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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

The General Prosecutor’s Office requested the extradition of Vladimir Plahotniuc

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The General Prosecutor, Alexandr Stoianoglo, requested the authorities of the United States of America to extradite the former democratic leader Vladimir Plahotniuc,  as the General Prosecutor’s Office (GPO) announced in a new press release today, after it informed, yesterday, that Veaceslav Platon was released from prison after 4 years of detention.

Both Platon and Plahotniuc have been previously declared as being connected to the criminal case of 1 billion stolen from the Moldovan banking system.

See also: Veaceslav Platon was released from prison as per the decision of the General Prosecutor’s Office

The GPO representatives have already sent a set of documents referring to the extradition request to their American colleagues, while the Anti-corruption Prosecutor’s Office sent a request to perform several criminal prosecution actions, including those concerning Plahotniuc’s assets in the USA.

“The extradition request is based on the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime, adopted in New York on November 15, 2000, and ratified by the Republic of Moldova on October 16, 2005, as well as on the basis of the principle of reciprocity. […] Both requests are submitted in order to manage the necessary evidence for confirming the accusations brought against Vladimir Plahotniuc, to identify and make unavailable his assets resulting from crimes, as well as to recover the damage caused by the fraud of the banking system,” is mentioned in the GPO press release.

The former leader of the Democratic Party of Moldova (DPM) had been declared internationally wanted on October 28, 2019. In March 2020, the US Embassy in Moldova confirmed that Plahotniuc was on the US territory. On May 22, 2020, an arrest warrant was issued in the name of Vladimir Plahotniuc, being accused of scam, money laundering, as well as organising and leading criminal organisations, for which the law provides up to 15 years in prison.

Things didn’t move very fast, as Vladimir Plahotniuc was supposed to be held accountable even before he left Moldova in June 2019, after the democrats lost the government to a coalition formed by the ACUM bloc and the Party of Socialist of the Republic of Moldova (PSRM).

Photo: Facebook| DPM

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Justice

Veaceslav Platon was released from prison as per the decision of the General Prosecutor’s Office

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Veaceslav Platon, a former businessman and politician from the Republic of Moldova, was released from imprisonment today, after 4 years of detention. The magistrates of the General Prosecutor’s Office (GPO) ordered to suspend the sentence of April 2017, according to which Platon had been condemned to 18 years in prison. Then, he was accused of fraud, money laundering and active corruption, as the representatives of the GPO mentioned in a press release.

“Continuing the sentence serving is conditioned by the review procedure of the criminal case filed against Veaceslav Platon,” is also mentioned in the press release.

The GPO admitted that serious omissions were permitted in the previous judicial proceedings and declared that fresh evidence, along with previously found one, will be further examined in a transparent judicial process.

On May 18, General Prosecutor, Alexandru Stoianoglo, declared that the criminal case filed against Veaceslav Platon was completely falsified, and the main beneficiary of the “Great Moldovan Bank Robbery” was Vladimir Plahotniuc.


The businessman Veaceslav Platon was sentenced, in April 2017, to 18 years in prison. He was accused of illegally withdrawing, through illegal schemes of granting loans to intermediary companies, about 1 billion lei from the Moldovan banking system.

Veaceslav Platon was a member of the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova between 2009-2010, being considered one of the richest Moldovan citizens. He was accused of participating in various dubious schemes, owning businesses in Moldova, Ukraine and Russia.


“I will not be involved in politics anymore. My main mission is to do justice, to get all the stolen money back to the people. After four years,  I just want the truth to be found out, to prove to people that I can help this country,” claimed Veaceslav Platon after being released from prison.

“Igor Dodon is to blame for this injustice. When he opposed the judicial reform and promised protection to corrupt judges, when he overthrew the Government to stop the reform, he also allowed the release of bandits from prisons,” said the leader of Party of Action and Solidarity, Maia Sandu.

“The decision to release Platon discredits the General Prosecutor’s Office,” declared the opposition deputy (Dignity and Truth Platform Party), Alexandru Slusari. He also mentioned that the name of Platon didn’t appear in the investigation carried out ,in 2019, by the parliamentary commission chaired by himself (Platon sold his shares held previously in the banks involved). However, Platon was involved in other criminal cases that, as it seems, were forgotten by the GPO, according to Slusari’s declarations.

Photo: jurnal.md

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Economy

The Russian loan agreement declared unconstitutional – escaping the trap of excessive debt or missing a chance to overcome the crisis?

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The judges of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Moldova (CC) declared the Agreement between the Government of Moldova and that of Russia, providing for a loan of 200 million euros to be allocated to the Moldovan budget, to be unconstitutional. The decision was announced yesterday, as the adopted law on the ratification of the agreement, along with 2 related Government’s decisions have gained the same status.

