Corruption in Romania

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Although there have been significant improvements, corruption remains a problem in Romania. Despite the fact that Romanian law and regulations have contained provisions intended to prevent corruption, enforcement has generally been weak until recently. This has however started to change since 2014, as the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) continued to increasingly investigate and prosecute corruption cases involving medium- and high-level political, judicial, and administrative officials.[1] As of 2016, Romania is regarded as the fifth most corrupt country in the European Union, after Bulgaria, Greece, and Italy, and at the same level with Hungary,[2] as revealed by the annual Corruption Perceptions Index conducted by Transparency International.[2] According to 2016 results of Corruption Perception Index of Transparency International, Romania ranks 57th place out of 176 countries.[3] Corruption was cited among many issues that provoked the 2012–15 social unrest, the 2015 protests after the Colectiv nightclub fire, and the 2017 protests.

Notable corruption cases[edit]

Corruption in Romania ranges from military, health care, church to low ranking bureaucrats and private businesses. Below is a list of notable corruption cases:

Anti-corruption drive[edit]

In 2014, 1,138 leading public figures, including top politicians, businessmen, judges and prosecutors, were indicted by the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA).[4] However, the number of court decisions on corruption cases has decreased in 2014, and 80% of indicted persons who received a suspended sentence remains however a high proportion. Nevertheless, the number of filed cases against high-level politicians and businessmen saw a significant increase, a shift in the anti-corruption drive that has continued into 2015 and has had a substantial social impact.

In 2015, 1,250 people were indicted by the DNA, including a Prime Minister, 5 ministers and 21 parliamentarians.[5] There have been 970 final convictions throughout the year.[5] The amount of damages recovered has increased to €431.6 million.[5]

In 2016, 1,270 people were indicted by the DNA, including 3 ministers, 17 parliamentarians, 47 mayors, 16 magistrates and 21 CEOs.[6] There have been 879 final convictions throughout the year.[5] The amount of damages recovered has increased to €667 million.[5]

Background and extent[edit]

Due to the EU accession, Romania has improved transparency and accountability in the public sector. However, citizens and businesses still consider the government's reform weak and slow due to poor implementation of laws on transparency of information and decision-making process. The judicial system is said[by whom?] to be ineffective in fighting against corruption. Public procurement procedures, especially at local level, remain exposed to corruption and conflicts of interests, a fact widely acknowledged by Romanian integrity and law enforcement authorities. This has had consequences for the absorption of EU funds. However, it is also true that there are many other factors here, including the administrative capacity of public purchasers, the lack of stability and fragmentation of the legal framework, and the quality of competition in public procurement.[7]

The image of Romania was badly affected by the 2012 political crisis, when the European Commission expressed concerns about the rule of law, pointing to the power struggle between Prime Minister Victor Ponta and President Traian Băsescu.[8][9] The Commission also criticised Romania for failing to root out corruption and political influence in its state institutions.[10] One year later, in December, the Chamber of Deputies passed, without parliamentary debate, several controversial amendments to the Penal Code, according to that the country's President, senators, members of the lower chamber, as well as lawyers, are no longer to be considered "public officials".[11][12] This in turn means they can no longer be held to account for abuse of office, bribery, conflicts of interest and other corruption crimes.[13] The amendments were sharply criticised by Romanian opposition parties and European leaders,[14] while the Constitutional Court of Romania cataloged this move as unconstitutional.[15] In the latest report from the US Department of State published in May 2015, corruption in Romania remains a serious problem despite some improvements. The Romanian government continues to use emergency measures to pass legislation, bypassing normal legislative procedures, including economic impact analyses and consultations with stakeholders. Corruption at all levels remains endemic and the country's leaders have not yet displayed a consistent political will necessary to effectively tackle this issue. Romanian law and regulations contain provisions intended to prevent corruption, but enforcement is generally weak. However, the National Anti-Corruption Directorate (DNA) continued to investigate and prosecute corruption cases involving medium and high-level political, judicial, and administrative officials throughout 2014. Conflicts of interest, respect for standards of ethical conduct, and integrity in public office in general remained a concern for all three branches of government. Individual executive agencies were slow in enforcing sanctions, and agencies' own inspection bodies were under-resourced.[16]

The fact that Ministers continue in office after indictment on criminal charges, and parliamentarians with final convictions for corruption to stay in office, raises broader issues about the attitudes towards corruption in the Romanian political world. The rejection of the amnesty law by the Parliament in November 2014 gave a positive signal in terms of opposing a law which would effectively result in exonerating individuals sentenced for corruption crimes. Nonetheless, the fact that only a week after this vote, the idea of a new draft law on collective amnesty was again floated in Parliament suggests that the debate has not been closed. The increase of activity also concerns cases of corruption within the magistracy, recognized as a particularly corrosive form of corruption. According to DNA, this high figure does not reflect an increase of corruption within the magistracy (although the scale of the phenomenon constitutes a cause of concern), but rather an increase in the number of signals from the public. Such cases are complex and a new special DNA unit has been established with this remit. In recent years, CVM (EU Commission's Co-operation and Verification Mechanism) reports have found it difficult to identify a track record in tackling cases of corruption in society at large. Risk assessment and internal controls are key areas for action. Some recent cases have shown substantial bribery cases which might have been identified earlier by careful scrutiny of the records, but which had to rely on a signal by a member of the public.[17]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "2015 Investment Climate Statement - Romania". The US Department of State. The US Department of State. Retrieved 17 August 2015. 
  2. ^ a b "Corruption Perceptions Index 2016". Transparency International. Retrieved 25 January 2017. 
  3. ^ "Corruption Perception Index 2016". 
  4. ^ "Romania anti-sleaze drive reaches elite". BBC News. 19 February 2015. 
  5. ^ a b c d e "Raport de activitate 2015". National Anticorruption Directorate. Retrieved 25 January 2017. 
  6. ^ "Raport de activitate 2016". National Anticorruption Directorate. Retrieved 3 May 2017. 
  7. ^ "Snapshot of the Romania Country Profile". Business Anti-Corruption Portal. GAN Integrity Solutions. Retrieved 17 November 2013. 
  8. ^ Andrew Gardner, Toby Vogel (11 July 2012). "Romanian power struggle alarms Europe's leaders". European Voice. 
  9. ^ Sam Cage, Luiza Ilie (22 November 2012). "Populism takes spotlight in Romania power struggle". Reuters. 
  10. ^ "EU Commission chides Romania over state corruption". BBC News. 18 July 2012. 
  11. ^ Raluca Besliu (18 January 2014). "Legally corrupt: Romanian politicians chase 'super-immunity'". Aljazeera. 
  12. ^ "Transparency International Romania statement on recent immunity decision by Chamber of Deputies". Transparency International. 12 December 2013. 
  13. ^ Valentina Pop (11 December 2013). "Romanian MPs decriminalise political corruption". EUobserver. 
  14. ^ Luiza Ilie (22 January 2013). "Romania parliament boosts criminal immunity, may irk EU". Reuters. 
  15. ^ Wendy Zeldin (23 January 2014). "Romania: Court Finds Immunity Law Unconstitutional". Library of Congress. 
  16. ^ "2015 Investment Climate Statement - Romania". US Department of State. Retrieved May 2015.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  17. ^ "Cooperation and Verification Mechanism". European Commission. Published 28 January 2015. 

External links[edit]

A world map of the 2016 Corruption Perceptions Index by Transparency International