Monitoring county councils on conflicts of interests and incompatibilities (2008)

This project proposal aimed at addressing the issue of the fight against corruption by the civil society after accession, with a particular focus on conflicts of interests and incompatibilities.

Conflicts of interest and incompatibilities lie at the heart of corruption as the latter is based on the infringement of the public interests and of the requirements of public office for goals regarding private interests and private positions.

Members of 9 local county councils and 32 presidents of local county councils were scrutinized for conflicts of interests and incompatibilities. At the end of the project, a report was created underlining the local administration corruption cases. The project had an advocacy component aimed at correcting the loopholes in the legislation or in the enforcement of the law.

The purpose of the project  was to monitor officials from a number of county councils and the presidents of all county councils in relation to incompatibilities and conflicts of interests. A total of 315 county council members from 9 counties were monitored on the two aspects, out of which 31 did not meet the integrity criteria. The situation of county council presidents was also assessed, and in 15 out of the 42 cases the integrity criteria were not met.
This project was continued before the first direct election of county council presidents, when 150 candidates were verified using the criteria designed for the Coalition for Clean Government project (namely, on corruption, conflicts of interests, political migration and collaboration with the secret police before 1989). Out of these, 54 were included on a “black list” for not meeting the integrity requirements imposed. In 9 of the counties, candidates appearing on the list of the Coalition lost the elections, even though they were considered favorites in the polls made public during the campaign. These 9 counties were Bihor, Bistrita-Nasaud, Botosani, Cluj, Galati, Giurgiu, Mehedinti, Timis si Tulcea.

Coalition for a Clean Parliament 2004

Alegeri locale şi generale

On the occasion of the legislative and presidential elections in November and December 2004, Romanian civil society organized itself for the first time into a broad coalition for integrity in politics: the Coalition for a Clean Parliament (CCP). Frustrated by the government’s lack of effectiveness in fighting large-scale corruption, civil society took matters into its own hands.

The CCP first determined the criteria that would make a candidate unfit for a clean parliament. These criteria were: 1) having repeatedly shifted from one political party to another in search of personal profit; 2) having been accused of corruption on the basis of published and verifiable evidence; 3) having been exposed as an agent of the Securitate (Ceauşescu’s former secret service); 4) being the owner of a private firm with important tax arrears to the state budget; 5) being unable to account for the discrepancy between one’s officially stated assets and one’s income; 6) turning a profit from conflicts of interest involving one’s public position. The second step was to discuss these criteria with the leadership of the political parties represented in the Parliament. The most important ones—the Social Democratic Party/Humanist Party of Romania coalition (PSD/PUR), the Justice and Truth Alliance (DA), and the Hungarian Democratic Union of Romania (UDMR)—agreed with the criteria and the process that we had designed, and they publicly announced their support for the CCP’s campaign.

Our third step was to gather information about the candidates of these parties. We collected material published in the press over the years and researched the websites of various public authorities in charge of financial and commercial matters. Then we double-checked our information. Our fourth step was to draw up lists of those candidates who met one or more of the agreed-upon criteria for being unfit to hold a seat in the future Parliament. The resulting “black lists”” were then sent to the political parties, with the request that they re-examine each case and decide whether to withdraw the candidate in question.

The CCP also offered to analyze any cases where individual candidates contested its findings. Step five consisted of the withdrawal by the political parties of significant numbers of their initial candidates. Some of the candidates appealed to the CCP, which approved or rejected their appeals and adjusted its lists accordingly. Our last step was to release the final CCP black lists in the form of nearly two million flyers, distributed in most of the 41 counties of Romania.

