Laura Codruta Kovesi, the chief prosecutor of the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA), on Thursday said society does no longer believe money solve any problem; she hopes politicians will follow the trend, but admits life proves the opposite.
In an interview to the Adevarul newspaper, she called the past two years “historical” from the DNA’s standpoint and asserted they will remain so in the citizens’ conscience. “This is not Kovesi’s merit, not [former DNA head Daniel] Morar’s merit – it’s the merit of all those who work at the DNA,” she added according to Agerpres.
Kovesi also called for a political line within every party as regards the penal matters and attributed the intentions of changing the Criminal Code to DNA’s investigations touching sensitive areas. “Until some politicians were not investigated or convicted, no one in the political class was concerned about the conditions in the jails, for instance. Perhaps it’s a coincidence,” she said.
The top anticorruption prosecutor dismissed the warnings of her predecessor Morar about the risk of mistakes or abuses under the shield of credibility, as the Supreme Council of Magistrates and the courts provide a double control.
“For the amount of checks upon us, there is no risk of abuse. (…) I never think we’re doing too much; I think we do what we have to do. I love it when we’re criticized; I hate to hear, ‘let them be, they’re OK.’ When someone says that about you, you have a big problem, at least in the judiciary system. The more the level of critics from some people rises, the more I am convinced we’re on the right path,” Kovesi declared.
For her and her colleagues, she concluded, the public confidence in them was the most important.
‘I have never asked about the circumstances of my appointment’
Laura Codruta Kovesi also said she has never asked about the circumstances of her appointment as head of the DNA, and that she does not know who came up with the proposal.
“No, it is not clear to me. I would read in the news now about being recommended, now about not being recommended. After the proposal was forwarded to the Supreme Council of Magistrates, an adviser to the prime minister phoned me to ask about my consent. I have never asked about the circumstances of my appointment to the office; I do not know whether that was the wish of ambassadors, the prime minister or the president. I guess my professional background and results recommended me for the office,’ Kovesi told daily Adevarul in an interview on Thursday.
About Elena Udrea’s statement that she allegedly negotiated over her appointment with Prime Minister Victor Ponta, Kovesi said she will not try to find out whose proposal that was.
“Such dispute over who appointed me and how has not impressed me. Never will I try to find out about how I was appointed, who came up with the idea, how and why,’ said Kovesi.
On how she relates to the Romanian Intelligence Service, Kovesi said the DNA activity was based less than before on cases opened after reports from the institutions.
‘I would go to statistics. The previous years, many cases were opened following reports received from SRI. Currently, over 90% of the DNA cases were opened after reports made by individual persons, legal persons or public institutions other than the intelligence services. So the number of cases opened based on SRI reports is a lot smaller than in the previous years. That’s because people are becoming more confident in DNA, so they started making denunciations and reports. At least statistically, SRI has a smaller role in the opening of criminal investigations’, Kovesi said.
‘We, for example, have not our own monitoring department. We need that. Whom are we going to turn to? I see that some of those who denounce our cooperation with SRI are from the Executive. Ok, give us enough resources tomorrow to be able to do our own surveillance and interception work and I promise you we won’t turn to SRI, we will just receive reports from them. Of course, there are many who would like Mrs. Kovesi and DNA to be on bad terms with everybody else, that no one should help DNA and that we no longer obtain results’, the head of DNA also said.
‘Very often we feel we are fighting with windmills’
Asked why offences committed in 2007 are prosecuted in 2015, Kovesi said ‘many of the cases completed in 2013 and 2014 had been reported by SRI already in 2007, 2008, 2009’ and that, when she took over as the head of DNA, the cases were ‘no longer being processed, there were just criminal cases and nothing was happening with them’.
About how a case priority is set, Kovesi said: ‘First of all, we focus on old cases, then cases with very big damages, cases where there is a risk of statute of limitation on offences, but also the position of the suspect. It is very difficult for one to say that a county council president, a mayor or a minister who uses his post for committing criminal offences is not a priority. You cannot let a suspect in that kind of position as long as you have enough clues that he/she is using the office for the commission of crimes’.
During the interview, Laura Codruta Kovesi also reminded of the fact that the Government had not answered her request to supplement the number of prosecutors.
‘Those who criticize us for working on older cases could increase our staff, could give us another 50 prosecutors so that we can redistribute some of the cases. I’ll give you an example – the prosecutor on the Microsoft-EADS case has 100 more cases in his cabinet’, said the DNA head. ‘Our human resource is effectively insufficient for dealing with these cases. Last year, we had the highest number of cases ever resolved by DNA – 4,500’, she added.
Kovesi also uncovered the fact that the number of people who had come to DNA to make denunciations had grown by 75% in 2014 since 2013.
On the support DNA has among Western embassies, Kovesi admitted to the fact that it made a big difference.
‘Both the support of foreign embassies and the support of the European Commission. Because one doesn’t feel alone in this battle. I am going to be honest with you, very often we feel we are fighting with windmills. Every other week there is a new draft law, there is an amendment that, if adopted, would make our work difficult. I believe the signal is not a very good one. It doesn’t feel natural to me to stop such an amendment only when there is public pressure. There should be some censure inside parties that propose such amendments. It is not fair to remove corruption from the category of crimes for which a prosecutor may propose preventive arrest. What kind of signal are you sending, as a politician? You may steal what you want, you may take bribe as much as you want, you won’t go to prison’, Kovesi explained.
Laura Codruta Kovesi said, in the end of the interview she granted to Adevarul, that she enjoyed the sympathy of regular people and that she was not afraid. ‘When I go to public places people recognize me and I only receive congratulations and encouragements. No one has come to me and say <Mrs. Kovesi, enough with these arrests, they are not stealing that much!> We feel encouraged by the support of the people’, she said.