Corruption in Romania
||This article provides insufficient context for those unfamiliar with the subject. (February 2014)|
|Corruption by country|
|Oceania and the Pacific|
Despite some improvement, corruption remains a serious problem in Romania. Romanian law and regulations contain provisions intended to prevent corruption, but enforcement is generally weak. However, the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) continued to investigate and prosecute corruption cases involving medium- and high-level political, judicial, and administrative officials throughout 2014. Romania is widely regarded as one of the most corrupt country in the European Union, as revealed by the annual Corruption Perceptions Index conducted by Transparency International. Corruption was cited among many issues that provoked the 2012–14 social unrest.
Notable corruption cases
In 2014, 1,138 leading public figures, including top politicians, businessmen, judges and prosecutors, were convicted by the National Anticorruption Directorate. However, the number of court decisions on corruption cases has decreased in 2014, and the fact that 80% of convicted persons receive a suspended sentence remains a high proportion. Nevertheless, convictions 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.
Background and Extent
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 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.
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. The Commission also criticised Romania for failing to root out corruption and political influence in its state institutions. 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". This in turn means they can no longer be held to account for abuse of office, bribery, conflicts of interest and other corruption crimes. The amendments were sharply criticised by Romanian opposition parties and European leaders, while the Constitutional Court of Romania cataloged this move as unconstitutional. In the latest report from US Dep 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.
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.
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