In the 15 years since the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) entered into force, every December 9, we recognize efforts to combat corruption. Fighting corruption is hard – it takes courageous people who dedicate their work to drafting strong laws, exposing wrongdoers, prosecuting corrupt individuals, and organizing popular efforts to stand against this scourge. Romania has no greater partner than the United States, and we stand ready to work together to combat corruption.
This year, for the first time, the U.S. Embassy is recognizing three Anticorruption Champions who have worked tirelessly to combat corruption in Romania. These individuals have worked tirelessly and endured personal hardship to expose and prosecute corruption. They each provide excellent examples of the difference individuals can make in our efforts to hold corrupt actors to account:
National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) Prosecutor Adrian-George Matei currently serves as a deputy chief prosecutor of DNA’s Section to Combat Corruption. In the highest-profile corruption case of the last decade, Matei successfully prosecuted one of the most powerful public official in Romania, former Social Democratic Party (PSD) Chairman Liviu Dragnea, culminating in Dragnea’s incarceration in May 2019. Matei also led the prosecution in the conviction of media mogul Dan Adamescu, who continues to pursue a wide-ranging character assassination campaign against Matei.
Journalist Emilia Sercan published a series of investigations that uncovered a high-level ring of fraudulent PhDs at the National Intelligence Academy Mihai Viteazu. In her media reports, she revealed that 20 high-ranking public officials, including cabinet-level officials, who obtained doctoral degrees with plagiarized dissertations. Sercan’s revelations have led to positive changes in procedures for awarding PhDs, including stricter criteria for enrolling in doctoral studies and defending dissertations, and the re-establishment of the National Committee for Checking Plagiarism Allegations in Doctoral Dissertations (CNATDCU) in 2016. Sercan’s efforts have not only helped restore confidence in academic institutions, they have also helped ensure that those bearing the degrees are truly qualified.
Journalist and RISE Project Co-founder Mihai Munteanu is a pioneer in investigative journalism, having exposed numerous cases of bribery, money laundering, political corruption, organized crime, and human trafficking, who also reports for the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), both internationally recognized reporting consortia. Munteanu also served as editor of a series of RISE Project reports, including #TeleormanLeaks, which traced Liviu Dragnea’s corruption and money laundering schemes in Teleorman County.