Justice Minister calls for resignation of new member of the Superior Council of Magistracy, indicted in 2018 corruption case
The Minister of Justice, Veronica Mihailov-Moraru, has issued a reaction to the scandal involving the new non-judge member of the Superior Council of Magistracy (SCM), Iulian Muntean. The minister argues that his failure to indicate in that Pre-Vetting Commission questionnaire that he had been a defendant in a criminal case “raises serious doubts about his integrity”.
Thus, says Veronica Mihailov-Moraru, “in order not to discredit his image and efforts in justice reform as a whole, his withdrawal or resignation is imperative”.
“We have carefully followed the statements of the institutions concerned regarding the information that one of the members of the SCM, recently appointed by the Parliament, is accused in a corruption case. It is welcome that parliamentary hearings are to be held on this matter in order to clarify all the circumstances and to take appropriate action.
One thing is certain, if the SCM member concerned did not indicate in that pre-vetting committee questionnaire that he was a defendant in a criminal case, it casts serious doubts on his integrity. Thus, in order not to discredit the image and the efforts made in justice reform as a whole, his withdrawal or resignation is required,” the Justice Minister said in a post on her Facebook page.
On Thursday, 21 September, the Pre-Vetting Commission came up with clarifications in the context of information that appeared in the public space, regarding Iulian Muntean, candidate for the position of member of the Superior Council of Magistracy (CSM), who passed the extraordinary evaluation on 14 August 2023, and was appointed by Parliament to the Superior Council of Magistracy on 7 September 2023, in the sense that he is allegedly accused in a criminal corruption trial dating back to 2018. According to the published press release, “throughout the evaluation process, the Commission has not been informed of any investigations or criminal proceedings involving Iulian Muntean”.
In order to assess the financial and ethical integrity of candidates, the Pre-Vetting Commission claims that, by law, it collects data from numerous public and private sources, including the National Anti-Corruption Centre and the Intelligence and Security Service.
“In none of the information provided to the Commission was there any reference to criminal investigations of the candidate or to the candidate’s procedural-criminal status as a defendant.
The fact that Iulian Muntean was on the list of candidates for the SCM was publicly known. Thus, there was nothing to prevent the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office or other public institutions and individuals from informing the Commission during the evaluation process about ongoing proceedings in which the candidate was allegedly involved. As of 21 September 2023, the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office has not provided any information in this regard,” according to the Pre-Vetting Commission.
The Legal Committee has announced parliamentary hearings on Monday 25 September on the subject of the information on the criminal case allegedly involving the newly appointed SCM member, said MP Olesea Stamate.
The family of the new non-judge member of the SCM, Iulian Muntean, who supported the integrity assessment despite having the status of a corruption defendant in a 2018 case, and was appointed by Parliament, was involved in the electoral campaign of the Action and Solidarity Party (PAS) for the parliamentary elections of 11 July 2021.
Lawyer Iulian Muntean’s wife, Neli Muntean, has been a member of PAS since September 2021, i.e. after the elections. The information was confirmed for ZdG by the spokeswoman of the ruling party Adriana Vlas. However, Iulian Muntean, who also handed out election materials on behalf of PAS, was not previously a member of the party, according to the same sources.