The rule of law offers protection for citizens. It prevents the authority to use their power arbitrarily and provides protection for the citizens. We are all equal before the law. This is what all law books usually teach us. But are citizens really protected by the rule of law when the justice is in the hands of a very small group of people?
People of Moldova don’t trust the Moldovan justice. An opinion poll conducted by USAID in 2018 showed that only 16% of population trust the justice of the Republic of Moldova, whereas 19% of people trust the Moldovan judges, 20% trust prosecutors, 33% trust lawyers and 28% of the population consider that they can count on policemen.
The authors of the study showed that the perception of corruption is even greater in the case of those who have had to deal with the judiciary system. More than half of the respondents think that an average citizen gets behind bars faster than the one who has money.
Moldovan lawyers who work in the judicial system and have an inside information consider it relatively corrupt and unfair as well. More than 60% of Moldovan lawyers believe that the justice sector is still corrupt, and 19% believe corruption is widespread even at the level of the leadership of the institutions, according to a survey conducted in 2019 at the request of the Centre for Legal Resources in Moldova cited by Ziarul de Gardă.
“When people see resonant cases where the violation of the basic human rights happened, such as the right of examining cases in a public trial, obviously they think: they do this in the case of people who held positions, but what would happen in my case if I get to court?” declared the expert of the Centre for Legal Resources in Moldova, Nadejda Hriptievschi, for RFE/RL.
Well, it seems that today, being a state official in the Republic of Moldova and making some inconvenient statements about the government puts you in great danger. Some experts call it a beginning of dictatorship, others an oligarchy in its most pervert form. No matter what it is called. Its consequences are important.
Recently, the former employee of the National Post Service, Sergiu Cebotari, made an in-court testimony regarding the schemes from 2016 of trafficking anabolic steroids through the postal service of the country. He was sentenced to eight years in prison in a semi-open regime penitentiary and had to pay damages of 299 thousand lei, in a criminal case for embezzling foreign property and using forced labour. Sergiu Cebotari left the country before being sentenced, being declared politically persecuted, according to the statements of the leader of the Dignity and Truth Platform Party (DTPP), Andrei Năstase. The accused didn’t confess and claimed that the file was politically charged.
A similar recent case was registered for a former border policeman, the DTPP activist and a former parliamentary candidate, Gheorghe Petic, who was sentenced to three years and six months in a semi-opened regime prison and had to pay a fine of 30,000 lei in a criminal case for rape and domestic violence. The hearings were held behind the close doors and the victim filed testimony in court in the absence of Petic. The accused had no opportunity to ask questions, as his lawyer, Angela Istrate, declared.
Gheorghe Petic believes that the criminal prosecution on his name is caused by his statements on cigarette smuggling schemes, involving the leadership of the Border Police of Moldova and of Romania. “After I disclosed the smuggling schemes, my family and I started to be intimidated. I was called an FSB agent, a smuggler, I was attacked at a parking lot in Ungheni, accused of harassing my so-called students whom I didn’t even know,” declared Petic cited by Newsmaker.
He also announced that his e-mail and his Facebook page had been broken and that a post was published from his name stating that he supported the DTPP only for financial rewards.
In the meantime, a new hearing will be held in another file addressing Gheorghe Petic, as Ziarul de Gardă reported. This time, Petic is being investigated for hooliganism. According to Petic’s lawyer, the case was recently opened on the basis of an event that occurred in 2003.
“They have found dubious people who do not even remember how the events happened. They made false statements. It’s an absurd accusation without any evidence, based only on statements of some dubious people who are not sure in what year the incident took place and how it happened. In the absence of conclusive evidence, I am guilty of committing an act of hooliganism in 2004, when it was actually in 2003. But because the limitation period was over, they decided to change and open the file in 2004,” Gheorghe Petic previously declared.
In February 2019, Ziarul de Gardă wrote about differentiated approaches in the cases of Gheorghe Petic and Ilan Șor, both of them being election candidates and both of them being investigated in criminal cases. The difference is that in case of Gheorghe Petic the court decided not to release Gheorghe Petic from arrest, even though he was a registered candidate on the lists of the political bloc ACUM at the parliamentary elections in 2019.
