Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) Director Eduard Hellvig has started the procedure to recall the 23 SRI officers who have been active within the Romanian Tax Authority’s General Antifraud Directorate (DGAF) since 2014, according to an exclusive answer to a MEDIAFAX inquiry.
The MEDIAFAX news agency had asked the SRI, as well as other institutions (Finance Ministry, Tax Authority and Supreme Defence Council), to answer the following questions:
Are there SRI officers within the General Antifraud Directorate? What is their role within the institution and what is the basis of this collaboration?
The Romanian Intelligence Service’s answer was:
Mediafax: Is there a CSAT [Supreme Defence Council] decision stipulating a collaboration between the SRI and the Tax Authority?
SRI: The SRI’s collaboration with other institutions and public authorities, including the Public Finance Ministry, is based on Article 14 of Law no.14/1992 on the SRI’s structure and functioning, with subsequent amendments and supplements. The decision in this case belonged to all decision-makers from state institutions represented within the CSAT, including the Romanian President and Romanian Premier, the Romanian Intelligence Service subsequently implementing the CSAT decision.
Mediafax: Based on what law or CSAT decision were SRI officers integrated with/temporarily attached to ANAF?
SRI: The SRI’s military specialists were temporarily attached to the Tax Authority, at that institution’s request, in line with the provisions of Law no.80/1995 on the statute of armed forces personnel, with subsequent amendments and supplements, and of Law no.284/2010 on the unitary salary grid for public sector personnel, based on a classified CSAT decision. The specialists who were thus temporarily attached contributed to the enhancement of the degree of analytical expertise, to the consolidation of unitary working mechanisms and procedures and, likewise, to ensuring superior standards of integrity.
Mediafax: Did SRI officers take part in inspections? What was the need for that?
SRI: The prerogatives of the officers temporarily attached were exclusively those related to the job descriptions of the positions held within the Tax Authority. During the period of their attachment, SRI officers carried out exclusively the job obligations that their hierarchical superiors within the Tax Authority assigned to them.
Mediafax: How many SRI employees are there within the Tax Authority?
SRI: The number of SRI officers temporarily attached to the Tax Authority was never in the hundreds and was always lower than the one approved through the CSAT decision. At first, 28 officers were temporarily attached, the process of gradually recalling them being currently ongoing.
Mediafax: What does the collaboration protocol regulate, precisely?
SRI: There isn’t a collaboration protocol between the SRI and the Tax Authority in what concerns the issue of temporarily attaching some specialists to that institution.
Mediafax: Has SRI asked for their recall so far?
SRI: Based on an analysis, SRI Director Eduard Hellvig has initiated the legal overtures to put an end to the temporary attachment of officers to the Tax Authority. Our institution appreciates the positive developments registered by the Tax Authority and supports the need to continue the efforts to consolidate administrative capacity, including by ensuring a high level of integrity.
Asked about the decision to temporarily attach SRI officers to the Tax Authority and about the need for such a measure, ex-President Traian Basescu told Mediafax that “it depends in which field, because if we’re talking about cross-border tax evasion, certainly; the same if the money is used for arms; the same if they’re used for drugs. It’s complicated. (…) I have nothing to state about CSAT decisions. What I can tell you for sure is that no CSAT decision allows for the breaking of the law. Now it depends whether the signatories of the protocols, if they exist, respected the law. That is very important.”
In 2015, while he was Premier, Victor Ponta admitted that Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) employees are working within the Tax Authority, talking about 140 officers. “Of course, it’s true. The Antifraud Directorate is working with all state institution. Where it’s true, it’s true; where it’s wrong, it’s propaganda,” Victor Ponta said.
Nevertheless, no other institution officially confirmed the presence of SRI employees within the General Antifraud Directorate.
So far, CSAT, the Tax Authority and the Finance Minister have not responded to Mediafax’s inquiries.
According to inside sources, officers from the Interior Ministry are working within the same General Antifraud Directorate, on the basis of the same CSAT decision, actively taking part, just like SRI officers, in inspections carried out by DGAF teams. The Interior Ministry has yet to respond to Mediafax’s inquiry about its subordinates’ activity within the Tax Authority.
Asked whether a possible protocol between ANAF and SRI will be discussed, Adrian Tutuianu, Chairman of the SRI Oversight Committee, stated for Mediafax that the committee will discuss the protocols issue in the upcoming period.
The SRI Oversight Committee will have to answer the most important question, namely the one concerning the legality of the CSAT decision and of the SRI officers’ presence in DGAF’s televised raids.