Kovesi: EUR 1 billion should return to the state budget following DNA’s investigations. Defendants prefer to hide their assets abroad

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Huge some of money should have reached the state budget following the top investigations conducted by the National Anti-corruption Directorate (DNA) in the past five years, said the chief prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi on Tuesday. She revealed that prosecutors have frozen assets worth EUR 2 billion during their investigations, and judges have pronounced final rulings through which almost half of the sum – EUR 1 billion – should have been seized already. However, only a small part of the fortunes of the defendants who went to prison, has been recovered by the tax revenue body, ANAF.

“Since 2013, in the past five years, the DNA prosecutors have frozen assets worth EUR 2 billion. 999 court rulings have remained final and Okayed seizures of over EUR 1 billion. We talk about one billion euros that are supposed to reach the state budget. It’s the tax revenue bodies’ duty to collect the money. I used to monitor the percentage of effective execution, it was 10-11%. But let’s imagine what we can do with EUR 1 billion in Romania,” Kovesi said during a seminar on prejudice recovery.

Kovesi also attended a sitting at the Justice Ministry on Tuesday, a sitting to prepare the visit of the European experts for the CVM (Cooperation and Verification Mechanism) is held.

It’s the first meeting Kovesi is having with Justice minister Tudorel Toader, after the exchanges of retorts during the CSM sitting last week, when the prosecutors have given negative opinion to the JusMin request to dismiss Kovesi.

Kovesi explained that the fact the money don’t actually return to the state budget doesn’t depend on the legislation, but on the way the judge rulings are interpreted.

“I have always considered that recovering the prejudice is important. We have to bear in mind the particularity of the DNA investigations, we talk about top-level corruption deeds, about important people or considerable assets. And our expectations are high when we talk about recovering the prejudices,” Kovesi said.

According to her, statistics prove that this priority of recovering prejudice has been met, at least when it comes to the DNA prosecutors.

However, Kovesi warned that we talk about frozen assets, we should also consider the ones the defendants have abroad. She explained that investigated people prefer to hide their assets abroad or to leave abroad completely. She also said that statistics show that offenders also prefer to stay in prison rather than have their fortune seized.

The financial investigations department within DNA set up in 2015 has covered this issue, too. 2016 was the first year when DNA has seized assets Romanian defendants had in other countries: two properties in France, worth over EUR 5,5 M, two houses in Spain, worth more than EUR 500,000 and bank accounts blocked in Cyprus, Germany or Switzerland,” Kovesi stated.

In his turn, the ANAF representative, Toni Avram, said that the agency is also facing difficulties in recovering the money, for instance the rulings don’t mention the sum which has to be recovered, or they don’t have the ID data of the debitor, only his name, but not the social security number.

However, the ANAF official says all those who have caused prejudices to the state will eventually pay. “Nobody will get away with this, they will pay sooner or later,” Avram said.

 

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