201885 4/10/2009 14:17 09BUCHAREST247 Embassy Bucharest CONFIDENTIAL P 101417Z APR 09 FM AMEMBASSY BUCHAREST TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9422 INFO EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY C O N F I D E N T I A L BUCHAREST 000247
STATE FOR EUR/CE
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/09/2019 TAGS: PGOV, PREL, KJUS, RO SUBJECT: DNA CHIEF PROSECUTOR MORAR: MORE BOMBSHELL INDICTMENTS COMING
Classified By: CDA Jeri Guthrie-Corn for 1.5 (b) and (d)
1. (C) Summary: DNA Chief Prosecutor Daniel Morar warned Emboffs that the fast-track code reform package now being debated in parliament is flawed, given inadequate consultations and provisions that would lower or eliminate criminal penalties for corruption, reductions in the statutes of limitations, and inadequate definitions of complex financial crimes. Morar also warned that adoption of a new criminal code could lead to moves to abrogate the legal basis under which the DNA and the Anti-Corruption and Organized Crime Directorate (DIICOT) operate. He hinted that new indictments against operatives in the Interior Ministry's intelligence units were coming. End Summary.
2. (C) Polcouns and visiting INR Analyst Elizabeth Brocking met April 9 with National Anti-Corruption Directorate (DNA) Chief Prosecutor Daniel Morar. Morar evinced unhappiness with the fast-track code reform package being pushed by the Justice Ministry, remarking that the new criminal code and criminal procedure codes are flawed. Even worse, adoption of the codes could lead to moves to abrogate the Special Law on Corruption (Law 78/2000) which provided the legal basis for the work of the DNA and its sister organization, the DIICOT (The Anti-Terrorism and Organized Crime Directorate), since opponents of these agencies could claim that Law 78 was now redundant. Morar said he had plenty of objections to the code drafts now being discussed in parliament. These included provisions lowering or eliminating criminal penalties for corruption; reductions in the statute of limitations to the point where many corruption investigations were unlikely to be completed before the clock ran out; and inadequate definitions of complex financial offenses such as securities fraud and tax evasion. Morar said he had the support of Prosecutor General Laura Kovesi on this issue, and that Kovesi's recent commentary on the code drafts posted on the Prosecutor General's website had been based in part on input provided by the DNA.
3. (C) Asked about Justice Minister Predoiu's position, Morar responded that while MOJ had indicated that it agreed with the DNA's proposals, Predoiu's hands were tied because the Ministry could not amend the original code draft since it had already been approved by the cabinet. Thus, any subsequent MOJ commentaries on the code drafts had to be construed as only advisory in nature. Morar added that the fast-track parliamentary hearings were a defective process, given that his own informal polling of counterparts suggested that at least 80 percent of Romania's magistrates had yet to read the code draft, and the parliamentary hearings were not getting the viewpoints of many important stakeholders, including civil society. Morar was also critical of the passivity--apparently deliberate--of the MOJ representative assigned to attend the parliamentary hearings.
4. (C) Morar said that support for and opposition to the code revisions did not fall cleanly along party lines. For example, while PSD Parliamentary Relations Minister Victor Ponta was heading the ad hoc committee now examining the Criminal Code (and had promised to have the codes ready for passage by May 15), it appeared that PSD head Mircea Geoana was now hedging his bets. Geoana had reportedly inquired with the European Commission as to whether the Commission might find it problematic if the codes were not approved in time for the next EU periodic report on justice sector reforms: their response was that good codes were preferable to fast ones. Morar added that the idea that the codes were being adopted because of EU pressure, or that the codes represented the introduction of "European" standards in Romania, was a canard. It was obvious that the plan to approve the four codes--Criminal, Criminal Procedure, Civil, and Civil Procedure--in an unprecedented two-month period had come entirely from within Romania. Similarly, Morar argued that proponents had failed to justify their claims that the code drafts represented the best standards of modern "European" jurisprudence. "I'll believe it when they show me the evidence," said Morar.
5. (C) When asked whether the DNA was facing the same immediate budget pressures now affecting other specialized anti-crime agencies (e.g., the Anti-Drug Agency, TIP Agency, and cyber-crime units), Morar responded that the DNA had its full budget allotment, at least through the end of July. While the mid-year budget rectification exercise might adversely impact DNA operations, the real existential threat to the agency was whether or not Law 78 would be retained after the Criminal Codes were revised. He warned that disbanding the two agencies and reintegrating the organized crime and corruption investigation functions back into the General Prosecutor's office had been tried before and had failed. Fighting these complex crimes required specialized experience, the right tools, institutional autonomy, and the accountability that came with working for an organization whose continued existence depended on whether they were doing their jobs.
6. (C) Morar was also critical of proposals from the Justice Minister to revive the Justice Mnistry's own intelligence unit--SIPA--which was disbanded by then-Justice Minister Monica Macovei in 2005-6. He said such a capability was unnecessary in the Justice Ministry and was not consonant with the MOJ's mission given that the kinds of information collected could not be used as evidence in court cases.
7. (C) Morar hinted that things were "going well" for "interesting cases involving important people." He explained that we should expect indictments soon of individuals within the General Directorate for Intelligence and Internal Protection (DGIPI) and the General Directorate for Anti-Corruption (DGA) who had been involved in a range of "political policing" activities including wiretaps and surveillance activities. These privacy violations had taken place despite the fact that no real criminal prosecutions were taking place. Rather, the individuals had done this in order to obtain personal advantage or to obtain information to blackmail others. It was "shocking" that even two decades after the disappearance of the communist regime, many old practices were still continuing. "We can prove this," he added.
8. (C) Comment: The earlier DNA indictments against DGIPI and DGA operatives in the Interior Ministry (the so-called Popoviciu case) were a bombshell whose impact is still resonating through the Romanian body politic. In this case, some DNA prosecutors blew the whistle on DGA operatives who had reportedly tried to bribe DNA officials in order to thwart scrutiny of alleged illegal land transfers from the University of Agriculture to a Romanian-American land developer. The case has now ramified into other areas, producing weeks of accusations and counter accusations from the PDL and PSD camps. Media reported today that--in what local observers have characterized as a "hostile takeover" of the Interior Ministry's intelligence organs--a former chief of the SRI counterintelligence division has been named as the interim Deputy Chief of the DGIPI. We believe that the Popoviciu case is unprecedented: while the DNA has targeted individual senior politicians in the past, this is the first time that it has directed its attention to another executive agency. Morar admitted that his agency's investigations of improper conduct in the Interior Ministry have raised accusations that the DNA is engaged in politically motivated actions timed to confer partisan advantage during the election campaign. He insisted that his goal was simply to bring the Interior Ministry's activities under the oversight of courts, prosecutors, and proper criminal procedures and to assert the rule of law. As to the charges that he was meddling in the election campaign, Morar replied, "What should we do? Every year is an election year here in Romania." End Comment.