Balance sheet: DNA efficiency last year, 10% better than in 2022

George Marinescu
English Section / 27 februarie

Photo source: facebook / Direcţia Natională Anticorupţie

Photo source: facebook / Direcţia Natională Anticorupţie

Versiunea în limba română

Plus 10% DNA could be the title of the activity report for the past year of the respective institution presented, yesterday, in a festive setting at the headquarters of the National Bank of Romania, by Chief Prosecutor Marius Voineag, if we take into account the fact that the number of resolved cases increased in 2023 by approximately 10% compared to 2022, i.e. 2259 cases were resolved compared to 2087. This should also be correlated with the situation of criminal cases previously sent to court, a situation which shows that in 2023 the courts ordered final acquittals in 10, 25% of the files, but also with the fact that in 144 criminal cases last year the judges ordered the termination of the criminal process as a result of the incidence of the limitation of criminal liability.

Marius Voineag, chief prosecutor of the DNA stated: "The topic of corruption is still in the foreground due to the impact this phenomenon has on the everyday life of citizens. Unfortunately, the costs of corruption remain unacceptably high for Romanian society. (...) In criminal investigations, we want to increase efficiency in the investigation of high-level corruption and the development of financial investigations to identify the proceeds of the crime and assets transferred to third parties or their equivalent that can be made unavailable. (...) Regarding this year's activity, I must state that we are fully aware that we have an electoral context and that there is a risk that whatever we do will be interpreted and cause controversy or discussion, but I assure you that the National Anti-Corruption Directorate will continue to have the same determination to combat the phenomenon of corruption. In the operative activity, we will continue to target cases of high corruption and priority areas, with a direct impact on the lives of citizens".

According to the balance sheet for the past year presented by the head of the DNA, we note that in 2023 651 defendants were sent to court, of which 43 defendants were under preventive measures depriving them of their liberty, compared to 22 defendants in 2022, which means an increase of 95.45% regarding the number of defendants sent to court when they were deprived in one way or another of their full freedom.

The cited document also shows that in terms of ensuring the deterrent effect through the recovery of criminal proceeds, in 2023 the anti-corruption prosecutors, last year succeeding in recovering criminal proceeds in the criminal investigation phase in a total amount of 123.16 million lei, which means an increase of 458, 55% compared to the year 2022.

The report also mentions the fact that DNA police officers were assigned to approximately 5,800 criminal cases, compared to 5,000 cases in 2022, the specialists drew up 30% more investigative reports, and the number of home searches increased from 847 to 1257, which indicates an increasing volume of operative activity.

In view of all the data above, Alina Gorghiu, the Minister of Justice, said: "The effective fight against corruption, the great corruption in Romania, was, is and will remain a topic of great interest for all of us, for the citizens of Romania, because in the end they are the beneficiaries of the steps taken by the prosecutors. The majority of reports still come from natural and legal persons, approximately 74% of all reports, which can demonstrate the maintenance of citizens' trust in DNA, but trust also comes with a great responsibility".

The Minister of Justice pleaded for the recovery of the damage caused by corruption crimes, so that they no longer exist in the public space, remarking "well, they also caught that one, a corrupt, scoundrel, he is serving years in prison but he knows that he stays with the stolen money".

Alina Gorghiu stated: "It's a remark that shows a common feeling among the public, often found in the public space, that's why I have to note the concern of DNA prosecutors for the application of precautionary measures and the recovery of criminal damage. I have seen that you have instituted measures in more than half of the cases. I encourage you to continue, especially since half of what is confiscated can go back into society in the form of crime prevention efforts or crime victim support."

And the statements of the Minister of Justice have coverage as long as we note from the DNA's last year's activity report that the total amount of damages in criminal cases under investigation in rem and in personam amounts to over 17.3 billion lei.

Cătălin Predoiu: "Administrative-fiscal corruption, as serious as political corruption"

His Cabinet colleague, Cătălin Predoiu - the Minister of Internal Affairs - asked the head of the DNA to also consider prioritizing the criminal investigation in "areas that have an impact on the state budget, which temporarily suffer because tax evasion is still practiced on a large scale and she is accompanied, invariably, of corruption".

