Elected French-Romanian politician in Bucharest accused of conflict of interest for a project against corruption

Clotilde Armand, mayor of a sector in Bucharest municipality, is suspected by the National Integrity Agency of conflict of interest for having appointed herself manager of, and receiving compensation for, a project funded by the European Union meant to reduce corruption.

Municipality of Bucharest building - Sector 1
Municipality of Bucharest building – Sector 1 | © Primăria Sectorului 1, Facebook

The National Integrity Agency of Romania accuses Clotilde Armand, a French-Romanian national elected mayor of one of the six administrative units in Bucharest, of conflict of interest. She signed her appointment as manager of a project against corruption funded by the European Union. Ms. Armand assures it was approved by competent authorities.

According to a statement published November 7 by the National Integrity Agency (ANI) of Romania, Clotilde Armand was appointed project manager of a program funded by the European Union and received compensation for the job on top of being paid for her mayor position in Bucharest.

Between February and August 2022, she signed five provisions in which she became the project manager and increased her monthly allowance. She received an additional 18,720 lei (3,828 dollars) in four months, which is already equivalent to her monthly compensation for the position as a sector mayor.

As such, it notified the prosecutor’s office of the High Court of Cassation and Justice regarding “indications of a crime of using a position to favor certain persons.”

The project is meant to “improve local administrative capacity on development, implementation and promotion of anti-corruption measures” by supporting the department against corruption in the Sector 1 Bucharest municipality on preventive measures against corruption. To be carried out between March 2022 and May 2023, the project costs 358,225 lei (73,245 dollars).

According to Romanian laws quoted by ANI, a mayor position in the municipality of Bucharest is incompatible with any other public functions of remunerated activity in Romania or abroad, except for teaching positions or positions in associations, foundations or other non-governmental organizations.

Clotilde Armand was elected mayor of Sector 1, one of the wealthiest administrative units of Bucharest, in 2020. The French woman was born in 1973 in the French department and Caribbean archipelago of Guadeloupe. She married a Romanian she met during her studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She has Romanian citizenship. She used to work for Airbus and was the head of Romanian and Bulgarian operations of the French engineering company Egis before entering politics in 2016.

She is a member of the Save Romania Union, the third largest and new political party of Romania, close to center-right ideas and largely made up of former civilians who position strongly against corruption.

On a Facebook post, Ms. Armand assured she complied with the law because this appointment relates to projects financed from European non-reimbursable funds. She quotes parts of Romanian legislation that also state she would be eligible for up to a 25 percent increase in such a situation.

She’s got the highest raise on a four-month average, either with 20 percent or 30 percent increases between April and July, according to Adevărul. She also cut the part of the law mentioning that public officials with control functions over the activity or who are part of the project team with activities creating a conflict of interest with the public position they hold are excluded from this possibility.

Nevertheless, she claims having received confirmation of her eligibility from officials at the Romanian ministry of Investment and European Projects, which mediates access to European non-reimbursable funds, and that verification and validation were made by competent authorities before the appointment.

She added she “was glad authorities are vigilant and doing their job” and was aware a member of the National Liberal Party, the largest conservative party of Romania, in Sector 1 “had complained to ANI in a desperate attempt to harass me.”

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Îmbunătăţirea capacităţii administrative locale privind dezvoltarea, implementarea şi promovarea măsurilor anticorupţie, Sector 1 Bucharest municipality, PDF

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