The Head Prosecutor of the National Anti-Corruption Directorate (DNA), Laura Codruta Kovesi, described how DNA was performing its activity recently in an exclusive interview for the daily paper Romania Libera, as well as the relation between SRI and DNA. Thus, the Head of the National Anti-Corruption Directorate answered criticism, including the one received lately from former President Traian Basescu, and set things straight regarding her future plans. She refused though to provide concrete details on the cases she was working on, but she gave a few short answers, avoiding violations of the code of conduct and rules of the institution.
“The number of cases registered at DNA is increasing. In the initial three months of the year 2015, we registered over 1,500 new files. So, other 1,500 files were added to the 5,300 ones we had at the beginning of January. We have almost 7,000 files in stock and 86 prosecutors working on them. Everything people see DNA doing is accomplished by 86 prosecutors, helped at their work by 190 police officers. Therefore, it is not true that we are thousands of people here, at DNA. There are no more than 86 prosecutors and 190 police officers”, Kovesi said.
She confirmed that the present stage of investigation in the big files is not going to end anytime soon. “I am sure that it will not end anytime soon. I think that there are two causes determining an explosion, if I may use this word, of the DNA quantum of activity. One of them is the increase of trust in this structure because there are numerous citizens coming to submit denunciations at our headquarters. The number of persons submitting information increased by over 75% compared to last year. Second, we have plenty of notifications from behalf of other public institutions. I am positive that the volume of files will be maintained at a pretty high level this year as well”.
Handcuffs were not invented in 2015, and not by DNA
Questioned about the highly controversial “handcuff show” and about the overly publicized appearances of investigated persons on cameras, Kovesi replied: “The handcuffs were not invented in 2015 and were not invented by DNA. Placing handcuffs on people is an activity that is not performed by prosecutors. We are not the ones to decide. The manner of handcuffing a person is established by the regulations and orders of the Internal Affairs Minister, of the Head of Romanian Police, there are police rules our officers at DNA respect and apply. I cannot be held responsible for what happens inside the institution. Handcuffs became a problem as soon as the persons exiting DNA were filmed. But there are also people who were filmed while wearing handcuffs at the High Court, entering or exiting police arrest or when they are carried to court, at the Appeal Court. Unfortunately, people only talk about those who exit DNA wearing handcuffs. We were not the ones making the rules, we merely apply them with the police officers working for us. There are pretty clear rules on when to put on handcuffs, why to put on handcuffs and how to put on handcuffs.
General Coldea has no office at DNA, he visited us four or five times in two years
The Head Prosecutor of DNA denied speculations in the media claiming that General Florin Coldea, the Deputy Director of the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) had an office at DNA headquarters, where he issues orders regarding how to conduct certain files.
“No. There is nothing of this sort. Anyway, we have a shortage of offices for prosecutors. Some of them are crammed with police officers because we do not have enough space. No person unemployed by this institution has an office here.” She also said that the SRI Deputy Director visited DNA four or five times in two years, accompanied by some of his collaborators.
Questioned whether she had an office at SRI, Laura Codruta Kovesi answered: “No, no way. Yet, if any other institution of the state offers us a few offices, to solve the problem of space, we will be grateful for it. Obviously, I am joking. I do not have an office at SRI and nobody from SRI has an office here.”
Nonetheless, Kovesi admitted in her interview for Romania Libera that DNA had an excellent relation with the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI). “As long as SRI was headed by Mr. George Maior, we had an excellent institution collaboration, based on professional respect, on applying laws and protocols that regulate this collaboration. The relation with SRI is still very good, even if the Head of SRI changed in the meantime. SRI is one of the institutional partners we are collaborating with, but it is not the only one. We are collaborating with other Intelligence Services as well, by example with the Intelligence Service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The fact that certain cases do not enjoy much media attention leads perhaps to this conclusion, that our activity is exclusively based on information supplied by SRI. At the same time, if other information services in Romania would have a greater determination to work with us and would send us more notifications, perhaps the cooperation with them would be just as fine. We are working with people who send us information.”
