The Romanian parliament Tuesday voted to exempt top politicians and lawyers from corruption crimes, the EU Observer reported.
Parliament adopted the “snap amendment” without debate. It would remove from the definition of “public officials” the country’s president, senators, members of the lower chamber, as well as lawyers. The law if adopted would mean they can no longer be held accountable for abuse of office, bribery, conflicts of interest and other corruption crimes, the story said.
Past convictions for eligible non-public officials could also be expunged by the new law.
As in most countries, there are many lawyers among the government ministers, members of parliament, and in the bureaucracy.
The Romanian anti-corruption prosecutor’s office said 28 members of parliament have been convicted or are currently on trial for corruption.
“Mayors and other local officials would no longer be held liable for conflicts of interest,” the EU Observer said. The anti-corruption office said more than 100 mayors and vice-mayors are on trial for awarding public contracts to family and friends or for similar abuses.
Romanian President Traian Basescu said Tuesday he would send the bill back to parliament for more work.
But the EU Observer said the president can only send it back to parliament once, and lawmakers don’t have to take the president’s objections into account.
“I thank them for thinking about me, but I don’t need it,” Basescu said in reference to the exemption that applies to his office.
He called the parliamentary action “10 years of regress.”
Romania and its southern neighbor Bulgaria are being monitored by the European Commission to assess progress for respect for the rule of law, the fight against corruption, and control of organized crime.
Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.