After a long absence from television studios, National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) Chief Prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi appeared in a talk-show broadcast by the public broadcaster and expressed her points of view on the recent events and on some of the most resounding cases currently handled by DNA prosecutors.
Laura Codruta Kovesi stated she still expects to receive intelligence from the Foreign Intelligence Service (SIE), in accordance to the law, and emphasised that the DNA did not have a conflict with SIE or with any other state institutions.
“DNA did not have a conflict with SIE or with other state institutions. According to the law, when an intelligence service gets hold of information related to corruption it has the obligation to notify us. I still expect to receive intelligence from SIE because that’s what the law says. We don’t have to have institutional relations, to meet, to sign protocols in order for them to do their job,” Kovesi stated.
The Chief Prosecutor of the DNA emphasised that she does not know the reasons why Mihai Razvan Ungureanu resigned from the helm of SIE.
Answering a question about the dispute between SIE and DNA Chief Prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi, President Klaus Iohannis stated on April 28 that he met her and SIE Director Mihai Razvan Ungureanu and considered the issue settled.
Asked for his comments on DNA Chief Prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi’s statement about SIE and whether he thinks SIE Director Mihai Razvan Ungureanu should resign, the President said at the time that he invited them for a talk.
“This situation is caused by communication that is, probably, suboptimal. In order to clarify these aspects, I invited them both, I had talks with Laura Codruta Kovesi and SIE Director Mihai Razvan Ungureanu. It was a constructive discussion, things have been clarified and next they will jointly find solutions to the problems that might appear and to the misunderstandings between the two institutions. I consider the issue settled,” Iohannis was saying.
Chief Prosecuted Codruta Kovesi stated in April that in recent years the DNA did not receive any reports from the Foreign Intelligence Service despite the fact that many defendants are opening bank accounts or purchasing assets abroad. She labelled the situation unacceptable.
In response to her accusations, the Foreign Intelligence Service (SIE) pointed out at the time that it is not monitoring the activities of Romanian citizens abroad, and the intelligence gathered by it cannot be used as evidence in court since it is obtained through specific means, through espionage carried out on the territory of other states.
DNA Chief on new request in Oprea case: President’s green light requested in similar situations
DNA Chief Prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi admitted in an interview for TVR on Monday evening that following Gabriel Oprea’s resignation from Parliament the prosecutor handling the case could file a new criminal prosecution request with the Romanian President, giving the Miron Mitrea case as an example of a precedent.
“It’s premature to discuss before the resignation produces its effects. For the time being it has been filed, we are waiting for it to be read out in the plenum and published. In similar situations the President’s green light was requested, and I can mention the Miron Mitrea case. The law does not stipulate any conditions in this sense. No other evidence was brought in the Mitrea case. After the resignation was published the case file and the request were sent to the President. We already have a precedent set by a Supreme Court ruling,” Laura Codruta Kovesi stated on TVR.
Kovesi on Olguta Vasilescu’s case file: Only a judge can tell us whether a case file is sound
DNA Chief Prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi also stated that in Craiova Mayor Lia Olguta Vasilescu’s case only judges can say whether there is evidence, the decision to eliminate some pieces of evidence in that case not being final.
“Whether the case files are flimsy, sound, big or small, it’s for a judge to decide. The judge is the only one in the position to tell us whether there is sound evidence in this case. In this case we are talking about a case file in which other persons are involved too, besides Olguta Vasilescu. The case file is on the judge’s table, in the court of first instance, no court ruling has been issued in what concerns guilt or innocence. We’ll see what the judge’s reasons are and we will abide by them. This year we have indicted eight hundred persons, six hundred have already received final sentences, some of them in case files finalised in previous years. The percentage of acquittals is stable. I’ve heard stories that a case file is flimsy, there is no guilty act, that it’s a political case, and later on we obtained convictions ruled by the court,” the DNA Chief Prosecutor stated on TVR.