In the case of Ilan Șor, four years ago, the court decided to release him from home arrest, so as not to hinder his right to candidate for mayor of Orhei. Ilan Şor was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison, but because the sentence is not final, the politician is still free.
“During the electoral period, the candidates can’t be dismissed or transferred to another job or position without their consent and can’t be found criminally liable, arrested, detained and can’t be a subject to administrative sanctions without the consent of the electoral body that registered them, with except for flagrant offenses,” says the Electoral Code of the Republic of Moldova.
There are a lot of questions raised regarding the reasons why the Kroll 2 report was not published yet and why the list of people involved in the Great Moldovan Bank Robbery ended when Veaceslav Palton and Vladimir Filat were imprisoned.
“The Kroll 2 report is kept secret and nobody has access to it, as if it were the atom bombs launch codes. Only few names are kept so well and so much in our country. Usually, all secrets are revealed much faster. It’s the name of Vlad Plahotniuc that could be so fiercely protected. The government has only one method to prove the opposite – to publish the Kroll 2 report,” Dumitru Alaiba, the member of the political bloc ACUM, wrote in a Facebook post.
According to the World Justice Project (WJP) Report for 2019, the Republic of Moldova is comparable to China and Vietnam when it comes to the Rule of Law Index, calculated based on 8 factors: constraints on government powers, absence of corruption, open government, fundamental rights, order and security, regulatory enforcement, civil justice, and criminal justice.
The Kroll 2 Report: 77 of Ilan Shor’s companies received $2,900,000,000 in loans
Kroll was contracted by the National Bank of Moldova on January 28, 2015, in order to investigate money laundering frauds in three banks: Banca de Economii, Banca Sociala and Unibank. The amount of the contract was not made public. The Kroll 2 report, published by the parliamentary investigation commission on bank fraud, spans 154 pages. However more details, such as company or person names, have been deleted.
At the same time, the report does not contain the list of beneficiaries of bank fraud. Kroll 2 presents the schemes where bad loans were offered, but also how these funds have later circulated. The report contains the list of the 77 companies within the URB group, as well as the loans they have taken from the Moldovan banks.
In interviews, they were experts at Kroll with employees at Banca de Economii, and it was found that many relevant materials related to loans offered to Ilan Shor’s group were destroyed in suspicious circumstances of a fire in late November 2014.
The report states that between 1 January 2012 and 26 November 2014, the Banca de Economii, Banca Sociala and Unibank offered $2.9 billion in loans to companies in the Shor Group.
Money earned on loans was redirected to foreign accounts in the Latvian banks ABVL and Privatbank, through which they were laundered. These accounts appear to be open only for this purpose because they did not record any other transactions.
Another part of the loans was transferred to the bank accounts of the Republic of Moldova, Russia, but also other jurisdictions.
The loans went through a coordinated money-laundering process and then disappeared into several bank accounts.
Part of the loans offered to the companies in the Shor group remained in Moldova. The tracking of the initial destination of the funds showed that the amounts remained in the accounts held at the three banks or were transferred to other banks in Moldova to pay for other loans. At the same time, more money was mixed with other funds, so it was impossible to track them later.
Out of the 2.9 billion US dollars, Kroll points out that about 220 million US dollars remained in the Republic of Moldova and were used to repay loans from the Banca Sociala, Banca de Economii and Unibank, and other banks.
The full Kroll 2 report can be read here:
Igor Dodon reveals: Over the last week, $50,000,000 has left Moldova
President Igor Dodon announced that during the last week, $50,000,000 (1 bn lei) had been removed from the country. The head of state refused to give details but said that those involved are “close people from Plahotniuc’s entourage.”
The statement was made on Tuesday in an interview with Cotidianul.md. According to Igor Dodon, the information arrived on Monday, suggesting that it was presented by the SIS, where the new leadership began.
In this context, the president said that he is being pressured at the moment, threatening messages are being sent to him, warning not to interfere with criminal schemes.
Several properties registered with Finpar Invest Ltd., a core company in Vladimir Plahotniuc’s real estate, were seized by law enforcement in a money-laundering file. The stake in the scene was set by the Crime Recovery Agency on June 26, two weeks after the Democratic leader and oligarch Plahotniuc left the country.