The bill on the ratification of the agreement was adopted shortly after the Russian Federation and the Republic of Moldova had signed a loan agreement, on April 17. It was adopted with the vote of 56 socialist and democrat members of the Moldovan Parliament.

At the same time, the exercise of the constitutionality control of some provisions was requested by several opposition MPs, after the legality and feasibility of the conditions for granting the loan have been questioned by experts and civil society.

See also: Experts: What is wrong with the credit agreement signed with the Russian Federation?

In the Opinion on the conditions of the EUR 200 million loan offered to the Republic of Moldova by Russian Federation published by the Watchdog experts, Sergiu Tofilat and Valeriu Pasa, is mentioned that the purpose of the loan was to cover Moldova’s budget deficit and to finance joint projects of the agreement parties.

The agreement included abusive provisions though, according to the published opinion. First, the agreement provided that Russian companies would be contracted for projects funded by the loan. “Currently, no public information about the nature of the projects, the benefits for Moldova, the costs and the list of Russian companies is available. Given Russian widespread disreputable precedents and Igor Dodon’s obedience to Vladimir Putin, it is probable that Dodon will promote companies controlled by Putin’s people, which will execute the projects at higher costs in order to misappropriate a part from the loan,” is mentioned in the opinion.

Moreover, the loan agreement stated that the Republic of Moldova would have to undertake to repay other loans received from Russian Federation, in addition to the 200 million euros loan. Therefore, “there is a risk that Russian companies controlled by Putin’s entourage would register companies in the Republic of Moldova in order to borrow funds from Russian banks, under the guarantee of the Russian government, while the payment obligations would be registered as Moldovan national debt to Russian Federation.”

All debts would have been repaid at an interest rate of 2% per year, plus 2% annual penalty*150% to the entire debt, including  to the interest and penalties for other loans, that is while applying a penalty to another penalty is an illegal provision that can’t be applied in Moldova.

Taking into consideration that the loan agreement didn’t provide for the jurisdiction that would litigate any loan related disputes and that other loans including private debts could be simply added up to the consolidated national debt, that could create difficulties in a potential international litigation against the Russian Federation. “If Russia claims that the Agency, as a creditor of Moldova, is a separate entity from the Russian government, the Republic of Moldova will have to prove in front of an international court that all the actions of this creditor in relation to the debt of Moldova are dictated by Kremlin,” said the Watchdog experts.

Moldova would risk to have its access blocked to foreign financing by the Russian Federation. “According to IMF rules, lending is prohibited to countries with outstanding debts to other countries.” And Moldova would have been gather an impressive foreign debt as a result of the agreement.

In such a way, the experts concluded that the abusive conditions of the loan agreement would have allowed for a considerable increase of the Moldovan national debt to Russian Federation, which could be used as a control instrument in Moldova’s strategic infrastructure areas, as it previously happened in the natural gas sector.

The only Moldovan citizen that could benefit from this agreement would be President Igor Dodon. “The EUR 100 million second tranche, scheduled by October 31, 2020, may lead to the re-election of Igor Dodon as president,” Watchdog representatives opinated.

Prime Minister Ion Chicu and President Igor Dodon denied all accusations and repeated the same words in front of Moldovan people:

“This agreement does not involve any financial or political risks. This agreement does not jeopardise the economic security of the country, nor does it affect other agreements.”

As a consequence of the CC decision to declare the loan agreement unconstitutional, it’s ratification was blocked along with the funds that won’t reach the Moldovan budget. “In the context of the crisis, we can get through this year without Dodon’s airports and the roads around them. We can reduce the expenses for them by the amount of the Russian loan,” suggested Former Minister of Finance, Natalia Gavrilita.

According to the World Bank projections regarding Moldova’s economic development, the unfolding economic crisis will lead to a contraction of Moldova’s economy in 2020. “If the coronavirus outbreak is largely contained by mid-2020, with a recovery thereafter, in the baseline scenario by year-end, the economy will still have to deal with a recession of 3.1 percent. […] Increased social needs and unemployment, as well as fiscal stimulus through public investment, will bring fiscal deficits above the historical average in the years to come,” is mentioned in the report.

However, a prolonged disruption of economic activities until August 2020 would cause Real GDP growth to fall by 5.2%, which would be the biggest drop since 2009. “Weaker growth will further strain public finances faced with already large financing needs at 15 percent of GDP. A higher number of returning migrants, high social spending needs and high unemployment may put additional strain on labor market conditions and create further fiscal pressures,” said the World Bank projections that were updated recently.

Photo: Feodora Chiosea | Getty Images

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