Dr. Camelia Bogdan, a Romanian judge on the Bucharest Court of Appeals, will speak with Amb. Lee Feinstein, the Hamilton Lugar School’s founding dean, as part of International Law & Institutions Week on Wednesday April 13. The conversation will focus on Bogdan’s prolific work combatting corruption and other transnational financial crimes in Europe.
As a scholar, Bogdan’s work includes two monographs, one PhD thesis, two guides for the Romanian magistrates on countering money laundering and financial investigations, more than 130 judicial studies published in law reviews and presented at conferences and colloquiums, and a second PhD thesis forthcoming later this year.
As a judge, Bogdan has gained an international reputation for seeking to establish the rule of law and bolster the strength of an independent judiciary in Romania, a post-Communist country that began its transition to democracy in 1989.
“Opposing corruption and kleptocracy is the brave and determined work of our guest judge, Camelia Bogdan,” says Amb. Feinstein.
Her work has not been easy. She has twice been expelled from the Romanian judiciary on politically motivated charges, first in 2017 and again in 2018. Because she was prevented from defending herself, she successfully appealed the second decision on the charge that her expulsion was arbitrary.
The harassment and firing of judges ruling on financial crimes is a chilling tactic to silence and disempower an independent judiciary, but Bogdan has not backed down. She presided over the case of high-profile billionaire oligarch Dan Voiculescu, a self-confessed collaborator with the Communist secret police force known as the Securitate. He was convicted in 2014 of money laundering, sentenced to ten years in prison and ordered to repay 100 million Euros.
“Fighting for justice in fragile democracies confronted with endemic corruption both as judge and victim is what drives me,” she told the American Interest, which listed her as one of Seven Women Who Inspire Us. “The collapse of communism three decades ago created opportunity for kleptocracy. There is no democracy without rule of law, independent courts, and accountable government. I’m passionate about these things.”
The conversation will cover not just her background but also the forms that financial crimes take in Romania and Europe. Raiding public assets, money laundering, back-to-back loans, shadow banking, and other ways of pilfering and hiding public assets are all part of her expertise.
As a Romanian and European citizen, this issue is personal for Bogdan. Using taxpayer money for private enrichment prevents developments in education, infrastructure, healthcare, and other public domains that are required for Romania to advance as a country. These risky backchannel financial transactions also put the European banking system at risk.
“In my opinion, money laundering through securitization is the most severe threat to the financial stability of the European Union,” she has said.
Bogdan is also a strong supporter of civil society, which she believes is crucial to pressure the government and the judiciary to hold perpetrators of financial crimes accountable for their attempts to undermine democratic power.
“We must show that corruption does not pay,” she has said.
Dr. Bogdan joined the Hamilton Lugar School Institute of European Studies as a visiting research fellow after a fellowship at the National Endowment for Democracy. Click here for more details on International Law & Institutions Week and the keynote conversation.