108361 5/16/2007 4:42 07BUCHAREST556 Embassy Bucharest CONFIDENTIAL 07BUCHAREST469|07BUCHAREST491 VZCZCXRO6374 PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR DE RUEHBM #0556/01 1360442 ZNY CCCCC ZZH P 160442Z MAY 07 FM AMEMBASSY BUCHAREST TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6629 INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BUCHAREST 000556
DEPT FOR EUR/NCE AARON JENSEN
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/13/2017 TAGS: PREL, PGOV, KCOR, KJUS, RO SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR MEETS WITH ANTICORRUPTION DIRECTORATE CHIEF DANIEL MORAR
REF: A) BUCHAREST 491 B) BUCHAREST 469
Classified By: Political Counselor Theodore Tanoue for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)
1. (C) Summary: In a May 14 meeting, National Anticorruption Directorate Chief Daniel Morar described to Ambassador the negative effects of recent actions by Parliament and the new Romanian Justice Minister in undercutting the effectiveness of anticorruption prosecutions. Morar said parliamentarians wanted to probe into sources and methods, including the DNA's technical capabilities, and to establish parliamentary control over all wiretap operations. He reported that recent parliamentary actions had, in effect, decriminalized certain types of bank fraud and money laundering based on such bank fraud. Morar also characterized the new Justice Minister's dismissal of the DNA's top investigative prosecutor as an attempt to roll back anticorruption efforts. Morar (and prosecutors close to the Prosecutor General) have told us that they now feel politically vulnerable. If the Justice Minister succeeds in removing the DNA Deputy Chief Doru Tulus, even a reinstated President Basescu may be unable to reverse the damage done to anticorruption prosecutions. End summary.
2. (C) The Ambassador met with Daniel Morar, Chief of Romania's National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA), on May 14 to discuss the effects of recent moves by Parliament and the new Minister of Justice Tudor Chiuariu to hinder the effectiveness of the DNA's anticorruption prosecutions. The Ambassador emphasized that it was essential for Romania to have a strong democracy based on the rule of law--both for Romanians' sake and as the cornerstone of U.S.-Romanian relations. He noted the extensive training and support the Embassy had provided for the Anticorruption Directorate through the Resident Legal Advisor's (RLA) programs, including contributing to DNA's technical effectiveness, and asked Morar how the Embassy could further promote the independence of prosecutors.
3. (C) Morar thanked the Ambassador for the Embassy's attention to the DNA's anticorruption work and for the training and technical equipment donations (totaling almost $90k for non-wiretapping recording devices) that have made the DNA the first prosecutors' office in Romania to be able to conduct some modern undercover investigations independent of other institutions such as the police and the domestic intelligence service (SRI). The Ambassador later toured the DNA's Technical Services and saw how the DNA has put the equipment to use in conducting undercover operations involving multiple cases of bribery of judicial and public officials involving tens of thousands of dollars. The head of the technical service confirmed such equipment did not help to investigate cases of corruption involving higher amounts of money, as millions of dollars did not change hands in the form of currency, but rather through more complicated banking and real estate transactions. Such high-level corruption investigations were conducted by the DNA's Section II, responsible for Combating Corruption, and usually involved complex financial analysis. Morar noted that two DNA prosecutors were currently in the U.S. receiving training from the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center on investigating financial crimes thanks to DNA's permanent contact with Embassy's RLA. He added that training on investigating financial crimes was crucial to the DNA's mission and welcomed any additional training the U.S. could provide.
Parliament's Offensive Against Anticorruption Efforts
4. (C) Morar explained his and Prosecutor General Codruta Kovesi's recent refusal to appear before a parliamentary commission on wire tapping, explaining that "we are a separate power -- the judiciary cannot be questioned by parliament." In response to insistence of parliamentary leaders that Kovesi and Morar appear for hearings, Morar said they notified the Superior Council of Magistracy (CSM), with a request for the CSM to determine whether magistrates are in fact subject to testifying to parliament. Morar emphasized that prosecutors had the statutory right, with a judge's approval, to have and use wiretapping equipment. He said he told the commission in writing that only SRI had the ability to wiretap and that the DNA only had computers and headphones to listen in. Morar said the parliamentary commission (note: headed by PSD's Cristian Diaconescu. End note:) was also interested in understanding what type of recording equipment the DNA possessed. He commented, "Now that they know they can be heard, they're not talking anymore..." alluding to the
BUCHAREST 00000556 002 OF 003
difficulty in carrying out the DNA's mandate to investigate parliamentarians. Morar also commented on the "irresponsible" misrepresentation of the commission publicizing that there were 3,800 wiretap authorizations in 2006 and that most were by the DNA, despite Morar's having informed parliamentarians that the DNA conducted only 186 wiretaps in 2006.
