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NEWS 20 Mar 17

Romania Claims Progress in Recovering Corrupt Officials' Assets

A Romanian agency set up in 2016 to manage the frozen assets of officials convicted of  corruption says it has started the process of recovering half a billion euros. 

Ana Maria Touma
BIRN
Bucharest
Romania's government has over half a billion euro to recver from graft cases, but the process is slow and the agency administering frozen assets only managed to get 4.5 million euros in 2016. Photo:Dustin Moore/Flickr.

Money reclaimed by a specialist agency in Roamnia from convicted officials is already being channelled to government projects related to civic education, crime prevention and victim protection, it has been announced.

The government says it aims to recover over half a billion euros from former officials and businessmen sentenced for graft-related crimes.

The head of National Agency for the Administration of Frozen Assets, ANABI, said the first 4.5 million euros had already reached the ministries of Education, Health, Interior and Justice.

This amount is small compared to the total funds frozen by prosecutors in bank accounts across Romania, worth approximately 156 million euros.

"The money is real, it is money that’s been frozen in accounts in banks and financial institutions on Romanian territory,” ANABI chief Cornel Calinescu said on Friday.

He also said the agency has counted 2,000 real estate properties frozen by prosecutors that can be sold if the courts decide to recover corruption-related damages.

Calinescu said the agency is also tracing the path of the recovered money to ensure that it is actually used for crime prevention or educational projects, as per the law.

The ANABI, which has 35 employees, was established in June 2016 to channel money recovered from graft investigations to institutions identified as national priorities by parliament.

According to the National Anti-corruption Directorate, DNA, the Romanian court sentences in 204 cases ordered the recovery of almost 227 million euros worth of damages.

However, the authorities have yet to enforce all these decisions and recover all the said assets. DNA chief Laura Codruta Kovesi said at the end of February that recovering financial damages in corruption cases remains a challenge for the government as well as for the prosecutors. 

At the end of October 2016, former technocratic PM Dacian Ciolos said the ANABI will have to work at full power to recover over half a billion euros in damages in corruption cases. 

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