Chief prosecutor of the National Anti-Corruption Directorate (DNA) Crin Bologa said on Tuesday that when DNA was established Romania “was captive to some networks that embezzled public resources, but now DNA is strong and “will not regress in its fight against corruption.”
“The establishment of the National Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office in 2002, then its transformation into the National Anti-Corruption Department and in 2005 into the National Anti-Corruption Directorate, was a necessity of the post-December 1989 Romanian society’s history. Romanian citizens were disappointed because the country was captive to some networks that would embezzle public resources and also endanger the country’s joining the EU. The anti-corruption fight was an essential condition for the completion of the accession process and is a determining factor for maintaining our European path and the development of Romanian society,” said Bologa on DNA’s 20th anniversary.
He added that the results of the institution he leads were important to Romania’s accession to the European Union.
“Throughout its existence, the National Anti-Corruption Directorate has had both better and harder times, but it has always been efficient, becoming a model of an organisation and operation for other anti-corruption bodies in various countries of the world. The obstacles encountered have not brought us down, but made us stronger. And, as a result of our activity, Romania has got access to European funds, billions of euros, and financial resources of similar proportions were saved for national budget. (.. .) Our activity is proof of our patriotism. We can assure the citizens of Romania that DNA is strong and will not take steps back its fight against corruption.”
15,000 people sent to court, damage of 5.4 billion euros
The National Anti-corruption Directorate (DNA) has sent to court, in its 20 years of activity, approximately 15,000 people accused of corruption, who caused a total damage of 5.4 billion euros.
According to the DNA activity report, among the persons referred to justice are 400 mayors, 800 directors of public institutions and national companies, 160 prosecutors and judges, 60 members of the Government (two prime ministers, ministers, secretaries of state), 40 presidents of county council and 1,000 policemen.
Among others, 2,300 defendants were sent to court for fraud with European funds, with a total damage of 300 million euros.
Also, DNA prosecutors instituted seizures for the recovery of damage resulting from crimes in the amount of over 4 billion euros.
In the last 10 years, the total value of goods given, offered, requested or received as bribes in the files sent to court amounts to approximately 1 billion euros.
Currently, the DNA claims that it is investigating files with damages estimated at 4 billion euros.
Other landmarks of the DNA history:
* 30 million euros – the largest bribe seized in a case of major corruption regarding public procurement;
* 60 million euros – the highest amount of damages awarded by a final decision of a court in a case drawn up by the DNA. It is about the case of the fraudulent privatization of ICA, in which Dan Voiculescu was convicted;
* 22 million euros – the largest amount confiscated by a final decision in a high-level corruption case;
* 15 years and 8 months – the highest sentence applied by the court in a corruption case instrumented by the DNA.
President Iohannis: DNA has become a model at the European level for a provider of expertise and best practices in the fight against corruption
President Klaus Iohannis said on Tuesday that Romania’s National Anti-Corruption Directorate (DNA) has made great progress, becoming a model at the European level for a provider of expertise and best practices in the fight against corruption, although its journey was not free of obstacles, setbacks or specific failures that have to be assessed objectively.
“With inherently timid beginnings and marked by status clarifications, organisational difficulties or sometimes difficulties related to the lack of political will to secure the operation of this institution, the National Anti-Corruption Directorate has made great progress, becoming a model at European level for a provider of expertise and best practices in the fight against corruption. However, DNA’s journey was not without obstacles, setbacks or even occasional failures. They must be assessed honestly, objectively, because that is the only way to learn from the lessons of the past, always keeping in mind the objective of a constant improvements of activity, in the service of society and the common good,” Iohannis told a “20 years of fight against corruption” event organised by DNA in Bucharest.
He added that a society in which corruption is rigorously fought against, which has checks and balance mechanisms, in which the responsibility of decision-makers towards citizens is real or in which the feeling that no one is above the law is widespread, represents a strong and stable society.
“The fight against corruption is synonymous with the fight for the better society we want. It should not be the exclusive prerogative of an institution, but a joint commitment of all decision-makers. In this joint effort, the action of your institution is crucial for the modernisation of the state and for the prevention and removal of behaviours that risk slowing down or even blocking its development,” said Iohannis.
He added that by its results through the sustained effort of the prosecutors and the entire DNA staff, the institution has become a landmark in the region and in Europe.