5. (C) Morar said the parliament was debating a controversial draft law that would create a single agency with sole rights to conduct all wiretaps. He said that parliamentary committee would then have the right to review all wiretaps twice a month. Morar emphasized that he was "strongly against" this legislation since some parliamentarians had recently tipped off two members of SRI that they were under investigation by the DNA. Morar believed this political "oversight" of the operational activity of prosecutors would seriously undermine the DNA's ability to prosecute high level corruption.
6. (C) Morar also briefed the Ambassador on the effects of a recent law that decriminalized certain types of bank fraud. He said that the DNA currently had 52 cases involving bank fraud at trial covering at least 200 defendants and that all would be acquitted as a result of this law. Morar claimed that since Parliament had decriminalized bank fraud, there was nothing a judge could do but acquit. He said "we have acquittals each week," which he pointed out had raised concerns during the European Commission's monitoring that not only bank fraud, but also money laundering cases would end in acquittals. Morar said that in all these investigations, there was "no other possibility other than having cases closed."
Justice Minister Chiuariu's Dismissal of the DNA Deputy Chief
7. (C) Ambassador asked DNA Chief Morar what the effects were of Justice Minister Chiuariu's May 8 request for the dismissal of the DNA Deputy Chief Doru Tulus. Morar replied that the removal of the DNA's Section II Chief would have a big effect since his section investigates "the most important cases of fiscal fraud." He said Tulus personally was responsible for investigations that had resulted in indictments of four MPs; Tulus coordinates and verifies the work of all prosecutors in Section II responsible for combating corruption. Morar affirmed the statutory right of Justice Minister Chiuariu to revoke the head of a section within the DNA, but said the "overnight" decision was a surprise and had been made without consultation. Morar commented that two of the four reasons Chiuariu cited for the dismissal were false, since the cases mentioned had nothing to do with Tulus, predating his tensure as chief of the section. Beyond the direct effect on Tulus, Morar noted that all of the prosecutors in that section now felt that positions were "fragile." Morar also noted that, on the following day, two of the twelve scheduled interviewees for prosecutorial positions at the DNA withdrew and two recently hired prosecutors asked to be transferred from the DNA. Morar hoped the advisory opinion of the CSM on the , due on May 16 on the Justice Minister's request for Tulus to be dismissed, would "calm things down." Yet he also noted that the CSM's opinion was only consultative and that it remained "in the hands of the President" to sign a dismissal. (Note: If signed, Tulus would be demoted out of the DNA and sent back to his Cluj office. This would affect most high-level corruption cases as he was investigating or directed investigations against parliamentarians and public officials from every party. End note.)
8. (C) Morar commented indirectly on the Social Democrats' (PSD) initiative to return the authority to appoint and remove key prosecutors from the Ministry of Justice to the CSM. (Note: PSD leader Mircea Geoana and Senator Cristian Diaconescu told poloff separately they would pass such a law this week. End note.) Morar noted the authority had been changed from CSM to the MOJ in 2004 since the CSM had not been going after high level corruption. Morar commented that such authority was fine "if we have a good and correct Justice Minister," but, "if we have one influenced by politicians then we have problems." He noted the difficulties the 70-member CSM has when making decisions to remove prosecutors "even when they see that person not doing well." Morar stated that if CSM would take its role more seriously in reviewing the work of magistrates, it would be good for this authority to reside solely within the judiciary. He asked for any help the Embassy could provide "to make politicians responsible for reasonable and defensible actions, to tell politicians openly to follow and respect
BUCHAREST 00000556 003 OF 003
commitments, and to stress to them that if they establish an agency to fight corruption, let it do its job." The Ambassador replied "we will look to be helpful without interfering in the laws of Romania."
9. (C) Morar warned that besides changing prosecutors, the new Minister of Justice could put pressure on prosecutors by merging the DNA with the Department for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT). Morar maintained that these two bodies are in no way similar and that no prosecutor wants such a merger.
Anticorruption Prosecutors Feeling Vulnerable
10. (C) In response to the Ambassador's question, DNA Chief Morar said he did not personally feel threatened, but as head of the institution he felt responsible for prosecutors working there. "I know how hard it is to convince prosecutors to work for us. We don't need this agitation now. We will continue our job and investigations. We will not slow down for the referendum or for elections."
11. (C) Comment: Officials at the DNA were very appreciative of the Embassy's 5/14 press release underscoring our support for anticorruption efforts here and for the Anticorruption Directorate's work. Prosecutors feel extremely vulnerable during the interim presidency of Senator Nicolai Vacaroiu since only the President has the authority to remove and appoint the top prosecutors based on the Justice Minister's recommendation. Prosecutor General Kovesi's office conveyed to Emboffs similar concerns. Parliamentarians appear intent to rid themselves of the specter of being investigated for corruption during President Basescu's suspension. By rushing through the removal of the DNA's Deputy Chief, they could hamper the majority of the DNA's prosecutions against high level corruption. If they succeed, even a reinstated President Basescu would have his hands tied by the Justice Minister's recommendation to appoint the DNA's most important investigative prosecutor. End comment. TAUBMAN