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Chișinău mayor to stay under domestic arrest for 30 more days

On September 11th, the Chișinău Court prolonged the domestic arrest of Chișinău’s suspended mayor, Dorin Chirtoacă. Moreover, the court refused the demand of Chirtoacă to participate at the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe that takes place this month in Paris.

The Liberal criticized the decision, stressing out that he would not leave the country:

“If I wanted to leave the Republic of Moldova, I would swim across Prut more than 100 times, but, as a matter of principle, my dignity does not allow me to flee the country. I hope the truth will triumph”, said Chirtoacă.

Dorin Chirtoacă was arrested on May 25th with the charge of influence traffic and passive corruption in a case on city’s parking lots. On July 28th, he was suspended from the position of mayor of Moldova’s capital until a final decision of the court.

In the parking lots case, prosecutors found that the mayor gave orders to the vice-mayor to sign the contract with EME PARKLEITSYSTEM without the approval of the City Council. Moreover, Chirtoacă reportedly approved the urban certificates for the company, contrary to the legislation.

Aside from this, the mayor, together with the head of transportation department and ex-classmate Igor Gamrețchi, asked the company willing to win the public listing for Chișinău’s parking lots to share 26% in the company through a Cyprus-based off-shore company. 13% would go to Chirtoacă, 13%- to Gamrețchi.

Chișinău’s mayor risks a sentence of 3 to 7 years.

Currently studying International Relations at the University of Pécs, Hungary. Study focus: Transnistrian conflict settlement, Moldovan statehood, Moldovan democracy.

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Justice

Maia Sandu challenges in court the refusal of prosecutors to investigate Vlad Plahotniuc for usurpation of power

The leader of the Action and Solidarity Party (PAS), Maia Sandu, challenged in court the order of a prosecutor to refuse the investigation of Vlad Plahotniuc for usurpation of power.

According to Sandu, quoted by a PAS press-release, the complaint to the court states that the prosecutor was biased in examining the penal inquiry against Plahotniuc. The given prosecutor reportedly asked only close persons and party affiliates of the Democrat oligarch and nobody who could make statements against him. Moreover, the fact that Plahotniuc himself wasn’t requested to come for a hearing raises problems of credibility towards the way the penal inquiry was examined.

The PAS leader believes that prosecution and justice institutions are subordinated to Vladimir Plahotniuc.

Despite the fact he holds no governmental position, Vlad Plahotniuc is known for his control over the Government, judiciary branch, prosecution system and the anti-corruption bodies through his proxy Democratic Party, vassal-parties and particular persons in the top of management of Moldovan state institutions. Vlad Plahotniuc is often called the one and only oligarch left in Moldova, the grey eminence or the puppeteer of Moldovan politics. He was officially elected as the leader of the Democratic Party at the 8th Congress in December 2016. He might be under penal investigation in Romania for allegations of organized crime, blackmailing, money laundering and fraud.

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Vlad Plahotniuc investigated in Romania for organized crime, blackmailing, money laundering and fraud

The Democrat leader and oligarch, Vlad Plahotniuc, is reportedly investigated by Romania’s Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism based on the testimony delivered by the Moldovan businessman Veaceslav Platon in August 2016.

Buying shares together in Victoriabank and now-inexistent Banca de Economii

According to the leaked testimony and the corresponding prosecution order, Platon accused Plahotniuc of forcing him to participate in the acquisition of shares of Victoriabank, Banca de Economii, SA Asito, Victoria Asigurări, SA Alfa Engineering. Moreover, Plahotniuc is said to have influenced the National Bank of Moldova to block one major shareholder of Victoriabank that allowed the selling of his shares later on the market with a lower price. The Democrat oligarch allegedly got the shares in his possession through proxies like the Parliament speaker Andrian Candu, his close partner Sergey Yaralov, Vladimir Andronache and other persons from the circle of the Democratic Party of Moldova.

Platon, condemned in Moldova to 18 years of prison for frauds and money laundering, complained to the Romanian prosecutors that his multiple letters of complaints and demands were ignored by the National Bank and the investigation organs in Moldova, presumably under Vlad Plahotniuc’s influence.

Plahotniuc’s three citizenships and changing identities

In his confession, Veaceslav Platon, known also as Kobalev, underlined that Plahotniuc used several identities in the Republic of Moldova (Vladimir Plahotniuc), Romania (Vlad Plahotniuc, Vlad Ulinici), and the Russian Federation (Vladimir Plahotniuc). The oligarch was and probably is still a citizen of all three states.

Based on Platon’s statements, Romanian Prosecutor Raluca Negulescu launched a penal investigation on the fact of constituting an organized crime group, blackmailing, fraud and money laundering. The investigation is possible because Plahotniuc is a Romanian citizen. The order of launching penal investigation against Vlad Plahotniuc dates back to 17 April 2017.

Platon’s testimony was submitted on 3 August 2016, when Plahotniuc’s former business partner was under arrest in Kyiv, Ukraine.

Romania’s Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism has not issued a statement on the leaks yet.

What did Platon do (according to the Moldovan prosecution system)?

Veaceslav Platon was accused of benefiting from high-risk loans from the former Banca de Economii in the value of 800 million lei: 130 million lei, 12 million USD and 5 million euros. He was arrested by the SBU of Ukraine on July 25th. Businessman Veaceslav Platon was extradited from Ukraine to Moldova on August 29th, 2016 with a charter flight, for which the Moldovan Interior Ministry claimed to have paid only 1690 US dollars. Some say that the half-legal extradition was personally ordered by the Democrat leader and oligarch Vlad Plahotniuc. Anticorupție found that the charter flight used for the extradition cost around 15 thousand US dollars.

Who is Vlad Plahotniuc, de facto?

Despite the fact he holds no governmental position, Vlad Plahotniuc is known for his control over the Government, judiciary branch, prosecution system and the anti-corruption bodies through his proxy Democratic Party, vassal-parties and particular persons in the top of management of Moldovan state institutions. Vlad Plahotniuc is often called the one and only oligarch left in Moldova, the grey eminence or the puppeteer of Moldovan politics. He was officially elected as the leader of the Democratic Party at the 8th Congress in December 2016.

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Justice

Moldova Justice Minister proposes new conditions for judges’ terms, Supreme Council of Magistrates

On November 7th, the Justice Minister of Moldova, Vladimir Cebotari, proposed a Constitutional amendment regarding the terms of judges, the procedure of their appointing and new conditions for membership within the Supreme Council of Magistrates. The Government approved the legislative initiative, which now has to be sent to the Parliament.

According to Cebotari, the adoption of this draft law is a step forward towards the independence of the judicial system.

The main provisions of this amendment are:

  • the first term limit of 5 years is eliminated in favor of unlimited appointing until touching the maximum age;
  • the President can reject a candidate judge only once instead of two times;
  • the length of the mandate of the members of the Supreme Council of Magistrates is increased from 4 to 6 years;
  • the General Prosecutor and the Justice Minister would be no longer members of the Supreme Council of Magistrates;
  • the members of the above-mentioned Council would not be allowed to have more than 2 consecutive mandates;
  • the presidents, vice-presidents, and the judges of the Supreme Court of Justice would not be required to have at least 10 years of experience;
  • the procedure of forming the budget of the judicial institutions would have to be coordinated with the Supreme Council of Magistrates.

On 11 October 2017, the European Union announced the decision not to transfer any funds to the budgetary support for justice reforms in Moldova because of observed inefficient use of funds during 2014 and 2015, but also little commitment to delivering real reforms. Thus, the 28 million euros for 2017 were not transferred to the Moldovan Government.

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