MPs voted on Wednesday, almost unanimously, to decriminalise conflict of interest for MPs who hired their own relatives at their parliamentary offices until 2013.
The draft law was adopted with 306 votes in favour and only one abstention.
The draft law on decriminalising conflict of interest was tabled by three Lower Chamber MPs – Marton Arpad (UDMR), Daniel Florea (PSD) and Florin Iordache (PSD, acting Lower Chamber Speaker) – on May 4. The draft “interprets Article 38 of Law no.96/2006 on the Statute of MPs.”
The law impacts several MPs. Marton Arpad, one of the initiators, has an UDMR colleague (Lower Chamber MP Mate Andras) who was sentenced last year to six months in jail, suspended sentence, precisely for hiring his wife at his parliamentary office.
According to the National Integrity Agency (ANI), the legislative intervention is not necessary, since MPs were not allowed to hire their relatives prior to the 2013 law either.
“The text proposed excludes MPs from the enforcement of sanctions for conflict of interest, by eliminating the conflict of interest situations for the 2003-2013 period (from the time Law no.161/2003 came into force to the time Law no.219/2013 came into force).”
In 2011-2015, the National Integrity Agency noted that MPs were involved in 56 cases of conflict of interest of an administrative nature and in 26 cases of conflict of interest of a criminal nature. In what concerns the former, ANI irrevocably won 22 cases, the court cancelling the Agency’s report in only one case. The rest of the cases are pending. In what concerns conflict of interest of a criminal nature, the courts issued suspended jail sentences in 18 cases, administrative fines in 3 cases, and 5 cases are pending.
In May, PSD President Liviu Dragnea stated that he does not back “singular initiatives such as these, which are fragments of a conception.” In his opinion, such a debate has to be managed by the Justice Ministry or civil society, and should involve people not suspected of subjectivity.