15 Mar 2011

Spree of Corruption Arrests at the Romanian Borders

In just one week, 150 custom officers from Siret, Caras Severin and Timis were arrested for 29 days, pending trial. At the same time, a 130,000 Euro bribe in exchange of an appointment as a custom officer led to the dismissal the head of the Halmeu custom, Mr Radu Marginean. Former Interior Minister, Mr Vasile Blaga declared he fully trusts the person he appointed and strongly believes he is innocent, despite having been indicted by national anti-corruption prosecutors.

Border guards and customs officers are accused of receiving bribes as part of an organized criminal group. After being monitored for about six months, anti-corruption prosecutors conducted home searches, establishing the modus operandi of those who protected cigarettes smugglers in exchange of certain amounts of money.

According to a press release of the National Anti-Corruption Agency (DNA) at the Siret customs the price for smuggling 30 packs of cigarettes was around 35 Euro. The sums received by officers per shift ranged between 200 to 600 Euro, given that a shift was covered 10-12 officers, stated the DNA press release (February 4, 2011).

Police escorting shipments of smuggled cigarettes

Other 91 border police and customs officials at the border with Serbia were arrested. They were accused of receiving bribes in the form of continued support and as part of an organized criminal group, for allowing cigarettes to be smuggled from Serbia through the Romanian state border. Moreover, after the cigarettes reached Romania, some police chiefs escorted the shipment to storage sites.

Source: www.romaniacurata.ro. Excerpt from “Mita generalizata pe viitoarea frontiera Schengen”, by Virgil Burta, published on Debruary 11, 2011 [in Romanian].