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Press – the only fighter against corruption
Over MDL 70 thousand misappropriated by prosecutors will be returned to the state budget at the insistence of API’s Investigations Department
During one year we have insistently knocked on all doors, of the power and of the opposition, to prove a severe fraud committed by those who should be the guarantor of observance of the legislation in the country. Unfortunately, neither the power, nor the opposition reacted. We persevered and succeeded after all. Those who, shamelessly, put their hands into the state’s treasury were forced, only due to our insistence, to return the money.
Last year, API’s Department of Investigations signaled, in several investigations, about the fact that a group of prosecutors, headed by Vasile Rusu, general prosecutor at that time, worked out a draft Government decree in order to enrich themselves illegally with pensions worth thousands of Lei and indemnities worth tens of thousands of Lei. By that decree/no. 73 of 28 January 2002/, which was unconstitutional, Tarlev Cabinet enlarged, at the general prosecutor’s proposal, the category of prosecutor’s office staff entitled to benefit from pensions upon attainment of the age of 50. For example, if only prosecutors and judges with a minimal length of service of 12.5 years could retire at the age of 50 until then, after the Government’s decree entering into force, this right could be benefited from also by the lawyers that had worked in central committees of the Communist Party, in managing bodies of Trade Unions, etc. It was not hard to deduce that the document had been drafted by a group of people in a gang’s interests, part of which was also the general prosecutor who, before coming to the prosecutor’s office, had worked as an attorney-at-law for many years. Consequently, those paid to work in the people’s interest, created laws to provide for their own comfort. The respective decree was drafted not without interest.
At that time it was known that the new law on the prosecutor’s office was about to be adopted and would provide that only functional workers with over 12 years of work at the prosecutor’s office would be able to retire upon attainment of the age of 50. So, it was thought that the respective decree would be in force for a short period of time, during which many workers of the prosecutor’s office, with a past in the former state structure, brought to the prosecutor’s office by Rusu, were to receive high pensions and as high indemnities, and the decree would lose its effect after the law on the prosecutor’s office would have entered in force. And so, nobody would check whether the pensions and indemnities had been received legally. Well thought, nothing to say. It is just that the losers in this affair were we, the taxpayers, because the prosecutors that illegally received pensions and indemnities impoverished the state budget by as much as 4.5 million Lei, as we managed to find out at that time. All this was done with the silent agreement of the Cabinet of Ministers and of the Parliament. The governors that approved the decree were well aware that the document was unconstitutional because pensions and the categories of beneficiaries thereof are established only by organic law. Paradoxical is the fact that nobody was put on guard that pensions were being awarded under Government decree.
Moreover, a special commission of the General Prosecutor’s Office fraudulently awarded during 2002 indemnities of tens of thousands of Lei to prosecutors retired at the age of 50, despite the fact that, according to the legislation, such indemnities can be benefited from only by those that upon attainment of retiring age, retire from the prosecutor’s office. Or, many of those who picked indemnities of tens of thousands continue to work in the prosecutor’s office.
Those individuals, besides their position salaries and pensions of thousands of Lei, also obtained one-time indemnities between 40 and 60 thousand Lei. It is natural for us to ask ourselves: what do we do about the “high moral state and professionalism of the GPO staff”, which the current General Prosecutor recently praised in a press release?
State corrupts prosecutors
During one year we have made requests to the head of state, chairperson of the Parliament, Parliament’s Legal Commission, leaders of parliamentary factions, Ministry of Finance, Courts of Accounts, CCCEC and the General Prosecutor’s Office, requesting them to check what we wrote in our stories “Theft of millions in communist style” and “Cannon of the General Prosecutor”. Everybody treated with superficiality our request and many, among which were the leaders of parliamentary factions, even ignored it. Although the actions of corruption were obvious, opposition MPs continued to occupy themselves with power accession strategies, as if only we, the journalists, needed the millions misappropriated from the state budget returned.
