On May 8, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Romanian Foreign Affairs Minister Cristian Diaconescu took an important step forward in enhancing legal co-operation between the United States and Romania.
They exchanged Instruments of Ratification for the U.S.-Romania Mutual Legal Assistance Protocol and the U.S.-Romania Extradition Treaty, 2 agreements which will help both countries in fighting trans-national crime. The Extradition Treaty came into force immediately, while the mutual legal assistance agreement will take effect later this year.
"Our signing today demonstrates the growing law enforcement cooperation between the United States and Romania," said U.S. Secretary of State Clinton at the signing ceremony. "And this fruitful cooperation has already led to the prosecution of internet hackers and the seizure of tons of illicit drugs destined for Europe. The United States looks forward to not only our future cooperation, but future successes such as that."
An increasing number of lawbreakers have no respect for national borders. Last year, U.S. and Romanian law enforcement worked together to break up an illegal internet phishing scam, by which computer hackers in Romania, masquerading as a respectable banking institution in an electronic communication, stole sensitive financial data of individuals in the U.S.
The information netted through this scheme was sent to the U.S., where it was used to steal money from the victims' bank accounts, or to run up debt in their names. Some of that money was remitted back to the Romanian computer hackers. U.S. and Romanian police arrested 38 individuals who were involved in the scheme. This scam was in operation for 2 years, costing the victims hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Two years is a long time for criminals to operate. The mutual legal assistance agreement, similar to 26 others that the U.S. has signed with each member of the European Union, will allow for closer cooperation on an international level, resulting in greater efficiency and faster response to trans-border criminal activity.
"This law enforcement cooperation is in addition to our longstanding work together on global security priorities," said Secretary of State Clinton. "The agreement signed today represents yet another facet of our close and valuable relationship," she said.
The United States is working with its many partners toward a day when criminals will no longer be able to use international borders to gain impunity from criminal prosecution.