11 September 2018

President Klaus Iohann removed Laura Codruta Kovesi from the post of anti-corruption prosecutor. A statement released by the Constitutional Court said that president Iohannis must remove DNA chief prosecutor Kovesi from her position. The six out of nine CCR judges voted for her removal.

Justice minister Tudorel Toader had accused Kovesi of exercising excess of authority, discretionary behaviour, defying the activity of the Parliament and challenging the decisions of the Constitutional Court and its authority. The Judicial Inspection has started a disciplinary action against Kovesi and her deputy Marius Iacob. Irish Times reported.

Romania’s justice minister nominated a little-known regional official, Adina Florea, a prosecutor in the port town of Constanta, to replace Kovesi.  Florea wrote the DNA has operated at times in a “dysfunctional” way. She accused some prosecutors of illegal activities in pursuing cases.

Kovesi was praised by the European Union for her efforts to convict high-level politicians. Under Kovesi, the anti-corruption agency had investigated lawmakers, ministers and mayors, exposing conflicts of interest, abuse of power, fraud and awarding of state contracts in exchange for bribes.

The removal of Kovesi is an obvious attempt by a corrupt government to keep itself in power. This is very much against the wishes of the European Union, of which Romania is a member. Her removal may undermine anti-graft policies and could leave prosecutors exposed to political interference. EU believes that several east European countries are putting their courts under political control and weakening the rule od law.

Liviu Nicolae Dragnea, the leader of the ruling Social Democratic Party (PSD), may be behind the ouster of Kovesi. In May 2015 he was convicted in a case involving electoral fraud.  He was convicted on 21 June 2018 by the High Court of Cassation and Justice for incitement to abuse of office as chairman of the Teleorman County Council. He was given a prison sentence of 3 years and 6 months.

During his first term as Teleorman county council president, the council privatised a state construction firm at a very low price. Dragnea’s personal driver won it at an auction. Dragnea awarded the firm many public contracts for road construction, some of these being considered overvalued. He purchased a hotel for $27,000 and sold it for $1.3 million to his driver’s firm, before regaining the property. He could not have got the hotel so cheap if he had not used his influence.

Based on information compiled by the European Anti-Fraud Office, he is alleged to have involved in the fraudulent redirection of EU funds worth €20 million.