Romania Steps Up Anti-Corruption Campaign

Romania’s Anti-Corruption Department said in its latest progress report that 850 people, including ministers, lawmakers, mayors, judges and prosecutors, were convicted of corruption over the past 12 months.

Among those convicted were four ministers or ex-ministers and five MPs, among them former Prime Minister Adrian Nastase, who was found guilty for a second time in January.

Eleven mayors, five judges and three state prosecutors were also convicted, according to the Anti-Corruption Department.

Almost 4,200 criminal investigations were registered at the Anti-Corruption Department between May 15, 2013 and May 15, 2014, the report said. Most of the cases involved bribery, trading in influence, tax evasion, and fraud related to EU funds.

The high number of convictions is a sign of a increased determination among the judiciary to tackle graft, experts say.

Romania is still considered one of the most corrupt states in the European Union and has made only limited progress in fighting corruption and organised crime since it joined the EU in 2007.

Bucharest has drawn repeated criticism from the European Commission for its failure to tackle the problem.

But in recent years, the number of high-ranking officials sentenced for graft has increased significantly. Bucharest is hoping that the signs of progress noted by the European Commission will assist the country's bid to join the EU's borderless Schengen zone.

By comparison, no member of government or lawmaker was convicted of corruption between 2002 and 2009.

Continue reading on: