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Concerns raised over Romania's anti-corruption chief nomination

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Concerns raised over Romania's anti-corruption chief nomination

Concerns raised over Romania's anti-corruption chief nomination
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Concerns have been raised over alleged links between the woman set to be Romania’s new anti-corruption chief and the ruling social democrats.

Tudorel Toader, the country’s justice minister, put forward Adina Florea to head up the country’s National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) yesterday.

It comes after he pushed for the sacking of the last person in the post, Laura Kovesi, who had been praised in the West for cracking down on graft in what is considered to be one of the EU's most-corrupt countries.

President Klaus Iohannis, a centrist politician often at odds with the ruling leftists over corruption policy, will have the final say on whether to appoint Florea, a prosecutor from Constanta.

He is likely to assess concerns over Florea’s link to the ruling social democrats, who have been the target of anti-government protests in recent months. Demonstrators have accused the social democrats of weakening Romania’s fight against corruption by decriminalising some offences.

Bianca Toma, a researcher at the Romanian Center for European Policies, told Euronews: “Too many of the arguments Florea used in her candidacy [to apply for the post] are the exact same ones frequently used by the politicians fighting to weaken anti-coruption powers.

“Also her family background — her father is an active member of the social democrats at local level — and her professional track record — lacking corruption or relevant investigations — are serious vulnerabilities.

“At least four anti-corruption prosecutors were competing for the job. The Minister of Justice decided none of them were good enough to be nominated.”

In comments that sparked widespread protests in Romania earlier this year, Toader accused Kovesi of exceeding her authority and damaging the country's image abroad.

Considered by government critics as a symbol of the fight against corruption, Kovesi has blamed politicians for attempting to block her work.

Under Kovesi, the DNA had investigated MPs, ministers and mayors, exposing conflicts of interest, abuse of power, fraud and awarding of state contracts in exchange for bribes.

Concerns over the rule of law in Romania follow similar issues in Poland and Hungary, where governments are under pressure for the EU over democratic standards.

Euronews has contacted Romania's Ministry of Justice but it did not immeditately respond to requests for comment on this article.