The former head of the Permanent Electoral Authority, Ana Maria Patru, has been taken into custody, pending trial/ The macroeconomic balance secured by great effort in Romania must be preserved, the central bank governor Mugur Isarescu warns once again
ARREST – The former head of the Permanent Electoral Authority in Romania, Ana Maria Patru, on Wednesday was taken into custody, pending trial, in a file in which she is accused of influence peddling and money laundering. According to the anti-corruption prosecutors, she allegedly demanded and received over 200,000 euros in bribe, in exchange for implementing IT procurement contracts with a particular company, and tried to conceal the source of the money by setting up a fictitious circuit. Ana Maria Patru announced her resignation as head of the Permanent Electoral Authority.
VERDICT – The ex-MEP Adrian Severin on Wednesday was sentenced to four-year imprisonment, in a final ruling issued by the High Court of Cassation and Justice in Bucharest. Anti-corruption prosecutors requested penalties of 6 and a half years for bribe taking and 5 years for influence peddling. Adrian Severin was accused of having accepted the 100,000 euros per year promised by two journalists from "The Sunday Times", who were running an undercover investigation, in exchange for submitting amendments in the specialised committees of the European Parliament. Two other MEPs, from Slovenia and Austria, also accepted to sell their services to The Sunday Times journalists. Unlike Adrian Severin, they resigned following this corruption scandal.
ECONOMY - In Romania, the hard-won macroeconomic balance must be preserved, the governor of the National Bank of Romania Mugur Isarescu warned once again. The central bank official says that in spite of Romania’s economic growth, encouraging demand and consumption has created jobs in other countries rather than in Romania, given that the demand has been primarily met by imports, which are going up at a much faster rate than exports. Financial-banking analysts estimate that Romania needs a 5% annual growth rate for a long period if it is to recover its development delays compared to Western Europe.
DIPLOMACY – US acting president, Democrat Barack Obama, on Wednesday reiterated the United States’ commitments to its European allies, amidst fears that his successor, right-wing populist Donald Trump, is a threat to democracy, international news agencies report. In a speech delivered in Athens, President Barack Obama said he and President-elect Donald Trump "could not be more different" but he added that American democracy is bigger than any one person. He also said that now, more than ever, the world needs a democratic Europe. In the following days, Obama will meet German chancellor Angela Merkel, French president, Francois Hollande, and the Prime Ministers of Great Britain and Italy, Theresa May and Matteo Renzi, respectively. Afterwards, Obama will travel to Peru, to attend the Asia-Pacific Cooperation Summit. His successor at the White House, Donald Trump, will take over his mandate on January 20, 2017.
INVESTIGATION – Romania’s technocratic PM, Dacian Ciolos, on Wednesday sacked state secretary Adrian Sanda, the head of the Secretariat for recognising the merits of the fighters against the communist regime, in the 1945-1989 period. Also on Wednesday, prosecutors and police conducted more than 20 house searches in several counties in Romania, in a case concerning the status of fighter with a determining role in the 1989 Revolution. The investigation is conducted by the Prosecutor’s Office attached to the High Court of Cassation and Justice, and targets offences like aggravated abuse of office, influence peddling, and forgery of private documents. According to official statistics, in the December 1989 anti-communist revolution, 1,100 people died and over 3,000 were wounded.
SURVEY - 29% of the Romanian household owners choose to give bribe in order to have easier access to public services, this being the highest percentage registered in the whole of the EU, a report issued by Transparency International shows. According to the survey, young people in Romania are mainly requesting a social organisation of the public and business environments, so that access to services and careers no longer be conditioned by the existence of a mechanism of relations. In another move, the report also underlines that public institutions and private companies do not generate a real integrity environment. Civil society in Romania should move on to a new type of approach, in order to enjoy the support of the public at large in the fight against corruption, the report also shows.
BOOK FAIR – Bucharest is hosting until Sunday the 23rd Gaudeamus International Book and Education Fair, the longest-lived and most dynamic book fair in Romania, organised by Radio Romania. The highlights of this year’s fair include events devoted to the Romanian film industry, attended by the directors Cristian Mungiu and Radu Jude, and some of the most recent international releases launched in their Romanian version. This year’s guest of honour is China. During its 96 editions in various Romanian cities in 20 years of existence, the fair has brought together more than 2,600,000 visitors and some 10,500 special events. (Translated by D. Vijeu)