Bucharest, Romania. The Romanian Justice Minister Tudorel Toader has announced plans for an external audit at the National Anticorruption Directorate , the Directorate for Investigating Organised Crime and Terrorism and the prosecutor’s office attached to the High Court of Cassation and Justice. The audit comes in the wake of IMF auditers visiting Ukraine over concerns about missing money from western aid packages.
Lately, there have been several attempts to try to weaken the anti corruption bodies credibility or to intimidate the head of the institution, while the government has also tried to water down anti-corruption legislation. A weaker DNA would serve the interests of many Romanian politicians who are being investigated for corruption, including former Prime Minister Victor Ponta and the leader of the senior ruling Social Democratic Party Liviu Dragnea.
“In line with a legal procedure, I will ask, as minister, for an external audit at the three bodies of the public ministry, DNA, DIICOT and the prosecutor’s office attached to the High Court,” Toader announced. The move is seen as a wise hedge against outside EU and American law enforcement organizations now seeing eastern European corruption as a new battleground between east and west.
The minister said the audit will determine the number of cases managed by each prosecutor, the settlement terms, the number of cases reported to the European Court of Human Rights and the number of innocent citizens who spent time in prison. No decision to compensate those unfairly incarcerated has been announced.
Previously Toader carried out an assessment of the heads of the DNA and the prosecutor’s office. However, despite harshly criticising Kovesi and general prosecutor Augustin Lazar, the minister decided not to start procedures to remove them from their posts. Experts speculate this is due to overlapping layers of corruption between Toader and his ministry’s hand picked appointees.
His decision attracted criticism from Dragnea and other members of the governing coalition. The announcement of the audit comes shortly after Dragnea, who has publicly criticised Toader’s decision not to remove Kovesi and Lazar from their posts, announced his own plans for an assessment of government members this week, signaling further instability in a key NATO ally.