Romanian Prosecutor General Augustin Lazar (photo) stated on Thursday that a significant 400-percent hike has been registered in the value of assets seized in 2015 compared to 2011.
The Prosecutor General pointed out that prosecutors have continuously ordered asset seizures meant to efficiently contribute to the recovery of the proceeds of crime, observing all legal requirements when selling the said assets.
“Analysing the statistical data of the Public Ministry, including the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) and the Directorate for Organised Crime and Terrorism Investigation (DIICOT), one notices an important hike both in the overall value of the damage caused by the guilty acts committed by those indicted, and in the value of the asset seizures ordered by prosecutors. Thus, while in 2011 the overall value of damage caused by defendants stood at around 2 billion Lei, this value reached around 10 billion Lei in 2015. If we use the same period, 2011-2015, the value of asset seizures rose just as spectacularly, from around 1 billion Lei to around 12 billion Lei in 2015. Looking solely at the hike registered by asset seizures, we notice a significant growth of around 400 percent,” Lazar pointed out at the opening of the 6th Pan-European Conference of National Claims Recovery Offices in the EU, jointly organized in Bucharest by the European Commission, the Ministry of Justice and the National Agency for the Management of Seized Assets.
The head of the Public Ministry said that all these hikes clearly prove the prosecutors’ special interest in recovering the proceeds of crime, as well as the intensification of cooperation in this domain.
JusMin Pruna: Judiciary is mature, stable, independent, less than 10pct acquittal rate in criminal cases
Romania’s judiciary is currently mature, stable and independent, as reflected in an acquittal rate in criminal cases of below 10pct, Justice Minister Raluca Pruna said on Thursday in Bucharest at a Pan-European conference of national offices in charge with recovering the proceeds of crime.
“Romania has long passed the stage of endorsing the legal and institutional framework. The Romanian judiciary is today mature, stable and independent. Criminal cases, regardless of what they aim at, corruption or organised crime, are kicked off and dealt with by impartial, well-trained magistrates. I believe the most important argument in this respect is the annual acquittal rate, which is below 10pct, below the European average, far below European average,” the Justice Minister said.
“Organised crime, terror investigation body to get its own financial investigation department”
Romania’s Directorate for Organised Crime and Terrorism Investigation (DIICOT) will be backed by its own department to investigate financial wrongdoing, Romania’s Justice Minister Raluca Pruna also told the pan-European conference of national offices in charge with recovering the proceeds of crime.
She added that the Justice Ministry, with unwavering support from the judiciary, has almost completed two draft pieces of legislation that, on the one hand, would generate an increase in opportunities for the use of extended powers of asset seizure, including from third parties, while on the other consolidating DIICOT capabilities by adding its own department to investigate financial wrongdoing.
“I believe these are two small, yet important pieces missing from a perfectly completed framework for successful closure of such cases. The two drafts will facilitate even more the monitoring and recovering of the proceeds of crime. (…) The idea is turning DIICOT into a specialised body that is as strong as the body in charge with prosecuting corruption,” said Pruna.
PM Ciolos: Act of justice incomplete if ill-gotten assets are not recovered
For the act of justice to be complete, the ill-gotten assets need to be recovered, Premier Dacian Ciolos said on Thursday.
“The driver of our progress this year with activating this agency (…) for the recovery of ill-gotten assets (…) is the idea that the act of justice is incomplete if we haven’t recovered these assets. For the act of justice to be credible and complete, it’s not just the handed down punishment that is important, but also the recovery of ill-gotten assets, because otherwise we risk weakening the act of justice and the force of the judiciary’s decision,” Ciolos told the opening of the 6th Pan-European Conference of National Claims Recovery Offices in the EU, jointly organized in Bucharest by the European Commission, the Ministry of Justice and the National Agency for the Management of Seized Assets.
According to the Premier, the idea to set up this agency “has been on paper for some time now,” but it was not rendered operational.
“Justice Minister Ms. Pruna pledged right from the beginning of this Government’s term in office to take action and find all the means for the agency to be operational when this Government ends its tenure. I am glad to see that we got thus far, because we cannot tolerate dishonesty in pursuit of profit as a way of work and lifestyle in Romania. The decisions aimed only at punishing the respective individual without proving that the judiciary, the state in general, is capable to carry the act of justice through are not enough,” said the PM.
Ciolos explained that, according to reports from the Public Prosecution Office, more than half a billion-Euros worth of seized money and assets are waiting to be redirected to the state budget.