How do we curb corruption in Moldova after the “theft of the century”
29 Jun 2017 by Olga Crivoliubic
After the "theft of the century", when one billion USD – the equivalent of 12% of Moldova’s GDP, has vanished without any trace, corruption became an emergency condition in the former soviet republic. According to the Corruption Perception Index for 2016, the Republic of Moldova is one of the most corrupt countries in Europe, and two-thirds of Moldovans think that corruption is one of the biggest problems in the country.
We at UNDP are aware that coordinated measures to prevent corruption are more efficient than the fight against the consequences of the phenomenon. That is why, we have developed an anticorruption initiative which comes up with improved and innovative mechanisms to prevent corruption.
How does all that this translates in real life?
We started with developing the National Integrity and Anti-Corruption Strategy for 2017-2020*. We involved experts and civil society representatives in the process. And, yes, we think that strategic document has the potential to diminish the corruption level in the Republic of Moldova, if it is properly implemented. Why? Because the new anti-corruption policy document will focus on the enforcement of the legal and regulatory framework in the area, and not that much on legal adjustments as it used to happen in the previous years. Another novelty of the Strategy invokes the world trends in tackling the corruption phenomenon and paradigm change: from anti-corruption to creating and enhancing the integrity climate in the society.
We did not stop here. When we talk about corruption, we cannot but refer also to the illegal assets, especially those obtained as a result of corruption acts and money laundering. How are these assets recovered in the Republic of Moldova? We asked for an answer one of the most prestigious international institutions in the field of asset recovery. The international expertise established that the lack of an integrated policy to manage and recover the illegal proceeds in the Republic of Moldova makes it difficult to collect evidence, seize, confiscate, and recover the illegal assets. Hence, the need to set an authority, which would ensure necessary financial investigation and would be responsible for the entire chain of illegal asset recovery, became a priority.
It was a novelty for Moldova when with the assistance of the UNDP, the law on establishing the Criminal Assets Recovery Agency within the National Anti-Corruption Center was approved and the related legislation was modified – all these contributing to advancing the Government’s Anti-Corruption Agenda.
As the corruption risks’ assessment proved to be one of the key prevention tools, we at UNDP Moldova, have supported the National Anti-Corruption Center of the Republic of Moldova in assessing the corruption risks in three key sectors: public procurements, private sector and local public administration of Chisinau municipality, the capital city of the Republic of Moldova. The most recent study estimated corruption risks for the services provided by the local administration in Chisinau at over 580 thousand USD annually. Besides the deep analysis of the corruption costs, the study provided recommendations for mitigating those 57 identified risks. According to the experts’ estimates, this evaluation report represents a successful triangular cooperation involving civil society, National Anti-Corruption Center, and Mayoralty of Chisinau municipality. As a result of this cooperation initiated with the UNDP’s assistance, the mayor of Chisinau adopted a comprehensive integrity plan for the mayoralty covering 101 actions, which is envisaged to be enforced by the second half of 2018. In case of the other two aforementioned evaluations, the authors provided innovative solutions for enhancing integrity and diminishing corruption risks in these sectors; such as introduction of a “red flags” system of fraud and corruption indicators in the area of public procurements and a sample code of conduct for employers and employees of small and medium enterprises.
We know that changes do not occur over the night and that corruption decreases over a long and cumbersome process in all the countries. It is important that the Republic of Moldova declared war against corruption and needs our support. We committed ourselves to fight together and if you have any advice on how we can do it better, please give your feedback.
* The new Integrity and National Anti-Corruption Strategy was approved at the end of March 2017 and covers 127 actions focused on deterring corruption acts.