The new member of the Superior Council of Magistracy (SCM), Iulian Muntean, who is accused of corruption in a 2018 case, announces that he “believes he will submit his resignation request”.
Muntean came up with clarifications on social media, mentioning that in order to participate in the competition for the position of non-judge member of the SCM, he submitted his “clean criminal record”, without further statements.
“The questionnaire on ethical integrity to be filled in voluntarily by candidates and sent to the Commission by the end of June 1, 2023 by email to: email@example.com – it is a questionnaire that can/cannot be filled in (some candidates refused to fill in this form and passed the pre-vetting). I filled it in for the first time. Moreover, I signed and explicitly gave my consent to the processing of personal data, having nothing to hide.
To question 1 “Have you ever been party to any civil, misdemeanour or criminal case?” of the Questionnaire, my answer was YES, indicating all existing cases and which were in the databases. About the case in question, I was informed by the lawyer that it was closed and should not be mentioned anywhere. The case should be forgotten.
2) I don’t know what and how the Pre-Vetting Committee checked, was I favoured or not, but how do you consider that: 4 rounds of questions, 19 questions, 70 sub-questions, 48 requests for additional documents and more than 110 confirmatory documents sent; does it imply favouritism? I don’t think so.
3) Yes, it is a case considered criminal because it is a criminal group, over 60 – 80 people (half of all ASEM staff, 90% of which are teachers and ASEM administration members). I reiterate, I have not been detained, all my assets have been returned, I have had one contact with the PA, in September 2018, and respectively, so far the file has not been sent to court, not to mention any court ruling against the undersigned. Furthermore, the lawyer confirmed to me in 2019, after the election, that the case has been closed, it is not in any database. In the CNA Report 2016-2021 presented in the plenary of Parliament in the section on criminal schemes and groups this case was not. However, the CNA itself in its communication says that it was not possible to identify this data due to the lack of registration of this ordinance in the Register.
4) To answer who kept this case under wraps, I suggest you look at the 2019 election campaign in the single-member constituency of r. Straseni, and I think you will get all the answers.
5) I think many cases are swept. This is how the PA worked in those times, possibly not cooperating with other state bodies, but only upon request, or possibly intentionally delivering information. And I wonder for what purpose? Wasn’t half a year enough to intervene with necessary information and not to compromise the work of the Pre-Vetting commission, nobody prohibited them to intervene? Really, I would have been glad if they had intervened.
6) I was not, am not a member of any political party.
7) In order not to compromise the work of the SCM, I think I will submit my resignation request to the Secretariat of the Parliament”, explained Iulian Muntean.
Two days after information about the 2018 corruption case involving Iulian Muntean appeared in the public space, the other members of the Council issued a statement expressing their concern that Muntean had provided the Pre-Vetting Committee with “incorrect or incomplete information about an ongoing investigation initiated as early as 2018”. In this regard, the SCM members indicated that the best solution for Iulian Muntean would be to submit a resignation request.
The nine members of the SCM said they were also concerned that “although it had been known for several months that Iulian Muntean had been subject to checks before the Pre-vetting Commission, this information was nevertheless communicated to the public by state institutions only now, two weeks after his appointment as a member of the SCM for a six-year term”.
“(…) Like the whole of society, the members of the SCM were not aware of these circumstances until 20 September 2023 (…). The SCM also expresses its concern that Mr Muntean may have provided incorrect or incomplete information regarding an ongoing investigation initiated as early as 2018.
We, the members of the SCM, declare that we cannot allow a member of the Superior Council of Magistracy to bypass the extraordinary evaluation procedures, which have quite clear and rigorous requirements. In the absence of a justification and credible explanations regarding these circumstances, which led him not to communicate his status as a defendant in a criminal case, we believe that the best solution for Iulian Muntean would be to submit a request for resignation.
Provided that high ethical standards and standards of conduct are required before the entire judiciary, we cannot allow their integrity to be assessed by persons who did not behave sincerely and honestly during the extraordinary evaluation procedure,” a SCM statement said.
On Friday 22 September, Justice Minister Veronica Mihailov-Moraru came out with a reaction to the scandal involving the new non-judge member of the SCM, Iulian Muntean. The minister said that his failure to indicate in the Pre-Vetting Commission’s questionnaire that he had appeared as a defendant in a criminal case “raises serious doubts about his integrity”. Thus, “in order not to discredit his image and efforts in justice reform as a whole”, she recommended his “withdrawal or resignation” from office.
On 21 September, the Pre-Vetting Commission came up with clarifications in the context of information that appeared in the public space regarding Iulian Muntean, a 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.
Subsequently, the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office said it was not asked by the Pre-Vetting Commission to provide information on candidate Iulian Muntean “as was done in the case of other candidates”.
The family of the new non-judge member of the SCM, Iulian Muntean, who passed the integrity assessment despite having a status of a corruption indictment in a 2018 case, and was appointed by the Parliament, was involved in the election campaign of the Action and Solidarity Party (PAS) for the July 11, 2021 parliamentary elections.
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.