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Romanian prosecutors investigate cryptocurrency funding of #resist protestors

Guest contributor

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The Directorate for Investigating Organised Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT) in Romania is investigating 403 cryptocurrency transactions.  These transactions, valued in total at 14 million US Dollars, were made over a period of three years, writes James Wilson.

The funds entered Romania in order to fund #resist groups and other NGOs who support the National Anti-Corruption Directorate (DNA), Klaus Iohannis, Dacian Ciolos and the Save Romania Union (USR) political party.  Evidence leads to a virtual wallet on the BLOCKCHAIN online platform, funded by the Stefan Batory Foundation in Poland, which itself is funded directly by billionaire George Soros.

Judicial sources informed a journalist from luju.ro that DIICOT had initiated a wide investigation regarding the funding of the #resist movement.  The reason for this investigation is that there have been concerns regarding money-laundering operations and organised crime to provoke actions against the rule of law.

Concerns include the financing of violent groups of protesters who, during 2017 and 2018 and particularly on August 10, 2018, organised actions against the constitution and article 397 of the Penal Code in an attempt to overthrow the PSD-ALDE government.

According to information gathered by DIICOT, by the end of October 2018 403 transactions were made from this wallet, for a total of 14.9 million dollars.  The money appears to have gone to organisations that promoted the street protests, which took place during the last two years in Romania, including the protests of August 10, 2018.

All of this information can be found in the virtual wallet on the BLOCKCHAIN online platform, through which crypto-currency transactions are operated. A screen shot of this wallet in the image below, which shows the total value of transactions at more than 14.9 million US dollars.

According to leads followed by investigators, the recipients of the money from the Stefan Batory Foundation wallet were not just #resist groups, but also various non-governmental organisations known to be supporters of the DNA, Klaus Iohannis, Dacian Cioloş and USR political party.

These groups include Declic, VaVedem, Coruptia Ucide, Oradea Civic, Funky Citizens, Just, Casa Jurnalistului, Vice.com or Rezistenta TV.  The latter hosted interviews with the former Chief Prosecutor of the DNA, Laura Codruţa Kovesi, Monica Macovei and Raluca Prună.

Sources from the DIICOT investigation also confirmed to luju.ro that during the weeks before the protests of August 10, hundreds of thousands of Euros were withdrawn from #resist’s bitcoin.  It is believed these funds were used for the impressive logistics used by the #resist protestors, including renting accommodations for protesters who resided in other cities, paying rent for the secret headquarters of the organisers, IT equipment, promoting messages online through social media, travel costs, pamphlets, the famous ‘Justice for All’ signs.  Large amounts from this wallet were converted directly into cash at ATMs that permit Bitcoin transactions.  Those who could access the #resist wallet used the “localbitcoins” system which allows direct exchanges between cash owners in local currency and those who wanted to convert bitcoin funds.

These revelations are casting the Romania protests in a different light and raising questions internationally about who was behind the protests and what the agenda really was.

James Wilson is a Founding Director of the International Foundation for Better Governance.

Economy

Issuance of green bonds will strengthen the international role of the euro

Catherine Feore

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Eurogroup ministers discussed the international role of the euro (15 February), following the publication of the European Commission's communication of (19 January), ‘The European economic and financial system: fostering strength and resilience’.

President of the Eurogroup, Paschal Donohoe said: “The aim is to reduce our dependence on other currencies, and to strengthen our autonomy in various situations. At the same time, increased international use of our currency also implies potential trade-offs, which we will continue to monitor. During the discussion, ministers emphasized the potential of green bond issuance to enhance the use of the euro by the markets while also contributing to achieving our climate transition objective.”

The Eurogroup has discussed the issue several times in recent years since the December 2018 Euro Summit. Klaus Regling, the managing director of the European Stability Mechanism said that overreliance on the dollar contained risks, giving Latin America and the Asian crisis of the 90s as examples. He also referred obliquely to “more recent episodes” where the dollar’s dominance meant that EU companies could not continue to work with Iran in the face of US sanctions. Regling believes that the international monetary system is slowly moving towards a multi-polar system where three or four currencies will be important, including the dollar, euro and renminbi. 

European Commissioner for the Economy, Paolo Gentiloni, agreed that the euro’s role could be strengthened through the issuance of green bonds enhancing the use of the euro by the markets while also contributing to achieving our climate objectives of the Next Generation EU funds.

Ministers agreed that broad action to support the international role of the euro, encompassing progress on amongst other things, Economic and Monetary Union, Banking Union and Capital Markets Union were needed to secure the euros international role.

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EU

European human rights court backs Germany over Kunduz airstrike case

Reuters

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An investigation by Germany into a deadly 2009 airstrike near the Afghan city of Kunduz that was ordered by a German commander complied with its right-to-life obligations, the European Court of Human Rights ruled on Tuesday (16 February), writes .

The ruling by the Strasbourg-based court rejects a complaint by Afghan citizen Abdul Hanan, who lost two sons in the attack, that Germany did not fulfil its obligation to effectively investigate the incident.

In September 2009, the German commander of NATO troops in Kunduz called in a U.S. fighter jet to strike two fuel trucks near the city which NATO believed had been hijacked by Taliban insurgents.

The Afghan government said at the time 99 people, including 30 civilians, were killed. Independent rights groups estimated between 60 and 70 civilians were killed.

The death toll shocked Germans and ultimately forced its defence minister to resign over accusations of covering up the number of civilian casualties in the run-up to Germany’s 2009 election.

Germany’s federal prosecutor general had found that the commander did not incur criminal liability, mainly because he was convinced when he ordered the airstrike that no civilians were present.

For him to be liable under international law, he would have had to be found to have acted with intent to cause excessive civilian casualties.

The European Court of Human Rights considered the effectiveness of Germany’s investigation, including whether it established a justification for lethal use of force. It did not consider the legality of the airstrike.

Of 9,600 NATO troops in Afghanistan, Germany has the second-largest contingent behind the United States.

A 2020 peace agreement between the Taliban and Washington calls for foreign troops to withdraw by May 1, but U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration is reviewing the deal after a deterioration in the security situation in Afghanistan.

Germany is preparing to extend the mandate for its military mission in Afghanistan from March 31 until the end of this year, with troop levels remaining at up to 1,300, according to a draft document seen by Reuters.

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EU

Digitalization of EU justice systems: Commission launches public consultation on cross-border judicial co-operation

EU Reporter Correspondent

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On 16 February, the European Commission launched a public consultation on the modernization of EU justice systems. The EU aims to support member states in their efforts to adapt their justice systems to the digital age and improve EU cross-border judicial co-operation. Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders (pictured) said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted the importance of digitalization, including in the field of justice. Judges and lawyers need digital tools to be able to work together faster and more efficiently.

At the same time, citizens and businesses need online tools for an easier and more transparent access to justice at a lower cost. The Commission strives to push this process forward and support member states in their efforts, including as regards facilitating their cooperation in cross-border judicial procedures by using digital channels.” In December 2020, the Commission adopted a communication outlining the actions and initiatives intended to advance the digitalization of justice systems across the EU.

The public consultation will gather views on the digitalization of EU cross-border civil, commercial and criminal procedures. The results of the public consultation, in which a broad range of groups and individuals can participate and which is available here until 8 May 2021, will feed into an initiative on digitalisation of cross-border judicial cooperation expected at the end of this year as announced in the 2021 Commission's Work Programme.

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