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RISE Moldova: Moldova Party of Socialists financed from money originated in an off-shore in Bahamas

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RISE Moldova published an investigation of a partly undisclosed flow of money connected to the Party of Socialists of Moldova, probably the most popular party with the most popular Presidential candidate, Igor Dodon.

The investigation shows the flow of money from an off-shore company, Westerby Limited, located in Bahamas islands to the Moldovan media company, Exclusiv Media SRL, that controls the NTV Moldova TV channel, a localized franchise of NTV from Russia. The money were transferred from Westerby Limited to the Moldovan company by a loan agreement worth 33 million lei (1,5 million euros) with a 1,7% annual interest rate in March-April 2016. The loaning contract stipulated that it could be contested only at the Arbitrary Court in Moscow, a dubious clause, taking in account that the off-shore was located in Bahamas, the accounts in Switzerland and the receiver in Moldova.

In its turn, Exclusiv Media SRL, owned by the Socialist deputy Corneliu Furculiță and managed by the Socialist city counselor Petru Burduja, loaned 20 million lei to several Socialist party members or supporters in loans of 300 000-500 000 lei.

The affiliated Socialists then proceeded to transferring the money as donations to the Socialists’ Party of Moldova, in the legal limits of 500 thousand lei. Furculiță himself loaned 6,5 million lei in April-May 2016 from his own firm, and, at the same time, donated 352,9 thousand lei to his party.

The transactions together with the donations can be claimed as legal, but the legality of the origins of money can be doubted, as banking authorities from Bahamas do not disclose the owners of companies such as Westerby Limited.
The financial influx to the Party of Socialists of Moldova comes right on time when the Socialist leader Igor Dodon seems to lead in the Presidential polls. Igor Dodon didn’t comment on the investigation.

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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

One more criminal case filed against Vladimir Plahotniuc for holding a second Moldovan citizenship

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On October 29th, the Anti-corruption Prosecutor’s Office filed one more criminal case against the former leader of the Democratic Party of Moldova (DPM), Vladimir Plahotniuc, for illegally obtaining a second passport of the Republic of Moldova, with a second identity. The criminal prosecution was started based on accusations of “abuse of service, committed in the interest of an organised criminal group or a criminal organisation,” according to the Anti-corruption Prosecutor’s Office information.

The offence based on which the criminal investigation was initiated is punishable by imprisonment from three to seven years, by the deprivation of the right to hold certain offices or to carry out a certain activity for a term of 10 to 15 years.

The chairman of the Parliamentary Commission on National Security, Defence and Public Order, Chiril Moţpan, confirmed at a press conference that the former leader of DPM Vladimir Plahotniuc had a dual identity in the Republic of Moldova. “We have come into possession of a document that clearly indicates that the citizen Vladimir Plahotniuc has one more identity in the Republic of Moldova. That information also reached the Prosecutor’s Office and a criminal case was filed,” declared Moţpan.

No personal details about the second identity of Plahotniuc was provided, as these data were classified. According to the declarations of Chiril Moţpan, the document would have been obtained when Sergei Răilean, the godson of the current DPM president, Pavel Filip, held the office as the director of the Public Services Agency. According to the chairman of the Parliamentary Commission, the Democrat Sergei Iaralov (one of the most important persons of the Plahotniuc’s trusted circle) has also two Moldovan identities.

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Politics

Transparency International Moldova is calling for the immediate repeal of the Citizenship by Investment Law

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Transparency International Moldova has repeatedly drawn the attention of the public and the authorities to the risk of adopting the Citizenship by Investment Program in Moldova, as it represents a mean of legalisation of financial resources of fraudulent origin, undermines efforts to combat major corruption and investigate bank frauds, and affects the national integrity system, according to a statement published on transparency.md.

The Citizenship by Investment Law was adopted in October 2017. In June 2019, after several public debates, the Government, the Parliament and the Presidency of the Republic of Moldova introduced and adopted through a joint effort the bill on repeal of the  Citizenship by Investment Law at first reading. One month later, the President of the Republic of Moldova, Igor Dodon, declared the official interruption of the Citizenship by Investment Program.

The interruption was established for a period of 4 months to clarify all aspects related to the functionality of the program and its risks, as well as to verify the economic agents contracted in order to carry out the program.

“Transparency International Moldova expresses its concern that the period granted for clarifications has expired without any results and calls on the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova to urgently adopt, in a final reading, the bill on the repeal of Citizenship by Investment Law and to the President of the Republic of Moldova – to promulgate the adopted document,” is stated in the statement of Transparency International Moldova.

Additionally, the National Chapter of the world anti-corruption organisation reiterates the importance of implementing the package of bills on the oligarchization in the Republic of Moldova, as well as the Declaration on the recognition of the captive character of the state, adopted by the Parliament on June 8th, 2019.

More details about the Citizenship by Investment Law, as well as the implementation of the respective program here.

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