BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Romania's anti-corruption chief prosecutor said Thursday the agency prosecuted 1,250 cases last year, including a former prime minister and five former ministers, the highest single-year total since the anti-corruption drive began in 2013.
Prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi, presenting the annual report of her agency which has conducted a fierce anti-graft campaign, said courts last year ordered 200 million euros ($220 million) to be returned to the state.
The office reported a conviction rate of 92 percent.
Kovesi, appointed in 2013, said there should be no let-up in the anti-corruption fight. "Results show that there are major vulnerabilities which are a danger for our... society," she said.
"Corruption has dramatic effects and can be seen in repetitive acts," she said, adding that without the means and mechanisms to prevent and control corruption the kind of corruption under investigation "will be repeated."
Justice Minister Raluca Pruna, praising the agency's performance and Kovesi, announced that the 42-year-old chief prosecutor will be reappointed when her term expires in May.
Kovesi said the 135 prosecutors in her office would focus this year on corruption in the justice system, local corruption, corruption in public acquisitions and health care, and fraud in European Union funds, combined with efforts to recuperate losses.
President Klaus Iohannis, Prime Minister Dacian Ciolos, top magistrates, a U.S. diplomat and the intelligence agency chief gathered for the high-profile event, broadcast live by television stations.
The agency enjoys a high level of public support, something reflected on the streets of the capital Thursday. "The anti-corruption fight is very good because it stops the ones who earned their fortunes in an illegal way," said Constantin Popescu, 60.
Former Prime Minister Victor Ponta, who resigned in November, is currently on trial for corruption-related charges related to the work he did as a lawyer from 2007-2008. He denies wrongdoing.