The Minister of the Interior stated: "I find that we must pay equal attention to an area that I would call the administrative-financial oligarchy, i.e. a series of positions in the state administrative apparatus that are occupied for years by the same people, and some of them get the feeling of impunity. There are data, information certified by state institutions that we have corruption there, tax evasion favored by acts of administrative corruption, especially in the customs area, in the tax area in general, wherever money and financial values are handled. I think it should concern us to the same extent, at least, as we naturally should concern ourselves with political corruption. And the administrative-financial corruption is just as serious".

The President of the High Court of Cassation and Justice, judge Corina Corbu, recalled that although "over time there have been numerous interpretations of the relationship that must exist between (...) the High Court of Cassation and Justice and the National Anticorruption Directorate, as well as many interpretations of the words said about this relationship (...) in the institutional equation of the rule of law, the role of both institutions is strictly characterized by the constitutional and legal provisions that govern our activity, and the interaction between them occurs strictly within the limits of their own attributions ".

Mrs. Corbu specified that this legal reality does not exclude, but rather implies mutual respect and loyal administrative cooperation for the proper functioning of the judicial system, which can only be based on respect for the laws.

The president of the ÎCCJ also said: "Today's reality, perhaps better than ever, shows that acts of corruption also represent a major security risk for the citizens of a country. (...) Within the national legal order, the National Anticorruption Directorate has, according to the law, the obligation to fight the most dangerous forms of corruption, including high-level corruption and beyond assessments of any kind, the need for the proper functioning of the specialized structure is indubitable. Whether it's about financing, logistics, human resources, the law regulates clear obligations in this regard".

For his part, Alex Florenta, the Prosecutor General of Romania, Alex Florenta, said: "In a country where corruption has generated significant challenges for the progress of society, DNA represents a factor of stability and hope for all people of good faith. (...) Our support is not towards any person or political agenda, but towards the search for truth and justice, no matter where or to whom this search may lead".

The Covid-19 vaccine file - the most important DNA case in 2023

If we were to list the important cases completed last year by the anti-corruption prosecutors, the first place would be, by far, the beginning of the criminal investigation for the former Prime Minister Florin Cîţu, the former Ministers of Health Vlad Voiculescu and Ioana Mihăilă and the former Secretary of State Andrei Baciu in the file regarding the purchase of over 52.8 million doses of anti-Covid 19 vaccine, a purchase that would have damaged the state by over one billion euros, according to DNA.

Another famous case is the one in which the DNA Iaşi prosecutors caught the social democrat Dumitru Buzatu, former president of the Vaslui County Council, red-handed, when he received a bribe of 1.25 million euros. As a result, Dumitru Buzatu was pre-arrested, and later sent to court for bribery.

Among the presidents of county councils who are prosecuted by anti-corruption prosecutors is the liberal Iulian Dumitrescu, the president of the Prahova County Council, who, according to DNA, allegedly collected bribes through the bank accounts of his sister and brother-in-law.

DNA prosecutors opened several criminal files last year regarding officials and patrons who were on the line of granting operating permits to homes in which DIICOT discovered how the elderly were tortured and mistreated by those who were supposed to care for them. It is about the Houses of Horror scandal, after which Gabriela Firea - the Minister of the Family - and Marius Budăi - the Minister of Labor resigned from their positions.

The DNA targeted several officials from AJPIS Ilfov, against whom it opened criminal investigation files for acts of abuse of office and complicity in these acts. Public officials are being investigated for the way they conducted checks at some centers, where, according to evidence, they notified their patrons prior to the checks in order to quickly fix some existing problems.

It is also about corruption among public officials in the criminal investigation opened by the DNA after the tragedies of May 2, Crevedia, Odorheiu Secuiesc and Gura Vadului (at Ferma Dacilor), officials who performed their duties improperly in exchange for favors offered by some of the defendants in the respective cases, which led to the loss of several human lives, but also to the serious injury of several people.

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