Romania's Anti-Graft Chief Slams Intelligence Service

The fierce attack launched by the chief prosecutor of the National Anti-Corruption Directorate on the Foreign Intelligence Service is seen as pointing to a serious inter-institutional conflict in Romania.

Laura Codruta Kovesi | Photo:
Laura Codruta Kovesi | Photo:

The chief prosecutor of the National Anti-Corruption Directorate, the DNA, Laura Codruta Kovesi, on Tuesday accused Romania’s Foreign Intelligence Service, SIE, of not sending the DNA any information about possible crimes abroad since she became head of the DNA.

“I have never received any counter-intelligence reports from the SIE since I took over this office at the DNA. However, we see many suspects setting up businesses abroad. This raises the reasonable question about why we have never received any information about such activities,” she said. “We haven’t been informed about foreign bank accounts, luxury villas or luxury yachts,” Kovesi said, emphasizing that “it is illegal to have information about possible crimes and not inform the DNA. “This is a legal obligation that any intelligence officer and any head of department must follow,” the DNA chief added.

At the same conference at which Kovesi launched her accusations, the chief prosecutor of the Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism, DIICOT, Daniel Horodniceanu, also leveled criticism at the SIE. Horodniceanu said the SIE did not help DIICOT investigate an espionage case involving former Israeli spies working for a private company called Black Cube who allegedly spied on Kovesi and her family.

In response, the SIE said Kovesi’s claims were “generated by a misunderstanding of the particularity involved in foreign intelligence/espionage work.

“The SIE does not monitor Romanian citizens abroad, as this was a practice typical of the Securitate [the former communist secret police]. The SIE doesn’t monitor bank accounts and transfers, either, or real estate or other purchases made by Romanian citizens abroad,” the SIE statement reads.

Analysts say the unprecedented attack indicates a major inter-institutional conflict in Romania. “There is a conflict between the DNA and the SIE and there is also Ms Kovesi’s wish to teach Mihai Razvan Ungureanu [the SIE chief] a lesson.

“In the last 25 years, I have not seen many institutional chiefs launch this kind of accusation in public. Such discussions have to take place indoors between institutions, in no circumstances in public,” political analyst Radu Tudor told BIRN.

Journalist Mirel Curea said the DNA chief’s accusations might well generate suspicions among Romania’s partner states in the EU and NATO that Romania’s intelligence service does, in fact, conduct espionage activities on entities such as banks and private companies. “A Romanian senior official has accused the Foreign Intelligence Service of conducting espionage activities in NATO and EU countries, which the SIE in specific protocols has expressly committed itself not to conduct,” she told the Evenimentul Zilei newspaper.

However, another political analyst, Alina Mungiu-Pippidi, said she believed that Kovesi’s accusations were entirely reasonable.

“If you assume an anti-corruption fight, then you need to have a pro-active attitude. Who is responsible for seeing whether Romanian citizens have offshore accounts? It is obvious that there is a lot of money being taken out of the country,” Mungiu-Pippidi said.

Balkan Insight

28 April 2016