07BUCHAREST574 / 2007-05-21 04:31:00
Embassy Bucharest
                C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BUCHAREST 000574 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/18/2017 
Classified By: DCM Mark Taplin for reasons 1.4(b) and (d). 
1.  (C) Summary: A heavy-handed attempt by Justice Minister 
Chiuariu to remove Romania's top anti-corruption prosecutor 
has been blocked for now by the Superior Council of 
Magistracy (CSM) .  The CSM decision effectively prevents the 
anti-Basescu coalition from gaining control over 
anticorruption prosecutions during the President's one-month 
suspension period.  Chiuariu's move clearly backfired, 
eliciting protests and high-level resignations from senior 
judicial officials, and prompting calls for Chiuariu's own 
resignation.  It has also prompted EU observers to pointedly 
attend en masse the CSM hearing in a rare public gesture of 
concern about the direction of judicial reform in Romania. 
In turn, the Tariceanu government and Geoana's Social 
Democrat Party have bristled at the negative foreign 
attention on their moves to roll back Romania's 
anti-corruption efforts.  End summary. 
2.  (C) One of incoming Justice Minister Tudor Chiuariu's 
first priorities has been an attempt to dismiss the National 
Anticorruption Directorate's (DNA) Deputy Chief Doru Tulus. 
This has provoked an uproar, including widespread complaints 
of interference with the independence of prosecutors and 
public calls for Chiuariu's resignation.  Chiuariu reportedly 
sent his surprise request for the dismissal of Tulus to 
Interim President Nicolae Vacaroiu, without consulting DNA 
Chief Prosecutor Dan Morar, Prosecutor General Codruta 
Kovesi, or even his own Justice Ministry staffers responsible 
for anticorruption efforts and relations with the 
prosecutors.  Civil society NGOs, intellectuals, as well as 
magistrates protested Chiuariu's interference with the 
judiciary.  The National Institute of Magistracy revoked an 
invitation for Chiuariu to speak the next evening, issuing a 
statement that the "minister's message could contradict the 
values promoted by the Institute." Three Ministry of Justice 
officials also tendered their resignations in protest: State 
Secretary Ionut Codescu, the minister's legal counselor 
Cristi Danilet, and the director for anticorruption efforts 
Laura Stefan. 
3.  (C) During a May 8 meeting with visiting EUR A/S Dan 
Fried and Ambassador, Prime Minister Tariceanu denied any 
knowledge of the dismissal, which had been revealed by the 
media a few hours earlier.  However, the MOJ State Secretary 
who resigned--Ionut Codescu--subsequently asserted to PolOff 
and RLA that the Justice Minister would have done nothing 
without the Prime Minister's explicit authorization.  Codescu 
mocked the crude way in which the bureaucratically 
inexperienced Chiuariu attempted to carry out the dismissal, 
noting that he failed to consult with senior staff who had 
previously prepared such dismissals; Chiuariu had clearly 
failed to anticipate the unprecedented uproar that his 
heavy-handed attempt to threaten the magistrates would 
provoke.   Codescu, who has been in the MOJ since 1998 (and 
State Secretary since September 2005) said the prosecutors' 
protest was also a tribute to former Justice Minister Monica 
Macovei's effectiveness in establishing a truly independent 
judiciary, as such a protest would have been unthinkable just 
a few years ago. The Ambassador's press statement following 
his May 14 meeting with DNA Chief Morar, helped focus the 
attention of other embassies, as well as the media, to these 
"recent developments that had raised questions...about the 
current direction of Romania's anti-corruption efforts." 
4.   (C) The targeted prosecutor, Doru Tulus, who is the DNA 
Chief of Section II for Combating Corruption, told PolOff and 
RLA May 14 that he believed the reason for the rushed request 
for his dismissal was because of the many high-level 
corruption investigations currently under his purview.  He 
estimated that 80-90 percent of his section's most important 
cases involved senior public officials currently in power. 
Tulus explained that demoting him from this position would 
effectively remove him from the DNA since he was promoted 
from the prosecutor's office in Cluj and would have to return 
there -- a fact, he claimed, the Justice Minister knew well. 
He noted that the move against him came only one day after an 
unnamed leader of a political party was interrogated at DNA. 
Tulus added, however, that he believed the attack was not the 
result of a single case, but of several, and added "What 
they've done to me is just the first step" and a "clear 
message to other prosecutors to mind your own business or 
wind up the same." 
