Romania's ex-anti-corruption prosecutor will not give up the fight

As a key figure in Romania's long battle against political corruption, Laura Codruța Kövesi was known for her hardline approach against the country's elite. Now she is in the midst of another battle to be the EU's first public prosecutor. 

Editorial Team
Jessica Sirotin NewsMavens, Europe
Romania's ex-anti-corruption prosecutor will not give up the fight - NewsMavens
Laura Codruța Kövesi, Wikimedia Commons

Why this story matters:

Laura Codruța Kövesi was well known in international circles as the head of Romania's National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA). Under Kövesi's leadership, the DNA succeeded in bringing charges against some of the country's most powerful political elite, including Social Democrat leader Liviu Dragnea. He was long considered the most powerful man in Romania but Kövesi succeeded in bringing charges against him involving fake jobs for party members. He has now been jailed for three and a half years.

Kövesi is now one of two candidates remaining for the position of the European Union's first public prosecutor. The selection process has gotten bogged down by a power struggle between the European Parliament (who has endorsed her candidacy) and the Council of the EU (which has backed rival French candidate Jean-François Bohnert).

She was dismissed from her position at DNA after political infighting gave the upper hand to her opponents. And this hostility from those in power has continued, Romanian politicians in Brussels have not supported her candidacy and the government even brought charges of abuse of office, bribery and false testimony against her earlier in the year. These charges were dismissed by Romania's Supreme Court.

Kövesi continues to wait on some kind of resolution of this struggle. Bohnert is widely regarded as the favorite since he has also been endorsed by his country's government. However, Kövesi is not giving up the fight just yet: "As long as this procedure is not finalized, I have a chance to get this job and I am fighting for my chance — until the last second."

She believes that her unique experience at DNA -- focusing on the misuse of EU funds -- gives her experience that would be valuable at the EU level.  

“Having investigated so many cases, that means I also know very well the typology of the crimes. Once you know how the deed is done, you also know how to catch them. Corruption wasn’t invented in Romania. It's not a new brand."

One of the important responsibilities of the new EU prosecutor would be to investigate fraud involving EU funds. This would be the first supra-national prosecution effort to catch these kinds of misuse of EU funds, generally this type of criminal investigation takes place within each member country.

Details from the story:

  • During her time at the DNA, legal action were intiated against about 1,000 people every year, of which about 900 were convicted, she said. That record, she argued, makes her a strong candidate for the EU job.
  • "Under my leadership, the DNA has become a model of good practices in southeast Europe in regard to high-level corruption," she said.
  • The DNA is also the only institution in Romania that investigates fraud involving EU funds, which Kövesi said is a priority for her: Over 2,000 such cases were investigated yearly during her time in office.

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