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Oligarch Vlad Plahotniuc to Trump: Moldova wants to be a bridge, not a battleground, between East and West

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In his FOX News editorial addressed to US President-elect Donald Trump, the leader of the Democratic Party of Moldova, Vlad Plahotniuc, emphasizes that he hopes for better cooperation between East and West, at no expense for Moldova’s dream for deeper ties to the West. Of course, Plahotniuc chose to write the message on the behalf of all Moldovans by mostly using the pronoun We.

The Moldovan oligarch believes that Trump’s non-confrontational approach to Russia will help to reduce the pressure on countries like Moldova when choosing sides. According to the grey eminence Moldovan politics, Moldova cannot prosper when there is a struggle between East and West and a new Cold War. Plahotniuc also hopes that the United States of America will still continue to support Moldova’s path to the natural home in the European community. 

The Democrat stresses that a cooperation between Russia and the West in Moldova would offer some prospects for solving the Transnistrian conflict and other regional security issues such as Crimea, South Ossetia and Abkhazia:

“For more than two decades, the Transnistrian dispute has threatened the security of Moldova and the stability of Eastern Europe. But, if the United States and Russia are able to forge a new relationship more focused on cooperation than on confrontation, it could help foster constructive steps to resolve the secessionist standoff not only in Transnistria, but also in the territorial conflicts in Crimea in Ukraine and in South Ossetia and Abkhazia in Georgia.”

Plahotniuc also wants the US and the Americans to believe that Moldovans are rather pro-Western without being anti-Russian, since Moldova wants to resolve its differences with Russia, like the one over Transnistria, but also to expand the economic relations. Moreover, the Moldovan politician asks to not misunderstand the election of a pro-Russian president, because he holds a largely ceremonial position of president, while the Government is driven by a pro-West coalition, led by the Democrats, reportedly committed to closer ties to the EU and to implementing the Association Agreement.

Ironically, Plahotniuc stresses that, under his guidance, Moldova is solving problems like political corruption, economic barriers and weak rule of law, while striving for a free-market democracy and the rule of law.

The grey eminence also mentions that Moldova (or We) is on course to the ultimate goal of prosperous, entrepreneurial democracy, upholding legal and constitutional norms, that looks toward the West and maintains relations with all its neighbors. One can only guess what Plahotniuc meant by entrepreneurial democracy: Moldova as his own business.

Ultimately, the Democrat expects from Trump and the US to continue to be a partner:

“In this endeavor, the United States and EU are our inspirations, and we expect you to continue to be our partners.”

***

Despite the fact he holds no governmental position, Vlad Plahotniuc is known for his control over the Government, judiciary branch, prosecution system and the anti-corruption bodies through his proxy Democratic Party, vassal-parties and particular persons in the top of management of Moldovan institutions.

There are suspicions that Plahotniuc secretly supported Igor Dodon in the Presidential campaign by using his media outlets to purposely denigrate the counter-candidate, Maia Sandu.

Vlad Plahotniuc is often called the one and only oligarch left in Moldova, the grey eminence or the puppeteer of Moldovan politics.

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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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Important

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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