On Tuesday, the members of the Lower Chamber’s Judiciary Committee issued a favourable report on the bill amending Article 301 and Article 308 of law no.286/2009 on the Criminal Code, striking out the notion of conflict of interest for civil servants and replacing it with the term “use of office to favour certain persons.”
According to the report, “the provisions of Art.301 and Art.308 of Law no.286/2009 on the Criminal Code, with subsequent amendments and supplements, should be amended as follows: modifying the title of Art.301 by replacing the term ‘conflict of interest’ with the term ‘use of office to favour certain persons.’”
The members of the Lower Chamber’s Judiciary Committee adopted Marton Arpad’s amendment, which reads: “The guilty act committed by the civil servant who, in the exercise of his/her prerogatives, carries out an action that results in him/her obtaining a benefit for himself/herself, his/her spouse, a relative, or a second-degree relative, damaging a public interest by doing so, is punishable by one to 5 years in prison and the suspension of the right to hold public office for a period of 3 years.”
Eugen Nicolicea, Chairman of the Lower Chamber’s Judiciary Committee, explained that at this moment several confusions are being made about Article 301 on conflict of interest.
“At this moment, there are several confusions about Article 301 on conflict of interest. For instance, the definition of the conflict of interest is: adopting or taking part in the adoption of a decision that favours a person with whom you have a certain work-related or family relationship, decision that results in a benefit for that person. This means that when the Constitutional Court judges elect their president they are criminals; the MPs, when they elect their Speaker, are criminals because they have work-related relationship with him; the Romanian President committed a crime when he hired, as his advisers, people with whom he worked at the city hall,” the PSD MP said.
The Social Democrat invoked Article 18 of the Criminal Code. “Article 18 of the Criminal Code says that it’s not a crime if it’s one of the justifiable cases, namely if a legally-recognised right is being exercised. For instance, there is the right to elect your CCR President or to fulfil another legal obligation while observing the conditions stipulated by law,” he added.
The MP added that the members of the Judiciary Committee took the text of Article 21 of the Criminal Code and introduced it under Article 301.
“Because we noticed there are cases in which certain persons are not capable of reading two corroborated articles, we had to copy the text of article 21 and introduce it under article 301,” the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee emphasised.
Asked whether civil servants may hire their relatives, Eugen Nicolicea claimed there is no restriction in this sense.
“We could have done it before too, because this is what Article 21 says: exercising a legally-recognised right is a justifiable case. So, if you are allowed to hire and there is absolutely no restriction, you’ll hire without any kind of restriction and this is not a crime,” Eugen Nicolicea concluded.