The Bucharest Court has decided to cancel some of the evidence included by the prosecution in the case file in which Craiova Mayor Lia Olguta Vasilescu is charged with passive bribery, misuse of authority or influence and money laundering. The decision is not final.
Private companies paid large sums to intimidate DNA prosecutors. It’s something new for Romania
DNA Director Laura Codruta Kovesi stated on Monday evening on TVR that she has noticed lately a new approach in the attempt to intimidate DNA prosecutors, namely the hiring of private companies “paid lots of money.”
“Until now we were used to being attacked through public statements made in various shows, on Facebook. Lately I’ve seen that private companies are hired, being paid large sums of money, to come and intimidate DNA prosecutors. It’s a new approach for Romania,” Kovesi said. “DNA prosecutors are too resilient, let’s hire companies to harass and intimidate them,” she added.
Asked whether she felt intimidated following the Black Cube case in which two Israeli citizens – Weiner Ron and Geclowicz David – are accused of having tried to intimidate the Chief Prosecutor of the DNA, she answered: “I don’t think I look intimidated, I don’t think anyone was intimidated within the DNA.”
She noted that the attacks against the DNA have multiplied lately, coming particularly from persons investigated or “from the politicians who support those persons.”
But “we are used to being attacked,” “it has become the norm for a person investigated by the DNA to come out and levy all kinds of public accusations,” the DNA Chief Prosecutor stated.
She pointed out that “there is no problem,” considering that “freedom of expression is guaranteed.”
“We are not worried. (…) We are impressed and concerned about the dramatic effects of corruption,” considering that there have been “so many cases in which corruption resulted in deaths,” Laura Codruta Kovesi added.
Investigation into 2009 presidential elections started in 2015 when notified upon
Asked to comment the calumnious statements that ex-President Traian Basescu made about her, after his eldest daughter was placed under court supervision last Thursday in a case concerning illegal contributions in the 2009 presidential campaign, Kovesi answered: “I won’t comment on the calumnious public statements made by some persons.”
She pointed out that the investigation into the illegal contributions for the 2009 presidential campaign started last year, in 2015, after the DNA received some “notifications.”
“We are guided or halted in our investigations by the statute of limitation only. As long as the statute of limitation has not operated, we, as prosecutors, have the mandate to investigate any act that is brought to our knowledge through a complaint or address lodged by an individual or legal person. In this very case, the investigation opened in 2015; we received notifications, the inquiry started, some evidence was provided, and we have reached this stage,” Kovesi told the public broadcaster TVR 1 on Monday night.
When asked whether former president Traian Basescu has any capacity in this case file, the DNA Chief Prosecutor said the persons involved in this case are revealed in the DNA communique.
Ioana Basescu, the eldest daughter of former President Traian Basescu, currently under conditional bail, is being prosecuted by the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) for incitement to malfeasance in office and money laundering.
According to a DNA press release, the acts have to do with illegal contributions for the presidential campaign of 2009.
In the same case, prosecutors have started the criminal prosecution and have ordered a 60-day conditional bail measure for former Minister Elena Udrea, who is charged with five counts of money laundering; Gheorghe Nastasia – at the time of the offense General Secretary at the Ministry of Regional Development and Tourism (MDRT), charged with bribe taking, and Victor Tarhon, Chairman of the Tulcea County Council at the time of the offense, also charged with bribe taking.
Ioan Silviu Wagner is also prosecuted in this case, being charged with malfeasance in office if the civil servant sought to gain a benefit for self or for others. At the time of the offense he was manager of a company in which the state had the majority stake. Businessman Giovanni – Mario Francesco is also prosecuted in this case, being charged with tax evasion and money laundering.
“There is no Ponta-Ghita-Blair case”
Kovesi also stated that “within the DNA there is no Ponta-Ghita-Blair case.”
“There is a case in which we are investigating a businessman and a former party president. The investigation is ongoing; evidence is being gathered. Our role as DNA prosecutors is to carry out investigations into corruption crimes. This case contains corruption crimes that fall within the prerogatives of the DNA,” the DNA Chief Prosecutor stated on TVR.