The former Minister of Environment, Waters and Forests in the previous Liberal Government in Bucharest, Costel Alexe, is being targeted by a corruption investigation. President Klaus Iohannis has approved the request of the National Anticorruption Directorate that Alexe be prosecuted, a mandatory procedural step in the case of high dignitaries.
Costel Alexe served as Minister of Environment for a year, between November 2019 and November 2020, and is currently head of the Iasi County Council, the most powerful stronghold of the Liberals in Moldova, which is a less developed province in eastern Romania, politically controlled by the Social - Democrats.
According to the National Anticorruption Directorate, Alexe is suspected of bribe-taking and instigating the crime of embezzlement. Anticorruption prosecutors claim that there is evidence that give rise to a reasonable suspicion that, between March and April 2020, he allegedly directly claimed from the director of a steel plant products made of sheet metal in connection with the performance of his duties; they concern the free allocation of greenhouse gas emission allowances to the plant and the monitoring of the measures taken by it to close a non-compliant landfill.
According to the investigators, the said benefits, in the amount of 22 tons and having a value of 103,000 lei (over 20,000 euros), were allegedly received, in two instalments, at the working point of a company managed by a relative of his. Former Minister Costel Alexe stated, immediately after the announcement made by the Anticorruption Directorate, that he requested the approval of his criminal investigation, that he trusted the act of justice and that he wanted to see the action finalised as soon as possible.
"I did not ask for and did not take, in my entire public activity, undue benefits in violation of the law", said the Liberal leader in his defence. He promised not to make any public reference to the current situation of the judicial action, stressing that in the next period he would analyse the accusations brought against him and would fully and transparently cooperate with the judicial bodies. It is a delicate moment for the National Liberal Party, the number one in the new coalition government that settled in Bucharest at the end of last year, given that Alexe is not only the president of the County Council, but also the president of the Iasi branch of the party.
On the other hand, unlike their political opponents in the Social Democratic Party, the Liberals have not exposed themselves to public criticism by blocking, in Parliament or other procedural channels, the investigations targeting some of their own.
The most important thing, however, is that the National Anticorruption Directorate shows signs of life. The management was going through a period of lethargy after the departure from the leadership, against her own will, of Laura Codruţa Koveşi, who in the meantime has become the head of the European Prosecutor's Office. We recall that her revocation from the position of chief prosecutor of the Anticorruption Directorate, in July 2018, which President Iohannis had to do, forced by a decision of the Constitutional Court, was described as abusive by the European Court of Human Rights. (M. Ignatescu)