Coalition partners:

  • Agentia de Monitorizare a Presei – Academia Catavencu
  • Fundatia Freedom House
  • Centrul pentru Jurnalism Independent
  • Fundatia Dialog Social
  • Asociatia Pro Democratia
  • Alianta Civica
  • Asociatia pentru Apararea Drepturilor Omului in Romania – Comitetul Helsinki
  • Asociatia Revolutionarilor fara Privilegii
  • Liga Romana de Presa
  • Asociatia Studentilor la Facultatea de Stiinte Politice”

Coalition for a Clean Parliament – European Parliament Election 2007

Concept: fighting large-scale corruption by preventing the lack of information about the candidates for Members of Parliament; agreeing on criteria that make a candidate unfit for a clean Parliament with the leaders of the political parties; developing black-lists of the parties’ candidates in order to cleanse the candidate lists; making these lists public (website, flyers, press).
In the autumn of 2006 10 organizations decided to form the Coalition for a Clean Parliament – European elections. At the beginning of the year the formation of the coalition and the criteria used in the monitoring of the candidates were announced. The Coalition contacted all major political parties and negotiated the access to the preliminary list of candidates before the official announcement. The Coalition organized the network of journalists that collected and assembled the data. The preliminary findings have been discussed with all parties. Given the changes of the electoral system and the evolutions of the political scene in recent years, the organizations forming the Coalition for Clean Parliament have decided to resume the monitoring of the political representatives using a new methodology. Therefore, the coalition deemed that it was not sufficient for a candidate to merely meet a set of integrity requirements, but that dignitaries should also seek to serve public interest and respect the rule of law. Before the parliamentary elections of 2008, the Coalition designed a set of instruments that were better suited to capture this perspective:
– a Pact for the Rule of Law – politicians were presented with a document with several key points they should commit to respect during office;
– monitoring political migration, defined as changing formal party allegiance (more than twice);
– monitoring of the manner in which those in office between 2004 and 2008 had voted on a series of issues and laws considered by the Coalition as particularly important for the rule of law.
The results of these monitoring activities were published on the “Clean Romania” website, which was thus transformed into a resource site for anticorruption advocacy.

Magistrates’ perceptions regarding the independence of the system of justice 2006

The goal of the project was to identify and evaluate the perceptions of magistrates regarding their degree of professional independence, as well as the causes and circumstances with negatively or positively influence the independence of justice. The research aimed to be the starting point of efficient measures to consolidate magistrates’ independence and level of responsibility, and to eliminate those negative aspects currently manifest within the Romanian justice system. The project was developed at the request of the Superior Council of Magistracy.

First Step in Europe

The goal of this project was to ensure the fairness of the elections for the European Parliament (EP) in Romania, scheduled for November 25th, 2007. It did so through a thorough monitoring of all the institutions involved in the campaign, including the political parties and official authorities handling the campaign. Moreover, it wished to bring an international and particularly European view on the development of the campaign and the elections.

Coalition for Clean Universities

The CCU project was created as an exercise of watchdog and benchmarking, meant to give a complete image of the academic integrity in Romania.

The project developed an integrity ranking for Romanian state universities by applying an already tested methodology was used in a pilot phase of the same project (October 2007-May 2008, funded by a MATRA-KAP Grant of the Embassy of Netherlands in Bucharest).

External evaluators were selected for monitoring the integrity and transparency of the universities. The project started by mapping out the problems of integrity that exist in the Romanian higher education system, and classified them by categories.

  • the administrative transparency and probity – the publication of accounting documents; publishing income declarations and declarations of interests and those reflecting the status of not being involved in the communist political police; access to public records on acquisitions;
  • academic fairness – plagiarism, performance in research, academic unfolding process;
  • quality of governance – nepotism, involvement of students in decision making, usage of financial grants, filling teaching positions;
  • financial management – discretionary expenditure, managing public acquisitions processes.
  • 42 state universities were evaluated, out of a total of 56, during 3 months. At the end of this programme, the Coalition published the Integrity ranking of Romanian Universities.

