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What the newspapers say: February 14, 2011

de A.C.     HotNews.ro
Luni, 14 februarie 2011, 9:57 English | Press Review

There’s no love story between prosecutors and customs and police officers arrested in the corruption scandal across Romania’s customs. Romania’s General Prosecutor Kovesi explains the procedure followed by prosecutors in cases in which those investigated gained tremendous wealth from bribes. Budgetaries’ union leader Vasile Marica presumably received 20,000 dollars from a customs officer. Last but not least, in an interview for one newspaper President Basescu says that union leaders of customs and police officers know more than they say but that those retained can prove that “the queen is among union leaders”.  

Over 100 customs and police officers were arrested in the corruption scandal at customs across the country, accused of bribe taking, Gandul reads. Judicial practice in Romania shows that judges give smaller sentences, most of the times with suspension options for bribe taking. 

Sums received as bribe are at least impressive and anti-graft prosecutors claim that one shift at a customs would get even 100,000 euro. The newspaper reads that customs and police officers used the bribe money to build themselves huge villas. Romania’s General Prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi explains for the newspaper the procedure followed by prosecutors in cases in which those investigated acquired impressive wealth from brie taking. 

Prosecutors have the right to cease wealth on the names of those investigated but have a lot more trouble in ceasing those goods which are not on their name, which is often the case and the latter place their wealth on the names of their family. Kovesi said that unless prosecutors can prove that the goods were made with bribe money, they cannot touch any wealth on the names of the relatives. 

If the wealth is in the name of a relative, who does not hold a public function she cannot be compelled to prove where the money came from. She is protected by a presumption in the Constitution that reads that the first presumption is that a person obtained its wealth legally.  

The richest men arrested are those from the Siret customs, according to their wealth declarations. Chief agent Mihai Tocila, who earns a salary of 2,000 ron/month built a two storey building in Siret. Nearby, another customs officer built a similar house in less than a year.  

Bribe taking is usually sentenced with prison from 3 to 12 years and if the deed is committed by a public servant with control attributions, the sentence is 3 to 15 years. In the same scandal, the name of union leader Vasile Marica appeared, blamed of receiving 20,000 dollars, Evenimentul Zilei reads. 

The newspaper reads that a customs officer offered 20,000 dollars to buy her position money that got to Marica. However, the union leader denies the information and says that he knows the woman’s husband but he does not know her.  

Romania libera quotes President Basescu who declared that if those arrested would come out with the truth; they might prove that “the queen is among union leaders”. The President said that based on information received from secret services, in the six months of surveillance there was no reference to any political party or politician but he admits that the investigation can have its surprises. 

The President says that positions in customs are made on political grounds as well and he does not exclude the possibility to have some politicians involved. However, the President was very clear in saying that there is a difference between offering money to be named in a position and offering each day a part of the bribes received by customs. 

About Democratic Liberal Party elections on May 14, the President explains that the position of party president needs to be distinct from that of Prime Minister and the new leadership should include Monica Macovei, Voinescu, Preda, Ungureanu and Baconschi (all reformists).


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