5.  (C) The embattled Tulus said he believed that the 
individuals behind the Justice Minister's decision were 
trying to get rid of others as well, including DNA Chief 
BUCHAREST 00000574  002 OF 003 
Daniel Morar.  He said that just by targeting his position, 
they could block much of the anti-corruption agency's 
activities, as the section chief reviews all information 
relevant to new cases, decides whether to open 
investigations, delegates cases to prosecutors, and decides 
whether a case can be sent to court.  Tulus also noted that 
part of the Justice Minister's allegations against him was 
that he had failed to adequately prosecute three high profile 
cases -- despite the fact that these cases dated from 
2002-2004, while he began working at the DNA only in 2005. 
6.  (C) Tulus also underscored the impact of parliament's 
recent decriminalization of certain types of bank fraud, 
noting that  "one of the most important problems" in 
post-communist Romania had been the collapse of the banking 
system.  The failures of Bancorex (then the largest Romanian 
bank), the Romanian-Turkish Bank, the International Bank of 
Religions, the Romanian Development Bank, and the 
Agricultural Bank were the result of oligarchs' obtaining 
huge sums of money through loans that were then redirected 
for other purposes.  A law had been passed in 2000 that 
criminalized this behavior, and the strict penalities -- 5-15 
years in prison -- were "enough to make people afraid," 
according to Tulus.  Geoana's PSD led the effort in 
parliament to decriminalize this kind of bank fraud -- an 
effort that succeeded with the passage of new legislation in 
March 2007 that left it to the banks to sanction bank 
employees for facilitating such fraud.  Tulus said this 
change made it harder for investigators to request bank 
records and to get the documents needed to open preliminary 
7.  (C) The CGghQ;HQen, the European Commission Delegation; an Embassy 
poloff also attended.  Justice Minister Chiurariu frowned 
throughout the hearing and appeared to be there more in the 
role of a note taker than the proponent of the motion.  He 
was visibly upset by the presence both of many reporters and 
diplomatic observers.  The Superior Council of Magistracy 
(CSM) subsequently dealt a major blow to the dismissal 
request by voting to delay any removal of Tulus until it had 
conducted its own inspection of DNA, beginning June 1, 
effectively delay any decision until after the May 19 
presidential referendum. 
8.  (C) Despite the CSM's position, DNA Chief Morar 
complained that such a special review of DNA activity was 
unwarranted since it already was subjected to periodic 
reviews and was undergoing one currently.  Laura Stefan, the 
MOJ Anticorruption Director who resigned in protest after the 
suspension effort was revealed, told PolOff that performing 
such an inspection would slow down the DNA during the next 
two months and give people outside DNA unprecedented access 
to current case files and a look into the DNA's sources, 
methods, technical abilities and operational secrets.  She 
believed "deals are being done" as many high-level officials 
are willing to pay "high prices" for such knowledge. 
9.  (C) Comment: The intense scrutiny that Justice Minister 
Chiuriaru's abortive move to tamper with the anti-corruption 
prosecutors elicited from the diplomatic community clearly 
played a role in thwarting a fairly transparent attempt to 
play havoc with the anti-corruption prosecutors during 
Basescu's suspension.  That this has incurred the resentment 
of PM Tariceanu and others is no secret. Tariceanu in recent 
press comments complained that "the attitudes of certain 
diplomats in Bucharest oversteps the normal scope of 
diplomatic work," adding that Romania as an EU state needs to 
be treated as a "partner and equal."  He also reportedly 
claimed the Ambassador had made a "groundless" assertion when 
he said recent events had raised questions regarding the 
GOR's anticorruption fight.  Similarly, PSD spokesman 
Cristian Diaconescu complained that the presence of diplomats 
from the U.S. and EU in observing the CSM hearing was an 
"unprecedented disgrace" and a sign that Romania was being 
treated as a country with "limited sovereignty" akin to 
Kosovo.  To its credit, the European Commission has not 
retreated, underscoring that the EU and member states had 
been assisting the CSM, the DNA, and other justice 
institutions for some years and noted the benchmark on 
anticorruption efforts that Romania must fulfill.   When 
Justice Minister Christian David raised the same types of 
objections during a May 18 meeting with the Ambassador, we 
noted that the CSM hearing had been open to the public, and 
that the Embassy was fulfilling its legitimate diplomatic 
role.  End Comment. 
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