Romanian lawmakers vote to defend former finance minister suspected of corruption - comment

By bne IntelliNews March 11, 2014

Romanian lawmakers in the chamber of deputies voted against a prosecutors’ request on Tuesday, March 11, thus barring any further investigation into the alleged criminal deeds of former finance minister Daniel Chitoiu, Ziarul Financiar daily reported. Notably, Chitoiu is not a member of the ruling majority any more [he was until recently] – but he still benefits from the lawmakers’ solidarity against prosecutors.

The lawmakers’ opposition to further investigations is a very negative indication for the political resistance to further judicial reforms. The ruling leftist PSD party gaining full control in power already resulted in a tense climate for further reforms, but PSD winning the presidential elections would create real problems for the whole process.

In the same case, a court accepted the prosecutors’ demand to put in police custody the former head of the financial supervisory body ASF - Dan Radu Rusanu. Since Rusanu is not a member of the parliament, he could not benefit of the enhanced immunity that keeps Chitoiu out of the prosecutors’ reach.

Both Chitoiu and Rusanu have allegedly cooperated in order to favour one specific insurance firm – Carpatica, by adjusting ASF's functioning act under a bill drafted by the latter and enacted by the former.

The lawmakers’ vote against the prosecutors’ investigations is likely to generate protests from the civic society as well as a diplomatic pressure from peer EU countries. The case will probably be included in the EC’s report drafted under the cooperation and verification mechanism [CVM - a post accession instrument dedicated to judicial reforms] and will further deteriorate the credibility of the parliament and the political parties. Even though probably lawmakers from all parties defended Chitoiu [the voting was secret], the parties that will lose the most in terms of credibility are those currently governing - meaning mainly leftist PSD.

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