RISE Moldova managed to identify some of the seized properties. These include the Nobil luxury hotel and the studios where TV stations operate: Prime, Publika, Canal 2 and Canal 3.
Thus, RISE Moldova managed to identify some of Finpar’s properties and seized at the request of the CNA officers. They have a total value of about 100,000 lei.
Hotel Nobil – a business that Plahotniuc publicly acknowledged as “one of the investments I am proud of.” It is located in the center of Chisinau, it has 5 stars, an area of 3,500 square meters and a cadastral value of 40,000,000 lei, with all the terrain.
Other Finpar goods that have come to the forefront of law enforcement are virtually located in the same courtyard with the Nobil Hotel. It’s about an apartment and a few commercial spaces, all with a surface of about 1000 square meters.
The General Media Group studios in Moldexpo, which host TV channels: Prime, Publika, Canal 2 and Canal 3, as well as radio stations: Publika FM and MuzFM.
The studios are spread over an area of almost 8000 square meters and are worth about 30,000,000 lei. The land over one hectare is not owned by Finpar, but the company is being tried with the Public Property Agency for its privatization.
In a discussion with RISE reporter, Mihai Pocnea, the manager of Finpar Invest, denied this information and says he has not received any documents in this respect.
Finpar Invest SRL was founded in 1993 and was originally named the Center for the Prevention of Minor Offenses. Among the initial associations were Oxana Childescu and Vera Morozan – the former wife and Vladimir Plahotniuc’s sister, respectively.
Subsequently, Finpar was taken over by offshore companies but represented by a proxy of people in Plahotniuc’s entourage, including Andrian Candu, the former Speaker of Parliament.
The full RISE investigation can be read HERE.
We recall that some Democratic Party of Moldova leadership, all the vice-presidents and the secretary-general have resigned. The decision was taken at the meeting of the Democratic Party National Political Council on 29 June and was sent to a press conference by Pavel Filip.
Vlad Plahotniuc risks life inprisonment amid drug trafficking accusations from Russia
No, this isn’t an article about politics. Recently, Russia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs has accused Vlad Plahotniuc, oligarch and former Democratic Party leader, of leading an international drug cartel. According to the Russian investigators, he was involved in providing Moroccan hashish, through Spain, all the way to Russia.
Because of that, Plahotniuc risks life imprisonment. The same accusations have been brought against former DPM deputy Constantin Ţuţu – the investigation considers that he was an accomplice of Plahotniuc and gave the instructions of the drug cartel, writes RBK.ru.
“Today, investigators of the Department of Investigations of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, filed charges with the former President of the Democratic Party of Moldova Vladimir Plahotniuc and his trusted person – a professional athlete Constantin Ţuţu – for committing an offense under Article 210 (1) and (2) of the Criminal Code the organization of a criminal community),” said the Russian Interior Ministry’s official source.
Plahotniuc is also accused of 28 cases of smuggling and illegal sale of narcotic drugs in particularly large proportions.
In the course of the investigation, it was found that the former President of the Democratic Party of Moldova, Vlad Plahotniuc, “having the capacity to influence the political situation and the authorities in Chisinau, through criminal methods of influencing persons, aiming at personal enrichment, entered into a criminal conspiracy with the leaders of the criminal group in Moldova”.
According to available information, as of 2012, Plahotniuc has become one of the leaders of transnational drug transport.
The investigators also managed to gather evidence of a personal meeting of Vlad Plahotniuc with the criminal leaders Oleg Pruteanu, Alexandr Stegherescu alias Shasha-Sportivul and the Spanish citizen Manuel Silvio de la Paz, alias “Lolo”, in which “during the negotiations of which they discussed the amount of hashish delivered, the cost of purchasing, transit, storage, sale price, and the size of their income.”
Interaction with the organizer of the criminal community, Oleg Pruteanu, as well as direct control over this area of criminal activity, directed by Vladimir Plahotniuc, were exercised by the professional Moldavian sportsman, former deputy in the Parliament, Constantin Ţuţu, writes the quoted source.
This is not the first charge against Plahotniuc in Russia.
In February, the Russian Interior Ministry accused Democratic Party leader Vladimir Plahotniuc and businessman Veaceslav Platon of organizing an international criminal group and illegal withdrawal of money from the Russian Federation. But there is more on that here and here.
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