Exclusive interview with Laura Codruța Kövesi: “It’s not just important to put criminals in jail, it’s important to take away their assets and to recover the damages and everything they have illegally acquired”. INTERVIEW with the head of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office
The Chief Prosecutor of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office, Laura Codruța Kövesi, who is on a visit to Moldova from 12 to 14 July, said in an interview with Ziarul de Gardă that she came with a message of support for the justice reforms initiated by the Chisinau authorities. Once Moldova has obtained the status of candidate country to the European Union, the European Public Prosecutor’s Office will closely monitor how European funds are managed, she added.
“We are paying attention to what happens with European funds not only inside the European Union, but also outside, because there are a lot of them that are passed on to third countries, and it is our responsibility to make sure that these funds are spent correctly, and when there is fraud, to investigate it. What we need to work on together with the Moldovan authorities is to detect these frauds,” said the Head of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office.
She had meetings with senior state officials and signed a Cooperation Agreement between the Moldovan Prosecutor General’s Office and the European Public Prosecutor’s Office together with acting Prosecutor General Dumitru Robu.
– You are visiting Moldova for a few days. Diplomatic custom somehow links the duration of visits to their importance. Is Moldova the object of your attention and that of the European institutions?
– First of all, thank you for the invitation to give this interview. As you know, I am a prosecutor, not a diplomat, so I follow the instincts and rules of a prosecutor. The reason why we decided to make this visit to Moldova was, first of all, to sign a Cooperation Agreement with the Prosecutor’s Office of Moldova. For two reasons: firstly, to give a signal and show the support of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office to our colleagues working in justice and, at the same time, to send a signal that we are willing to help within the limits of our competences. And a concrete step in this direction was the signing of this Cooperation Agreement, which does not change legislation, does not implement new rules, but only establishes a direct and efficient way of communication between the Moldovan Prosecutor’s Office and the European Public Prosecutor’s Office. People are probably wondering why and what is behind this agreement. It is the fact that, at this moment, Moldova has the status of a candidate country to the European Union and I would like to congratulate all Moldovans for this achievement. This means that more European money will come in, and the main task of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office is to investigate fraud with European funds.
I have already said, and I will say it again: there is no such thing as a clean country, there will certainly be fraud involving European funds on the territory of the Republic of Moldova, committed by persons belonging to Member States participating in the EPPO (European Public Prosecutor’s Office), and we certainly want to have direct and effective cooperation with our colleagues from the Republic of Moldova. Another important component of our work concerns VAT offences, smuggling, which we certainly find in Moldova, Romania and the other Member States on the external border of the EU, where we have competences, which led us to think that there will probably be situations where we will have joint investigations for these facts and therefore it is good to be in contact with our colleagues in Moldova.