Premier Sorin Grindeanu stated on Thursday, once again, that setting a damage threshold for the criminalisation of abuse of office will not be done via Government Emergency Ordinance (OUG), pointing out that he is waiting for the Constitutional Court’s reasoning, after which the bill modifying the Criminal Codes will be drafted, a bill that will receive the Government’s approval and will be sent to Parliament.
“At this moment, there is a bill on which work was done at the Justice Ministry and that was subjected to public consultations, a process in which all institutions were consulted – whether we are talking about the CSM [Supreme Magistracy Council], the High Court, the Public Ministry, the DNA [National Anticorruption Directorate], the DIICOT [Directorate for the Investigation of Organised Crime and Terrorism] –, that resulted in that form [of the bill]. What does that bill include? The transposition of all Constitutional Court decisions within the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code. There was a Constitutional Court decision a few days ago. My stance and the Justice Minister’s stance was this. We must wait for the CCR’s reasoning. Constitutional Court decisions are mandatory, there must be a debate whose result will be a bill that will receive the Government’s approval and will be sent to Parliament. This is how we’re going to do things,” Premier Sorin Grindeanu said when asked if he mulls setting the threshold for abuse of office via OUG.
While in Washington, President Klaus Iohannis stated he has not changed his opinion on the damage threshold for the criminalisation of abuse of office, pointing out that legal specialists will debate the issue, the Government will come up with proposals and he awaits the result with great interest.
“I’ve expressed [my opinion] on this issue and I haven’t revised my point of view, but legal specialists will definitely debate this issue and we’re hearing that proposals will come from the Government too. I’m waiting for the result with great interest,” the President told journalists.
On May 18th, President Klaus Iohannis stated that he does not believe introducing a threshold for abuse of office is advisable, because the crime was either committed or was not and deciding that was up to the judge. “I believe it’s not even good to set a threshold, and I don’t believe it’s possible for a threshold to be set. After all, abuse of office was either committed or it was not. If it was, then the judge will surely be able to assess what the sanction must contain. In my opinion, the introduction of a threshold, regardless of how it would be calculated, would be arbitrary and I don’t believe it would help,” the President said.
Florin Iordache wants OUG on abuse of office: Threshold can stay at RON 200,000 or can be raised to RON 400,000
Ex-Justice Minister Florin Iordache (photo) stated on Thursday, at the Palace of Parliament, that the minimum threshold needed to criminalise abuse of office can stay at RON 200,000, as OUG no.13 had stipulated, or can be raised to RON 400,000, stating that nothing has been decided for the time being and the decision will first be taken at the Justice Ministry. Moreover, Florin Iordache said that the best solution to the problem would be a Government Emergency Ordinance (OUG).
“The threshold can be maintained at RON 200,000 or can be raised, even RON 400,000. There were talks with specialists at that moment, this RON 200,000 is not random. We started off from the sum of 2 million, the maximum sum stipulated in the Criminal Code, and we said 10 percent of that sum should represent a minimum threshold. We too are waiting for the bill, which is at the Justice Ministry, and depending on what threshold or consultations they too will hold… but it’s clear a threshold must be set,” Florin Iordache, the initiator of OUG no.13, stated.
The ex-Justice Minister stated that setting a threshold means observing the Constitutional Court decision.
“Since last year, June 2016, Decision no.405 says precisely this – the raising of the damage [threshold] and so forth; now it’s been stressed by and will be very clearly spelled out in the CCR’s reasoning too. That’s precisely why the Court said now that this request is unacceptable, because it was established a year ago, we can’t repeat it every time because the Court established it once already,” he added.
Asked for his opinion on setting such a threshold for abuse of office that there would no longer be suspicions that certain persons – such as PSD President Liviu Dragnea – would be favoured by it, Iordache said that the threshold should be sufficiently high to signify that criminal dossiers would no longer be opened for naught.
“This threshold is not being set for a certain person, but the Court itself, if you look over the considerations, this threshold must be sufficiently high so as to no longer open criminal dossiers for naught, because here we’re talking about whether there is a criminal act or there isn’t, and with this threshold we establish very clearly whether there is a criminal case or there isn’t. The civil lawsuit and the recovery of the damage will take place anyway. So, the issues are very clear at the level of local administrations (…) the Constitutional Court has established. So then, the size of this threshold, in my view, should be at least RON 200,000,” Iordache added.
Asked what he relies on when saying the threshold could even be RON 400,000, Florin Iordache avoided giving a clear answer.
“Look at the Criminal Code, it very clearly stipulates the damage of 2 million lei and when we set the threshold, starting off from the Criminal Code article that sets that damage of 2 million, we said 10 percent of the maximum damage set by the Criminal Code. It’s a debate, there can be a debate, you asked for my opinion. It can be 200,000, it can be 300,000, it can be 150,000, I repeat, but our opinion back then was that it should be 10 percent of that damage set by the Criminal Code. We have a norm. At the same time, if you also look at the Customs Code, a damage of 50,000 euro is being discussed there, which is equivalent to 200,000 [lei], so basically we’re in the ballpark of 200,000,” Iordache explained.
He said the Justice Ministry could come up with an emergency ordinance in this case.
“The rapid solution – the ministry could come up with an ordinance and then it could regulate, because a year has passed and this article or several articles have been declared unconstitutional,” the PSD Lower Chamber lawmaker added.
“Can someone afford another summer ending and very many Criminal Code articles being unconstitutional? Being able to come up with an ordinance has been a practice the Government has had throughout the years, what’s wrong with being able to come up with an ordinance now, because no later than last week the CCR declared two more articles unconstitutional. Do we sit like this until we declare the whole Criminal Code unconstitutional?” Florin Iordache concluded.