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Moldova holds no longer a leading position in the Eastern Partnership

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The Republic of Moldova is no longer a leader among the member states of the Eastern Partnership. A group of experts from Chișinău analyzed the situation in Moldova, by comparing it with previous years and with other countries included in the Eastern Partnership – Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Belarus, as IPN reports.

According to the experts, the biggest issues are related to the independence of judiciary system, independence of media and human rights.

The coordinator of the team of experts Elena Prohnitski, the member of the Association for Participatory Democracy ADEPT, declared that this year Moldova leads in none of the areas.

“Why is the difference so big compared with the previous year? Two explanations can be provided. The first explanation is that the situation in the Republic of Moldova worsened in such areas as the freedom of the media, independence of the judiciary, etc. Another explanation is that the situation in other countries developed faster than in our country.” Elena Prohnitski stated.

However, Moldova is not far from other countries that are part of the Eastern Partnership and the discrepancy is mainly due to the adoption of particular laws. The biggest discrepancy is in the business sector. A better situation is registered in Georgia, that became a leader, while Ukraine and Moldova, which both signed Association Agreements and Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreements, rank fourth and fifth. Even if Moldova benefits from a Free Trade Agreement, the situation here is worse than in Azerbaijan and Armenia, according to IPN.

The report is based on a questionnaire that is filled out by national experts. An analysis of the situation in the country is provided additionally as an investigation of the developments in the political, social and economic spheres during the assessed year.

The Eastern Partnership is a joint policy initiative which aims to deepen and strengthen relations between the European Union, its Member States and its six Eastern neighbours: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova  and Ukraine.

Economy

Moldova likely to pay $58 million debt to Platon-associated energy company, case returns to Paris Appeal Court

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The government of the Republic of Moldova is likely to be obliged to pay a $58 million award to Komstroy, an Ukrainian energy company closely associated to now-imprisoned oligarch Veaceslav Platon.

As Law360 reports, the award was reconfirmed by the U.S. District Judge Christopher R.Cooper on 23 August, when Moldova was rejected the claim that it had “been denied due process” in an arbitration case within an ad-hoc arbitral tribunal in Paris. Back in 2013, the tribunal concluded that Moldova had violated an investment commitment under the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT) by not paying debts owned to Komstroy’s predecessor (LLC Energoalliance- based in Ukraine) on the deliverance of electric power in 1999-2000. Thus, the Moldovan government was allegedly owing around $46,5 million. The tribunal’s decision was disputed by the Moldovans at the Paris Court of Appeal, which subsequently ruled in 2016 that the ad-hoc tribunal “misinterpreted the subject debt as an “investment” under the ECT” (Case No. 14-cv-01921 (CRC)). In its attempts to find recognition of the tribunal’s decision, Komstroy asked the D.C. Court to examine the case, even though the French Cassation Court returned the case to the Appeals Court in 2018.

Notwithstanding the ongoing proceedings in Paris, the US Court ruled in late 2018 that the award can be enforceable and more importantly, its amount could be increased to nearly $58 million, considering the exchange rate from the award date.

After the ruling on 23 August, Gene M.Burd, attorney for Komstroy, told Law360 that it’s “pleased” with the US Court’s decision to determine the Paris ad-hoc tribunal’s right and scope to act upon the role demanded by Moldova and the Ukrainian energy company.

Moldova’s Justice Minister, Olesea Stamate, rushed (on 11 September, when the US court decision got out into the wild) to explain that the payment of the award can be enforceable only after the Paris Appeals Court issues a final ruling at the end of the month. As quoted by Ziarul de Garda, Stamati dismissed Komstroy’s claim as a a “scheme that was applied by some persons to milk the public budget”, describing the debts as “bogus”, “sold at double price”. In addition, the Minister announced that Moldova contested the US court decision.

As Sic.md explains in a fact checker, Moldova’s problems began back in Paris, where lawyer Victor Volcinschi was reportedly defending the position of the Ukrainian company instead of the Moldovan side. Additionally, the new law firm, Bukh Law Firm, subcontracted in December 2018, was not paid between February and April 2019 by the previous Democrat government, putting the whole defence at risk.

According to sic.md, LLC Energoalliance is associated with the more-than-controversial oligarch Veaceslav Platon and his involvement in the even more famous Russian Laundromat.

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Dumitru Alaiba: Vlad Plahotniuc has a Czech nationality as well?

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Deputy of the ‘ACUM’ bloc Dumitru Alaiba wonders whether the former DPM leader and oligarch Vlad Plahotniuc is Czech citizen. He recently posted an extract from what appears to be a document saying this:

According to the deputy, on June 4, Plahotniuc tried to open a new company in the UK.

“It seems that Vladimir Plahotniuc, before being taken down from the government, was busy with business development. On June 4, 2019, he was trying to open a new company in the UK – with a Czech passport. There’s nothing illegal, of course. It’s just that I didn’t know about it” wrote Alaiba on his personal blog.

The deputy urged Moldovan diaspora in London to visit the address from the document, in case they are in the area.

Read more: Vlad Plahotniuc made good use of his passport long before he became a political man

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Important

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.

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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:

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