“The reports of the Co-operation and Verification Mechanism have always highlighted the gradual progress achieved in the field, but also the shortcomings or the objectives whose fulfillment stalled. I am convinced that without the decisive contribution of the National Anti-Corruption Directorate in combatting high-level corruption and systemic corruption, Romanian society would have looked completely different today. Romania is now a pole of stability in the region and a strategic partner for our partners inside NATO and the European Union.”
Iohannis said that the establishment of the National Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office, which later became the DNA, represented “a first signal of Romania taking up the fight against corruption at the highest level and in the long term.”
“During all these years, our country has changed radically, by developing its institutional capacity, by increasing the level of transparency and integrity in the public sector and by the economic and democratic transformation it has experienced. Mentalities have also changed, and the Romanian society no longer tolerates the lack of fairness in public life,” said Iohannis.
Reform of justice laws must be completed in accordance with recommendations of European bodies
President Klaus Iohannis also declared on Tuesday that a clear, coherent legislation is needed to guarantee the independence of the judiciary and to create the necessary mechanisms for the proper functioning of the prosecutor’s offices.
He also stated that the reform of justice laws must be completed in accordance with the recommendations of European bodies.
“In order for your work to have the echo expected by society, a clear, coherent legislation is needed, which guarantees the independence of the judiciary and creates the necessary mechanisms for the proper functioning of the prosecutor’s offices. Furthermore, the reform of the justice laws must be completed in accordance with the recommendations of the European bodies. The coincidence makes this anniversary moment of the National Anti-corruption Directorate (DNA) take place during the period when Parliament debates the draft laws of justice, proposed by the Government in August, after a complex process of drawing up, based on public consultations, with the judicial system and with the European Commission. The result of the parliamentary debates must meet the desiderata I mentioned. At the same time, there is a need for sufficient, qualified human resources and budget allocations that allow the activity to be carried out under optimal conditions, these also constituting objectives assumed by Romania through the National Recovery and Resilience Plan,” the head of state told the event “20 Years of Fight against Corruption,” organized by DNA at the National Military Club.
President Iohannis specified that the restriction of DNA’s competence by taking over some powers from the Section for the investigation of judicial crimes, the legislation lacking predictability, the absence of a “real dialogue” within the judicial system or decisions of the constitutional court with an impact on the instrumented files are some aspects that influenced the institution’s activity and results.
The head of state emphasized that, with each step taken in the fight against corruption at all levels, Romania is closer to concluding the CVM, joining the Schengen area and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
The President reiterated that the fight against corruption was and remains an objective of his mandates.
“In this complicated period, we need more than ever a functional state, where the authorities collaborate in the spirit of constitutional loyalty, honest politicians and civil servants, a solid culture of integrity, including in the private sector, and the promotion of European values,” the head of state also said.
Prosecutor Kovesi: DNA proves what it means to be an independent institution
The former head of DNA (National Anti-corruption Directorate), currently chief prosecutor at the European Public Prosecutor’s Office, Laura Codruta Kovesi, says that DNA has proven that it’s an independent institution and thanks its employees for showing courage and not giving up.
“During the 20 years, DNA has shown what it means to be an independent institution. Investigations were carried out against people who seemed untouchable and it was proven that the law is equal for everyone. You made the Romanians proud, you made them believe in the country’s institutions, you made them believe in the rule of law. Through your work, you would contribute to changing mentalities, to sensitizing society about the seriousness of the corruption phenomenon,” Kovesi said, on Tuesday, in a message sent on the occasion of the 20th anniversary since the establishment of the National Anti-corruption Directorate (DNA).
She thanked her former collaborators, stating that “an institution is only as strong as the people who make it work.”
“I remember the years we worked together in DNA. A lot of work, difficult times, we were subjected to constant attacks because of our investigations, but we continued with professionalism and consistency. This was the best answer, they gave us made stronger. Today, I want to thank all of you for your solidarity, courage and determination, for not giving up. An institution is as strong as the people who make it work. You are generous hearts, bright minds, brave and strong. It is a privilege of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office to work with you. Oh yes, I think I can make that comparison and I think you must be very proud. In my day-to-day work at the EPPO I have the same determination and the same determination, the same spirit we had when we worked together in DNA.
Compiled from Agerpres