Former Romanian anti-corruption chief banned from leaving the country

Former Romanian anti-corruption chief banned from leaving the country
By bne IntelliNews March 29, 2019

The former head of Romania’s National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) Laura Codruţa Kovesi has been placed under judicial control by the prosecutors of the Magistrates' Investigation Section. The former DNA chief has been banned from leaving the country.

The move was taken as Kovesi — a persistent thorn in the side of Romania’s ruling coalition until her removal from the post last year — has been selected as one of the two candidates for the European chief public prosecutor position. 

The European Parliament's Conference of Presidents endorsed Kovesi’s nomination for the role of European chief prosecutor on March 7. The same day, Kovesi said she had been informed she was accused of having led an organised group of DNA prosecutors who sent an unnamed person to trial. 

The former DNA head was interviewed for about six and a half hours at the magistrates' investigation section on March 28, and on exiting announced that the case prosecutor forbade her to talk to the press about what had happened at the hearings and about the case over which she was summoned .

"I cannot say anything, it's a measure to shut my mouth," Kovesi said.

The head of Romania’s special section for investigating magistrates, Adina Florea, confirmed on February 14 that Kovesi is under investigation.

The case targeting Kovesi was opened following a complaint filed by fugitive businessman Sebastian Ghita in December 2018, Florea added.

Ghita claimed that Kovesi persuaded him to help finance the extradition of man convicted for fraud from Indonesia with €68,000, in exchange for what he implied would be protection against investigations. Ghita admitted that the Romanian police paid part of the extradition cost. Ghita, who fled to Serbia in December 2016, amid several corruption investigations targeting him, filed a denouncement against Kovesi in early December 2018.

The decision to place Kovesi under judicial control drew criticism from Brussels, where officials have been increasingly critical of the Romanian government’s efforts to undermine the anti-corruption fight. 

"Concerned by news that Laura Codruţa Kovesi has been placed under judicial control. @Europarl_EN stands by its candidate for European Public Prosecutor. I'll raise the issue at the EP group leaders' meeting next Wednesday," European Parliament president Antonio Tajani tweeted on March 29.