiency of the anti-corruption fight and discourages the phenomenon. The current situation, in which the recuperation level by the Ministry of Finances stands at around 10 percent is plain and simply unacceptable. That is why I am drawing attention and requesting the decisional forums to take this matter seriously, as it is becoming of particular importance. I believe a serious analysis could lead to the increase of resources for the DNA [National Anti-corruption Directorate], whether we speak of workspaces, human resources or budget”, said Iohannis, on the occasion of DNA presenting its activity report for 2014.
Furthermore, the head of state expressed his “unconditional” support for the fight against corruption, showing that the measure of efficiency of the DNA must be given, on the medium and long term, not only by the number of convictions, but by the effective reduction of corruption acts.
“We need strong institutions, and the DNA is in 2015’s Romania a key institution that contributes to strengthening the rule of law. My main role as President is to support this endeavour and to encourage the other state institutions to cooperate according to their competencies in fulfilling this purpose. I am your unconditional ally in this fight against corruption and for strengthening rule of law”, added Iohannis.
PM Ponta: Congratulations for the outcomes in 2014, I envy you for your independence
Prime minister, Victor Ponta has congratulated on Tuesday the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) for the outcomes it had in 2014 and promised that the Government would continue to support this body’s activity.
“I congratulate you and I envy you for the independence and the outcomes you’ve recorded in 2014. (..) I assure you that the legislative stability which existed in the past years and the collaboration between the Government, as starter of the legislative modifications, and the Superior Council of Magistracy (CSM), the High Court of Cassation and Justice (ICCJ) and the Public Ministry, will remain in 2015 and in the years to come, too,” said Ponta, at the DNA annual report.
In addition, the Prime minister said in the past years, the DNA budget allocated from the state has grown constantly, from 67 million RON in 2011 to 99 million RON in 2015.