If we had let ourselves beaten, this issue, as it was wanted, would have been overlooked, because we deduced from the responses received from the Presidency and the Parliament’s Legal Commission that the power was interested in covering up the illegal actions committed by the Government in complicity with the ex-General Prosecutor Vasile Rusu.
GPO confirms that some prosecutors illegally received pensions and indemnities
The General Prosecutor was dismissed last November, without the invocation of a reason. Since Rusu could not any more impede the conduction of an objective control, we, because we are not careless about how public money are spent, resumed our requests for verification of the legality of pension awarding. This time we requested GPO to examine the information from our investigations under Art. 274 of the Criminal Procedure Code, which provides for initiation of lawsuit. To our surprise, one year later from when we started making requests, the GPO answered that it was “checking under all aspects the data described in the investigations…” The GPO has recently informed us that “...the control of the legality of payment of retire one-time indemnities to the prosecutors has established that, due to the erroneous interpretation/application/ of the law on the judge’s status, the GPO specialized commission made, during 2002, overpayments and unfounded payments at this chapter in the total amount of MDL 70,738.04”. Also, the prosecutor’s office tells us “due to the fact that the control was unable to estimate the level of guiltiness of each member of the commission and measures have been undertaken to recover the groundlessly paid sums, a resolution was issued on 13 May 2004 not to initiate legal proceedings”. If at the beginning nobody saw unlawfulness in the actions of the GPO gang, now the office partially acknowledges that severe frauds were committed upon the payment of one-time indemnities. However, the prosecutor’s office does not have enough courage or may be it lacks professionalism to establish the guilt of those who facilitated the misappropriation of public money. If the GPO had prosecutors “with high moral state and professionalism”, it would not be difficult for it to find the entire misappropriated sum, including the one paid as a result of establishment of illegal retire pays, about which the office prefers to remain silent. Reliable sources have told us that a recent control conducted by the Court of Accounts at the GPO found frauds of millions of Lei in the management of budget sources. In order to check this information, we made an approach to the Court of Accounts, which confirmed the financial inspection they conducted at the GPO in the first semester of 2004, but it refused to inform us of its results, invoking that its decision “is not final and can be attacked in the court of law”. What did the Court of Accounts discover at GPO, if it is afraid of an eventual lawsuit? Or, may be, they are dragging out time so that the two institutions reach an understanding and do not make public the found violations?
General Prosecutor pretends not to know anything
Since the GPO has confirmed that a number of prosecutors illegally received indemnities, we requested the names of the prosecutors that were obliged to return the illegally received indemnities and of the members of the commission that established retire pays for the prosecutor’s office staff. At the same time, we would like to know the nature of the actions undertaken in view of recovering the unfounded overpayments, amounting to MDL 70,738.04, about which the GPO informed us, and based on which legal act they were undertaken. If after the first case won by API against the General Prosecutor’s Office on the limitation of access to information, this structure started to respond to our requests for information in the terms provided by the legislation, for several months now the law on access to information has become a dead law for the GPO. As we managed to find out, our approaches stop in the office of the new Prime Deputy General Prosecutor, schooled by the Presidency, Valeriu Gurbulea. And this happens despite the fact that the General Prosecutor, Valeriu Balaban, stated for the press upon his appointment in office that he would not admit any departures from the law. We have no choice but to resort to the court again to find out who and how much money illegally took from the state budget. As we found out, only the ex-General Prosecutor, Vasile Rusu, that is currently head of the Legal Division of the Government, must return to the state about MDL 35 thousand.
Some do not have bread to eat, to others the caviar stinks
How many salaries would the state have given to its citizens from the amounts misappropriated by prosecutors? A lot. Calculate yourselves: for instance, just one village needs MDL 25 thousand to pay monthly salaries to teachers and mayoralty officers. If we make simple calculations, the MDL 4.5 million illegally misappropriated by prosecutors would have ensured several villages with one-year pensions and salaries, and our citizens would not have had to go abroad to work.
And how many other such misappropriations have been committed by state officers and responsible persons, about which the ordinary people do not know anything?
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