Authorities in Bucharest are acting to recover the losses incurred by corruption and confiscate illegally obtained assets.
A senator and a
deputy were in the media spotlight on Monday. A former secretary general of the
Liberal Democratic Party and later the co-president of the Liberal Party,
senator Vasile Blaga was indicted for peddling in influence. According to
prosecutors, over 2011 and 2012, Blaga allegedly received from a company no
less than 700,000 euros to use his influence with a person holding a leadership
position at two state companies.
Also on Monday, the deputies were supposed to
vote on the lifting of the parliamentary immunity of their colleague Eugen
Bejinariu so that the National Anticorruption Directorate could start a
criminal investigation against him. A former secretary general in the Social
Democratic government in 2003 and 2004, deputy Bejinaru is accused of
aggravated abuse of office as part of a case known as Microsoft 2, in which a
50% discount granted by Microsoft for IT licences in schools was pocketed by
The case, in which former ministers and Microsoft Romania directors
are also under investigation, caused damage of 67 million euros. Bejinariu's
colleagues in the Social Democratic Party have asked him to resign from
Parliament, threatening to withdraw their political support, thinking no doubt
that Bejinariu is a liability so close to the parliamentary elections due in
less than two weeks' time. Bejinaru, has refused, saying he is innocent and
preferring instead to leave the Chamber of Deputies decide his fate. The vote,
however, did not take place on Monday, because of a lack of quorum. A new
voting session may be held next week.
All this goes to show that the fight
against high-level corruption continues, leading in recent years to many
convictions in some very important cases. Despite these achievements, political
commentators and civil society have often complained that not enough of the
losses caused by corruption have been recovered and not enough of the illegally
obtained assets confiscated. In theory, the confiscation of illegal assets may
discourage corruption more than a prison sentence.
According to the Justice
Minister Raluca Pruna, at the end of October, the state had confiscated assets
worth around 4 million euros. The money will go to a number of ministries and
non-governmental organisations, namely 20% to healthcare, another 20% to
education, 15% each to the finance, justice and interior ministries and another
15% to NGOs. Starting next year, the money obtained through confiscations will
be channelled into social projects. As the Justice Minister Raluca Pruna put
it, what we, society want, is to take back the stolen money!