Laura Codruta Kovesi, head of the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA), explained in an interview for Germany’s ‘Der Spiegel’ what are the priorities of the anticorruption fight in Romania, and also what her role is in the process.
The DNA Chief Prosecutor pointed out that the rising notoriety DNA enjoys has led to a rise in approval ratings and to citizens filing more complaints than they used to in previous years, even in important cases.
“The number of complaints filed by people working in state institutions is growing,” Kovesi added.
In what concerns her tenure as DNA Chief Prosecutor, she stated that she “tried along with my colleagues to set our priorities and to organise somewhat better.”
“Indeed, the number of cases has grown. This year alone we have 10,000 case files handled by only 100 prosecutors, with another 50 prosecutors taking part in court hearings. The growth in the number of cases has several causes. At first, many prosecutors did not want to work at the DNA, there was a kind of uncertainty. There were several vacant jobs we tried to fill-in as time passed. My experience as prosecutor helped. I was able to identify many good, professional prosecutors within the system, who were willing to come and work at the DNA. Another cause is what I call the maturing of prosecutors from the standpoint of what the prosecutors’ independence means. It was a long process,” Kovesi explained.
“Ten years ago it was almost impossible to start an investigation against a minister or a secretary of state or someone important. Legally it was possible back then too, but prosecutors first had to learn they could act independently,” the DNA Chief Prosecutor said.
“Corruption in Health and Education has grown”
Asked what is her contribution to this process, Kovesi said that the contribution “was exclusively that of a manager” and that she does not handle cases.
“I organise the DNA’s activity and set the priorities. The priorities are corruption in the healthcare system, in public procurements and fraud against the EU budget. Moreover, I have reorganised the DNA personnel. Maybe my most important role is to defend my colleagues from pressures and outside interference in their activity. But the investigations are the prosecutors’ merits,” Kovesi said.
In what concerns the criteria on whose basis the priorities are established, the DNA Chief Prosecutor explained that priority is given to cases “that are very important for society or cases involving people that hold important offices,” as well as those “related to public procurements, where we are talking about many millions, cases related to European grants.”
“Moreover, my priorities also include old cases that have been shelved for a long time. We are analysing the criminality situation every three months and we set the priorities based on the results. For example, I noticed that corruption in the healthcare and education systems has grown, that is why this is a priority for us,” Laura Codruta Kovesi stated.
In what concerns the DNA’s popularity, Kovesi stated that “it won this popularity because of its good results in the fight against corruption at the highest of levels.”
“Our case files mainly concern persons that hold high offices or are cases that have an impact on society. That is why people are closely following what we are working on. The fact that we have obtained convictions too means that the case files were well handled and were based on clear evidence.”