The project received the support of the main stakeholders: The Ministry of Education, Research and Youth, Students’ Organisations (ANOSR), Trade Union (Alma Mater), The National Agency for Quality Evaluation in Higher Education (ARACIS), educational NGOs.
The Coalition for Clean Universities is composed of the following:

  • Centre for Independent Journalism (CJI),
  • Pro Democracy Association (APD),
  • Euroregional Centre for Democracy (CED),
  • National Association of Students Organizations from Romania (ANOSR),
  • The Group for Reform in Universities (GRU)
  • Group for Social Dialogue (GDS)
  • Romanian Academic Society (SAR)
  • University Solidarity Association (SU)
  • EduCer Association (EduCer)
  • Ad-Astra Association (Ad Astra)
  • Romanian Society of Political Science (SRSP)
  • FAR Association (FAR)
  • New Europe College Foundation (NEC)

Participation and integrity in local budgets 2004

 

The project aimed to increase transparency and integrity in public budget design and implementation, and to encourage participation of local civil society in community issues.

TI Romania delivered training to local civil society organizations, evaluated community priorities in regard to the local budget, evaluated the relationship between the local civilian and business communities and the administration, wrote the good practices guide and organized round tables with all stakeholders to debate on the negative and positive aspects of the situation and incorporated observations and suggestions for improving the way in which the administration-citizens relationship functions.

Outcomes

  • Training instruments for civil society organizations;
  • Guide to monitoring public budget implementation;
  • Evaluations of transparency and integrity focusing on public acquisitions and mechanisms to grant authorizations/licenses for business activities;
  • Good practices guide containing recommendations on how to address deficiencies noted during the project.
Budget:

            £ 73,944

Romanian Judge Accused of Selling Verdicts

Romanian Supreme Court judge Gabriela Barsan has been investigated by prosecutors under the suspicion of receiving gifts such as jewelry and vacations in return for favorable verdicts. Last weekend investigators conducted a search a her home and confiscated a computer and some documents.

Following the search, her husband, Corneliu Barsan, who is a judge at the European Court of Human Rights, attempted to use his position to hinder the investigation against his wife, in that he claimed that the search violated the Vienna Convention, applicable to international officials. However, his argument was not successful at the Romanian Supreme Court, which decided yesterday to reject his claims and maintain that the search was legal.

Corruption is one of the issues that keeps Romania under close monitoring from European Union institutions, and has also been a main reason behind Romania’s denied admission to the European Schengen agreement.

Read the full article Romanian Judge Denied Immunity on reportingproject.net. The picture shown above is from freedomsphoenix.com.

Former Romanian Labor Minister and Mp Acquitted of Corruption Charges

A former Romanian Labor Minister, Paul Pacuraru (pictured here) – who was in office between April 2007 and September 2008 – and a former Romanian MP, Dan Ilie Morega, were acquitted of accusations of corruption stemming back to December 2008 on Wednesday.

Prosecutors had accused Mr. Morega of offering to help Mr. Pacuraru’s son win public contracts in exchange for Mr. Pacuraru appointing a specific person as the Chief Inspector of the Gorj County Labor Inspectorate.

For the original article from Mediafax, please click here.

Please note that the photo of Mr. Pacuraru is from a previous article by Mediafax and is copyrighted by the Romanian Press.

Monica Iacob Ridzi Indicted for Youth Day Event Corruption

Anti-corruption investigators in Romania have indicted Monica Iacob Ridzi (pictured here), the former Romanian Youth Minister, for abuse of service against the public interest and intellectual fraud with events related to the 2009 Youth Day celebrations in Romania.

The investgation against Ms. Ridzi was launched after reports by a daily sports magazine surfaced shortly after the Youth Day events stating that Ms. Ridzi had awarded contracts to private companies from the 600,000-euro budget without a public tender.

For more information on the story, please see Hotnews.ro and Mediafax‘s website(s).

Please note that the picture of Ms. Ridzi comes from the Hotnews.ro site.

Romanian Businessman Arrested in Hungary

Romanian businessman Dinel Nutu (formerly known as Staicu, pictured here) was handed over to Romanian authorities today by Hungarian police officers after having fled Romania after being convicted for being an accessory to the abuse of office and being sentenced to a prison sentence of seven years.

