A member of Moldova’s Superior Council of the Magistracy has resigned after failing to reveal his involvement in a corruption scandal.
Iulian Muntean, a member of the Superior Council of the Magistracy (CSM), the body established to ensure Moldova’s judiciary’s independence, resigned after it was revealed he failed to reveal his involvement in a criminal corruption case related to his other role as a law professor.
The CSM oversees the recruitment, promotion, and disciplining of judges and prosecutors. The body is currently undergoing a controversial reform process.
The Council’s magistrates are currently undergoing an evaluation and vetting process, which forms a part of wider legal reforms of the legal system. The reforms are a central part of Moldova’s EU accession plans.
The scandal comes right before the European Commission reports on Moldova’s justice system, and before the European Council votes in December on whether or not to open negotiations around Moldova’s EU accession.
Muntean was appointed to the CSM on 7 September by the Moldovan parliament. He passed a pre-vetting process, but failed to provide information about his being a suspect in a 2018 criminal case.
On 20 September, it was revealed that Muntean is currently involved in a criminal investigation related to passive corruption. The information had not been presented to the Pre-Vetting Commission.
Muntean claimed that the case had been fabricated under the former government led by Vlad Plahotniuc. Plahotniuc is currently a fugitive, and the subject of several high-profile criminal cases. He fled the country in June 2019.
“This so-called file was manufactured on the order of the Plahotniuc regime, as a method of intimidating people before the elections,” said Muntean.
“In the summer of 2018, I was subjected to a search, as a result of which nothing illegal was detected… Today, we are in September 2023, more than five years have passed. During these five years, I was never called to make any statements, to be asked for any explanation. I had absolutely no contact with any prosecutor or law enforcement officer,” he continued.
The Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office has meanwhile begun investigating three employees of the National Anti-Corruption Centre (CNA), who failed to provide the Pre-Vetting Commission with complete information about Muntean’s involvement in the case.
“I find it absolutely revolting that a person has been accused for five years, and this information is not included in a single crime record system,” said the head of the legal commission of the Chisinau parliament, Olesea Stamate.
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