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Justice

Igor Dodon reveals: Over the last week, $50,000,000 has left Moldova

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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.

Justice

A new platform for reporting corruption and abuses of authorities was launched – Anonim.md

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On December 11th, the platform Anonim.md – an online platform for reporting corruption anonymously – was launched by the Public Association “Jurists for Human Rights”. On this platform, Moldovan citizens are able to report abuses, corruption cases and misconducts committed by authorities or public institutions. The platform was developed by Code for Romania, within the pale of the Project “Promoting the Public’s Right to Know in Moldova”, being financially supported by the United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF).

Anonim.md is a software designed to gather sensitive materials – printed documents, audio or video files, directing them to the non-governmental organisations (NGOs), media institutions and journalists registered in the program. Thus, any person could be the initiator of a journalistic investigation, as far as trustworthy information is provided.

“We thought that people have information that can tell nobody because they want to keep their anonymity. This is how Anonim.md appeared, a platform through which they can send materials of public interest in a secure way,  choose the recipient to whom this information is sent, whether it is a media institution, an independent journalist or a NGO,” claimed Olga Cebanu, the project coordinator.

Information of public interest refers to any information that concerns the activities or results from the activities of a public authority or institution. Any information can be sent anonymously to one of the recipients registered on the platform. Also the platform allows the continuation of the discussion between the senders and the recipients, in a completely anonymous way. The gathered information can be used by the recipient journalists to initiate investigations.

More information on how the platform functions, as well as its terms and conditions here.

According to a study conducted by Transparency International – Moldova, 10,9% of respondents (civil servants who work in public institutions) declared that they encountered a situation of conflict of interests, abuses or corruption in the last 2 years.  Some of them claimed that they did not report those situations and no measures have been taken by the administration. Even though the legislation obliges civil servants to report corruption cases and other abuses to the head of the public entity or to the authorised authority, a considerable part of the respondents (about 27%) are openly not willing to do it for reasons of personal security reasons and lack of trust in empowered bodies.

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Justice

Former Prime Minister Vladimir Filat was released from detention

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Former prime minister Vladimir Filat was freed from detention on December 3rd, after a request was registered at the Chișinău District Court by the administration  of the prison no. 13 (the prison where the former prime minister spent his detention) on November 12th. The detention of Vladimir Filat was reduced by 709 days based on the decision of the national court as compensation for the inhuman and degrading treatment that was inflicted to him.

Vladimir Filat was supposed to serve a nine years prison sentence until November 5th, 2022. However, the law provides for the possibility of conditional release after serving 2/3 of the sentence. The former prime minister could have been released from detention on October 15th, 2021.

However, in July and October this year, there were two court decisions (based on a decision of the European Court of Human Rights) on reducing the sentence by 709 days, as a compensation for the bad conditions of detention. Thus, after the execution of 709 days reduction, it was concluded that Vladimir Filat has already reached 2/3 of his sentence on November 6th.

“Filat was sentenced to nine years in prison. Two-thirds of the sentence is six years. Now he’s four years old. One year was calculated for two, because he was sentenced in inhuman conditions. […] The law allows that when there are no civil actions and no recovery of damages,” explained  Filat’s lawyer Ion Vâzdoaga for TV8.

Vladimir Filat was sentenced to nine years of imprisonment on October 15th, 2015, being found guilty of passive corruption and traffic of influence. His criminal case was directly related to the disappearance of one billion dollars from 3 banks of the Republic of Moldova.

There is also a second criminal case, in which the former prime minister is charged with committing large-scale money laundering. The former prime minister pleads innocent.

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Justice

The same old way of selecting a new Prosecutor General of the Republic of Moldova?

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The process of selecting the Prosecutor General of the Republic of Moldova is ongoing, as well as the reform of judiciary. It seems that in a short time Moldova will have a new head of the General Prosecutor’s Office (GPO). However, the impression that the same old methods based on politicised decisions, violation of the legal regime of conflict of interests, opacity and impartiality is still there.

A while ago, the contest for selecting the Prosecutor General became the apple of discord within the previous coalition government (formed of the Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova -PSRM – and the political bloc ACUM), after former Minister of Justice Olesea Stamate issued an order of cancelling the results of the contest for the position of Prosecutor General. The former minister declared that the contest was vitiated due to the lack of enough information about the candidates and the impartiality of one member of the Commission in charge with the evaluation.