Mr. Nutu was apprehended by the Hungarian authorities on April 19th on the basis of a European Arrrest Warrant that was issued by a Bucharest court. Mr. Nutu was convicted in connection with his role in the bankrupty of the Bank of Religions (BIR).

For the original story from Mediafax.ro (also in Romanian), please click here.

Please note that the photo of Mr. Nutu also comes from the Mediafax site.

62 Romanian Border Police Officers Indicted for Corruption

62 Romanian Border Patrol Officers and 4 Customs Officials were indicted by Romanian anti-corruption prosecutors from a northern border crossing on Wednesday. The 66 officials are accused of soliciting and/or accepting bribes amount to approximately 893,740 euros between September 2010 and January 2011.

A total of 49 of the 66 indicted persons are currently in custody, with the other 17 still at large.

For the original articles, please see the sites of Mediafax.ro and Hotnews.ro.

Please note that the photo from this article comes from Mediafax’s version of the article.

Romania’s Anti-Corruption Department to Investigate Mep Adrian Severin

Romania’s Anti-Corruption Department has announced that it will take all possible legal steps in order to investigate the corruption scandal involving MEP Adrian Severin, including stripping him of immunity.

Responding to a MEDIAFAX inquiry, the DNA has announced that the Prosecutor General’s Office and the Ministry of Justice are both looking into the case of Mr. Severin. The initial inquiry into the corruption charges brought about against Mr. Severin first began on March 21st, after national and international media brought the corruption scandal to light.

For the original article from Mediafax, please click here.

The picture of Mr. Severin above also comes from the same story from Mediafax.

Six Romanians in Airport Management Indicted for Fraud

Six employees of Bucharest’s Baneasa Airport, including four managers, were indicted last Friday by Romanian prosecutors for fraud in dealing with a contract to repair the airport’s runways, inducing losses of approximately 5.8 million euros.

The contract for the repairs dates back to 2007 but was amended with a new formula to calculate compensation – one that was incompatible with the legal provisions for this type of work – resulting in losses to both the airport and the state budget (taxpayers).

The accused include Florin Paul Fulger, the airport company’s general manager (and later technical manager), Luliana Pop, the economic manager, and Dorian Vlasceanu, legal counsel, along with three others for related crimes.

Please click the appropriate links for the original article from Mediafax.ro (English) or EVZ.RO (Romanian)

Romanian Media Mogul Threatens Tv Board Members With Death

In a disagreement with the Board of Asesoft (owners of Realitatea TV in Romania) over additions to a management contract, media mogul Sorin Ovidiu Vantu (pictured here) and some of his associates threatened to kill Sebastian Ghita and other members of the Asesoft Board.

Ghita went on to tell Hotnews.ro that negotiations over the contract had not yet been concluded. Mr. Vantu, however, told Pagina de media that Ghita would no longer be the manager of Realitatea TV, that he had decided to end the contract, and that he would make this official in due time.

For the original story from Hotnews.ro, please see the link above.

Contest: Severin/out

The Alliance for Clean Romania (ACR) launched a contest for the best sketch of the monument commemorating Adrian Severin, author of the realkoruption doctrine and victim of a anti-European, anti-Romanian and anti-Severin conspiracy.

Starting today ACR will publish the drawings or models from the readers. An international jury will select the best, which will be sent to the European Parliament. A delegation will travel to Place Luxembourg in Brussels to discuss details related to where the monument should be placed exactly.

Right Click below and download the posters received so far on your computer at full size:

As Adrian Severin chooses to resist longer to the unanimous requests for resignation, the more time you have to practice your creativity and solidarity. Thanks to Dan Flores in Predeal who sent the first proposal. We look forward to receiving yours at contact@romaniacurata.ro, Please, mark the message subject line as ‘Monument for Adrian Severin’.

