The Current Status of the Romanian National Integrity Agency - Rule of Law Programme Southeast Europe
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The recommendation for implementing an effective mechanism for wealth control already existed in the common position document on the field of justice and internal affairs, prior to the Romanian access to the European Union (EU). As a direct consequence of these recommendations, combating corruption through administrative means became one of the objectives of the National Anti-corruption Strategy 2005-2007.
Thus, in May 2007, the National Integrity Agency (ANI) was created (see Law no. 144/2007). This has led Romania to become the first European country to create a specialized institution to check wealth, conflicts of interests and incompatibility issues. It has to be noted that even though wealth declarations were mandatory since 1996, and that these declarations became public documents in 2003, the control mechanisms were difficult to implement. More over, the conflicts of interests were never systematically controlled.
ANI was regulated as an autonomous administrative authority, benefitting from operational independence. The management of the Agency can not require and can not be required for any dispositions from any public authority, institution or person.
ANI can start an investigation either on the basis of a physical or juridical person’s request, or on the request formulated by the president of the Agency. All requests need to be accompanied by the information and proofs which sustain the request. In cases which imply ANI personnel, the requests are submitted to the National Council for Integrity.
If an unjustified wealth was discovered (with a difference of at least 10.000 EUR between the value of the wealth and the official incomes), the integrity inspectors had to file a case to the court, asking for the seizure of the illicitly gained wealth. As a complementary penalty, for a three years period, the accused person is forbidden to exercise any public function. In the case of conflicts of interests, any juridical act which was signed, with the infringement of the law is declared null. Also, among the sanctions following an investigation by ANI are the disciplinary actions, which can lead up to dismissal from the public function. Again, the interdiction to exercise any public function for three years is implemented.
In the interim report from March 2010 of the European Commission to the European Parliament and the Council on Progress in Romania under the Co-operation and Verification Mechanism (CVM), it was noted that the progress of the National Integrity Agency (ANI) has been consolidated and extended. Its results are clearly stated: “From 22 May 2009 to 4 January 2010, ANI finalized 769 verifications and referred 174 additional files to competent institutions to apply sanctions or pursue criminal investigation. Of these 174 files, two files have been sent to the courts to confiscate unjustified wealth 60 files to disciplinary bodies to sanction ANI's findings of incompatibilities or conflicts of interest, and 112 files have been referred to prosecutors to investigate suspicions of false statements or other crimes. As of 22 February, sanctions have been applied by disciplinary bodies in eleven cases concerning incompatible officials.” The Commission report praised the progress in ANI’s work, but its results had still to be confirmed.
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