In a snowball effect, the Government assumed the responsibility for amending the Law on Prosecutor’s Office, so that the prime minister would have been responsible for pre-selecting the candidates for the position of Prosecutor General and submitting the list of candidates to the Superior Council of Prosecutors (SCP), while the existing legal provisions stipulate that the pre-selection is done by a Commission of Ministry of Justice. The socialists (PSRM) was totally against such an amendment. As a result, the coalition fell and the Government was dismissed by a no-confidence vote adopted by the Parliament.

The old contest is the new contest

The same list of four selected candidates for the position of Prosecutor General was transmitted to the SCP by the decision of the new Minister of Justice, Fadei Nagacevschi, despite all allegations made by the previous Minister of Justice.

On November 28th, the interviews for the position of Prosecutor General contest took place. Subsequently, the members of the SCP have to evaluate the results and appoint a winner, submitting the candidacy to the president of the Republic of Moldova, who has to decide whether to sign the appointment decree or not.

According to the regulation, the SCP has to publish the average of the total score obtained by each candidate on its official web page within 24 hours from the end of the interview. This time though, it was decided (internally) that only the average total score for each candidate will be made public, as during the last evaluations, the score given by each member of the Commission was made public and, as a consequence, the former Minister Stamati refused to submit the list of candidates to the SCP.

Minister of Justice Fadei Nagacevschi declared that “There are elements of privacy. Not everything needs to be made transparent. This time, the new Minister of Justice wanted to make sure that the contest would not be suspended and the list of candidates would be passed on.

Doubts from inside

Eduard Bulat, a former candidates for the position of Prosecutor General who also holds the office of the deputy of Prosecutor General, filed a lawsuit for violation of the legal regime of conflict of interest and lack of transparency against the Ministry of Justice, challenging the way the contest for the pre-selection of the head of the General Prosecutor’s Office candidates was conducted, as well as the results of this contest. 

“One of the issues is regarding the absolute nullity of the act issued by the Commission, determined by the violation of the legal regime of conflict of interests, because one of the candidates was in certain relations with one of the members of the Commission. […] There was a margin of subjectivity left for the members of the Commission who evaluated the candidates according to criteria I am not aware of,” said Eduard Bulat.

The Chisinau Court rejected the application submitted by Eduard Bulat, mentioning that there are not enough reasonable suspicions, sufficient and relevant reasons that would justify the suspension of the administrative act until its legality is verified in the judicial proceedings.

The candidates

There are still four candidates selected by the Commission of the Ministry of Justice out of whom the Prosecutor General could be appointed.

One of them is Alexandr Stoianoglo who was also a deputy speaker of the Parliament, being elected on the lists of the Democratic Party of Moldova (DPM).  In July 2019, after Vladimir Plahotniuc’s resignation from the DPM leadership, Stoianoglo’s name was mentioned among the potential future leaders of DPM.

Vladislav Gribincea is another candidate who was the president of the Centre for Legal Resources of Moldova (CLRM). He didn’t hold any office, but has been involved as an expert in the elaboration of the Strategy for the Reform of the Judiciary for the years 2011-2016. The candidate has been a loyal donor of the Party of Action and Solidarity (PAS) for the last three years.

Veaceslav Soltan is a prosecutor at the General Prosecutor’s Office, being also the head of the Information Technologies and Fight Against Cyber Crimes Department within the General Prosecutor’s Office.

And the last candidate is Oleg Crâșmaru who is a senior criminal prosecution officer at the National Anti-corruption Centre (NAC), previously working at the Customs Service, being head of the Directorate of Criminal Investigation and head of the Special Cases Section.

More information about the candidates here.

(Update) The new Prosecutor General

The SCP already selected one candidate out of 4 proposed and submitted the candidacy to the Head of State for signing the appointing decree. Alexandr Stoianoglo, the candidate that had previously a DPM affiliation, was announced as the candidate with the highest average score.

President Igor Dodon signed the decree. The new Prosecutor General has already been presented to the General Prosecutor’s Office. Everything happened in less than 24 hours since the interviews with candidates were conducted.

“The appointment of the Prosecutor General is a long awaited moment, in order to overcome the deadlock of the General Prosecutor’s Office. I reiterate that, nowadays, the Republic of Moldova cannot afford to maintain a key institution in a semi-functional regime,” declared Igor Dodon.

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