A Tale of Two Villages. Coerced Modernization in the East European Countryside

A non-fiction book about the social engineering operated in rural Eastern Europe by the Communist regime, based on the history of two villages in Romania. One of the two villages is the birthplace of Nicolae Ceausescu, the former Communist dictator, Scornicesti, which received massive investment during communist years and was turned into a mixture of underdeveloped village and industrial town. The other is Nucsoara, the Carpathian cradle of peasants’ resistance against Communism, where half the village was executed or imprisoned and their lands divided between the other half. The state intervention failed in both villages to attain the planned objectives, but it nevertheless changed fundamentally the life of villagers. This book is mostly about the consequences of unlimited state power over people and communities.

More information can be founds here. You can purchase your copy of the book here.

Reviews for this publication

This is a dramatic, thought-provoking and sometimes savagely funny account of one of the toughest problems in Europe: the ingrained poverty of the Romanian countryside. It deals with two villages, Scorniceşti and Nucşoaru. One was celebrated under communism as the birthplace of the dicatator Nicolae Ceauşescu. The other was a hotbed of armed anti-communist resistance. Both have been trampled by history into an unrecognisable, depopulated mush. The stories Ms Mungiu Pippidi unearths are mostly forgotten or misremembered by the people she is writing about. The European integration that has so boosted the lives of Romania ‘s urban elites is just a tinny echo. Of the billions in EU programme money she writes:

‘nobody seems competent enough to fill in one of those complex application forms with many rubrics, seemingly designed to exclude the semi-literate farmers of the underdeveloped, rural areas for which those programme were in fact intended.’

This book is an exemplary work of social history, mixing evocative anecdote with sharp analysis. The accounts of the destructive ultra-individualism spawned by the reaction against communist-era collectivism are particularly memorable (in one place, a villager saws up a bit of the railway track to use as a ceiling beam, cutting the only rail link between the village and the outside world). It deserves to be read by anyone who wonders where EU money is going and why the rural inhabitants of Romania so doggedly vote for the people and parties responsible for their misery.

Review in The Economist

The book is positioned at the disciplinary intersection between social anthoropology, oral history, and political sciences – a rara avis in today’s climate of academic over-specialization. The story of the two post-socialist villages Nucşoara and Scornicesti in Walachia, southern Romania, follows the American tradition of exploring peasant politics and power in the manner of James Scott and Timothy Mitchell, among others.
The book has strong points. One is the multilevel approach combining the local level of analysis with the national one. The author effectively applies both ethnographic information gatherring and political science tools, such as analysis based on national data pools. Furthermore, she offers a theoretical model that can foster a better understanding of the post-socialist world.
… extremely useful for those interested in post-socialist transformation processes. It merits the attention of social scientists studyin eastern Europe“.

in Südosteuropa

Alina Mungiu-Pippidi is one of the most outspoken and courageous public figures in Romania. She is a trenchant yet constructive critic of Romanian politics and society and as a university professor has initiated and secured funding for numerous research projects into which she has drawn her students. This volume is the product of one such project and is based on fieldwork carried out in Romania with a group of her students in political anthropology. The book provides a rich and varied discussion of collectivization and its continuing effects. Twenty years after its fall, the Communist Party still casts a long shadow in the region.

H-net online

Is East-Central Europe Backsliding? EU Accession Is No “End of History”

In the textbooks on democratic transition, Central and Eastern Europe provides the model of success. Yet in Brussels concern over the politics of the new EU members has been mounting. The day after accession, when conditionality has faded, the influence of the EU vanished like a short-term anesthetic. Political parties needed to behave during accession in order to reach this highly popular objective, but once freed from these constraints, they returned to their usual ways. Now we see Central and Eastern Europe as it really is—a region that has come far but still has a way to go.

Corruption: Diagnosis and Treatment

Political corruption poses a serious threat to democracy and its consolidation. Many anticorruption initiatives fail because they are nonpolitical in nature, while most of the corruption in developing and postcommunist countries is inherently political. Successfully fighting this kind of corruption requires far more than instituting best practices from advanced democracies. Electoral revolutions can lead to consolidated democracies only if they are followed by revolutions against particularism. Nothing short of such a revolution will succeed in curbing corruption in countries where particularism prevails.