Anti-corruption Protest in Romania

Anti-corruption Protest in Romania

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February 21, 2017

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We hope you enjoy the following entry from this week’s Compliance Champion, and TRACE Partner Firm!

Today’s guest blog post is written by Ms. Ligia Cecilia Popescu. She is a Partner in the Bucharest office of Wolf Theiss Rechtsanwälte GmbH & Co KG and the coordinator of the Dispute Resolution and Procurement practice group. Ligia served as a diplomat in the Legal and Treaties Division of the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In 1994 she joined the Bucharest Bar gaining valuable expertise as a private practice lawyer by working with prestigious law firms in Bucharest and London. She regularly advises multinationals and investment funds in complex local and cross-border arbitration and litigation cases. She specializes in white collar crime, construction, public procurement, IP/IT and tax litigation. Ligia is a regular contributor to legal magazines and a frequent lecturer at local and international conferences.

The newly elected social democrat government in Romania recently tried to amend certain anti-corruption provisions of the Criminal and Procedure Codes by enacting Ordinance 13/2007 (the "Ordinance''). Despite the absence of any clear urgency, the Ordinance was enacted through an emergency procedure, thereby evading the normal parliamentary procedure and preventing a wide public debate.

The Ordinance was based on legitimate recommendations of the Constitutional Court, and brought Romanian law into closer harmony with EU requirements. However, some of its amendments regarding abuse of office and conflicts of interest have provoked significant controversy—including large-scale public protests—as they appear to provide retroactive cover for corrupt politicians. These include:

  1. reduced sentences for abuse of office (from 2–7 years to 6 months–3 years, or fines), and a shortened statute of limitations for criminal liability (from 8 to 5 years);
  2. no liability for abuse of office where the loss is under RON 200,000 (approx. EUR 45,000), which would not only cause many pending criminal cases to be closed and many convicted persons to be released from prison, but could also encourage multiple abuses under the threshold;
  3. removing the prohibition on convicted persons from holding public office;
  4. reduced sentences for abuse by discrimination (from 2–7 years to 1–12 months, or fines);
  5. elimination of liability for abuse by issuing or approving statutory acts, effectively permitting the enactment of laws based on racial discrimination;
  6. the controversial elimination of the phrase “business relations” in the conflicts of interest law, allowing civil servants to favor former employers, business partners, etc.;
  7. requiring that whistleblowing occur within 6 months, rather than any time within the limitation period of the criminal liability.

Following the public upheaval, the Ordinance has since been repealed. New legislation is expected in the near future to address the public’s concerns. 


Romania Reverses Decision to Weaken Corruption Law
Romania protests continue despite repeal of corruption decree
Romanians rally in biggest anti-corruption protest in decades

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