Conviction rate is over 90 per cent
Laura Codruta Kovesi also discussed the DNA share of failure. “The conviction rate is of over 90 per cent and is a percentage considered great even in the World Bank report. The average rate of convictions in Europe is approximately 75 per cent, which shows that all our files are placed under highly rigorous control from behalf of Courts.
Many acquittals appeared due to changes of laws and due to incriminations and disincriminations. There are acquittals granted after ten or eleven years. Last year, there was an acquittal in a file opened in 2002, DNA was not even founded back then, but, obviously, the failure is attributed to us.
What is more important, though, is that we examine each acquittal, we analyze it to find out the mistakes that may be corrected and the eventual vulnerabilities. We even have professional meetings with judges and seminaries, where we try to harmonize and see where the mistakes were.”
In 2014, Courts ordered the recovery of prejudices worth EUR 310 million; if the sum is cashed, doctors’ wages may be doubled.
As far as the recovery of prejudices in the files conducted by DNA is concerned, the Anti-Corruption Head Prosecutor replied:
“In 2014, Courts ordered seizing and recovery of prejudices of over EUR 310 million. If this sum is cashed effectively, doctors’ wages may be doubled. It is a definitive sum, that cannot be appealed”. She also said that she was awaiting a report from ANAF, to see how much of the prejudice was recovered.
“We did not receive from an ANAF an explanation as to why they do not execute the sentences. We have real estate property under sequestration, seized cars, blocked accounts of money, all the state has to do is execute these goods. If we make a comparison with the situation of a physical person who did not pay taxes, it is obvious that there are plenty of tools by which the state may recover them. Their accounts are blocked, by example. If you did not pay a tax of RON 100, the account where you receive your salary is blocked. The same thing must happen in the case of people convicted for corruption. Especially that many of these people’s goods are already blocked.”
I have no intention to run for President
In her interview for Romania Libera, Kovesi also denied rumours launched recently by the media, saying that she intended to run for President.
“No! I have no intention whatsoever to run for President. This year, I am celebrating my 20th year as a magistrate and I would like to use all the experience I gained in the interest of the legal system. I do not want to run for President. Not in 2016, not in any other year. People making these speculations are talking for themselves. I never expressed any wish to run for President and I think that my role and my duty are to complete my term as leader of this institution.
There are evolutions in the EADS file. Microsoft and EADS files converge on certain aspects
On the EADS file, the Anti-Corruption Head Prosecutor declared: „There are evolutions. There fact that they were not revealed to the media does not mean that they did not occur. The two files, Microsoft and EADS, converge on certain aspects, this is why the same team of prosecutors is working on both. In the file, preventive measures were demanded against certain persons, which determined a faster rhythm of inquiries related to the persons preventive measures were applied on. I assure you that we are working systematically. Activities are being completed day by day. It is not a file we will not solve or a file we are not working on. But we will reveal the results to the public when we can. Also, we have a great collaboration with German authorities and with other authorities as well. There are many aspects that must be checked in this file. These are complex files. The prosecutors working on this file also work on other files, as well, and certainly, they are trying to finish as soon as possible.”
Last year, DNA prosecutors solved 4,100 files
“I would like to tell you that last year, by tremendous effort, prosecutors solved over 4,100 files. This was the highest number of files solved in one year, ever since the DNA exists. With all this effort, at the end of the year, there were still 5,000 files pending. So, imagine that if we want to finish all the files we are working on and to keep up to date with files newly registered in 2015, we should not work on files we are to receive next for one year. And consider that right now we have 7,500 files for 86 prosecutors. This is the reason why, sometimes, files registered at DNA in 2010, 2011 and 2012 are solved just now. It happens especially with cases based on offences related to acquisitions. There, you have to collect documents and to request various experts’ opinions and it is way tougher to finish them in six months or in one year.”