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Vlad Plahotniuc investigated in Romania for organized crime, blackmailing, money laundering and fraud

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The Democrat leader and oligarch, Vlad Plahotniuc, is reportedly investigated by Romania’s Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism based on the testimony delivered by the Moldovan businessman Veaceslav Platon in August 2016.

Buying shares together in Victoriabank and now-inexistent Banca de Economii

According to the leaked testimony and the corresponding prosecution order, Platon accused Plahotniuc of forcing him to participate in the acquisition of shares of Victoriabank, Banca de Economii, SA Asito, Victoria Asigurări, SA Alfa Engineering. Moreover, Plahotniuc is said to have influenced the National Bank of Moldova to block one major shareholder of Victoriabank that allowed the selling of his shares later on the market with a lower price. The Democrat oligarch allegedly got the shares in his possession through proxies like the Parliament speaker Andrian Candu, his close partner Sergey Yaralov, Vladimir Andronache and other persons from the circle of the Democratic Party of Moldova.

Platon, condemned in Moldova to 18 years of prison for frauds and money laundering, complained to the Romanian prosecutors that his multiple letters of complaints and demands were ignored by the National Bank and the investigation organs in Moldova, presumably under Vlad Plahotniuc’s influence.

Plahotniuc’s three citizenships and changing identities

In his confession, Veaceslav Platon, known also as Kobalev, underlined that Plahotniuc used several identities in the Republic of Moldova (Vladimir Plahotniuc), Romania (Vlad Plahotniuc, Vlad Ulinici), and the Russian Federation (Vladimir Plahotniuc). The oligarch was and probably is still a citizen of all three states.

Based on Platon’s statements, Romanian Prosecutor Raluca Negulescu launched a penal investigation on the fact of constituting an organized crime group, blackmailing, fraud and money laundering. The investigation is possible because Plahotniuc is a Romanian citizen. The order of launching penal investigation against Vlad Plahotniuc dates back to 17 April 2017.

Platon’s testimony was submitted on 3 August 2016, when Plahotniuc’s former business partner was under arrest in Kyiv, Ukraine.

Romania’s Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism has not issued a statement on the leaks yet.

What did Platon do (according to the Moldovan prosecution system)?

Veaceslav Platon was accused of benefiting from high-risk loans from the former Banca de Economii in the value of 800 million lei: 130 million lei, 12 million USD and 5 million euros. He was arrested by the SBU of Ukraine on July 25th. Businessman Veaceslav Platon was extradited from Ukraine to Moldova on August 29th, 2016 with a charter flight, for which the Moldovan Interior Ministry claimed to have paid only 1690 US dollars. Some say that the half-legal extradition was personally ordered by the Democrat leader and oligarch Vlad Plahotniuc. Anticorupție found that the charter flight used for the extradition cost around 15 thousand US dollars.

Who is Vlad Plahotniuc, de facto?

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 state institutions. Vlad Plahotniuc is often called the one and only oligarch left in Moldova, the grey eminence or the puppeteer of Moldovan politics. He was officially elected as the leader of the Democratic Party at the 8th Congress in December 2016.

Justice

Former head of the Anti-corruption Prosecutor’s Office is under arrest

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Viorel Morari, former head of the Anti-corruption Prosecutor’s Office, was detained for a period of 20 days, in addition to initial 72 hours. A criminal case related to forgery of administrative documents and abuse of power was filed, on December 26, against him, based on notification documents registered with the General Prosecutor’s Office, as it is announced in a press release of the General Prosecutor’s Office.

On January 10, 2020, Viorel Morari was recognised as a suspect in the criminal investigation, he was detained and was to be involved in hearings related to the case.

” Viorel Morari is suspected that, in March 2017, he received from Vladimir Plahotniuc a complaint that was registered against the legal requirements, filing a criminal case and subsequently criminal prosecution, and falsifying several procedural documents within the criminal case. All of these actions were performed to protect the interests of his own and those of his complainant, the latter being involved as a suspect in a criminal case regarding the bank fraud, as well as obstructing the fast, complete and objective investigation of this criminal case,” it is mentioned in the press release.

In the criminal prosecution, Viorel Morari did not admit the commission of the crimes he is suspected of and, at this stage, does not cooperate with the investigation.

Morari was temporarily removed from office, at the beginning of December, during an internal control of prosecutors initiated by the new Prosecutor General Alexandru Stoianoglo. The decision to perform the controls was issued after Viorel Morari’s announcement of resuming the investigation into the Russian financing of the Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova.

Former head of the Anti-corruption Prosecutor’s Office told journalists that he does not exclude that the investigation would be related to the case on financing the socialists. Morari does not exclude that the general prosecutor, Alexandr Stoianoglo, would be connected to President Igor Dodon, and that he would like to see him detained, taking into account certain information Morari knows.

In a public message, head of the Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Moldova, Peter Michalko, stated that the EU institutions closely monitor what happens in prosecution in Moldova.

We are watching very closely what is happening in prosecution in Moldova. During last months, the anti-corruption…

Geplaatst door Peter Michalko op Zaterdag 11 januari 2020

Photo: ipn.md

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Politics

Moldova in the last decade// the most prominent political fiascoes the country experienced

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The decisions taken by the Constitutional Court, the expulsion of Turkish teachers, the adoption of the mixed electoral system, the president removed from office “for 5 minutes”, the lack of Government or the doubled Government – there were so many failures in the Moldovan politics in the last 10 years, that it’s hard to count them.

During the last ten years, the citizens of the country have witnessed many changes of the political and state institutions. Moldova.org selected the most relevant events. Here is where we can remember the saying “Every nation has the leaders it deserves.”

1  Decisions of the Constitutional Court from 7 to 9 June 2019

The Constitutional Court of Moldova (CC) announced, on June 7, that the deadline for the Parliament, which was elected on February 24 and validated on March 9, to appoint the new Government expired. The CC calculated that the constitutional term of “three months” provided for the formation of the Government actually means “90 days” and that it expired on June 7, not on June 9. The next day, the political bloc ACUM and the PSRM signed a temporary agreement for the formation of a majority government, Zinaida Greceanii being voted the president of the Parliament and Maia Sandu being appointed the head of the Government.

Immediately thereafter, the CC declared all the laws and decisions adopted by the new Parliament as unconstitutional. On June 9, the Constitutional Court decided to remove President Igor Dodon from office and appointed Pavel Filip as the interim president. After the Democratic Party announced its power withdrawal, on June 15, the CC cancelled its own previously taken decisions.

The Venice Commission published an opinion, stating that the CC violated its own procedures when taking the respective decisions, but also the principle of impartiality towards the political parties. The Commission recalled that the Court’s role is to be equidistant and to act as an impartial arbitrator in the event of a confrontation between political parties.

2 The period of two Governments

Between June 8-15, 2019, the Republic of Moldova had two Governments – the Government appointed by the newly formed majority government, led by Maia Sandu and the previous Government who still remained in power, according to the decision of the CC. Pavel Filip, the so-called interim president, announced the dissolution of the Parliament and the date of future snap elections.

The newly elected Parliament had its first session in the dark, as the technical employees of the building did not come to work that day. The democrats stated that they did’t recognise the new Government and didn’t intend to give up the power. The democrats’ leader Vladimir Plahotniuc accused the socialists of trying to usurp power. A week later, the Democratic Party decided to give up the power in favour of the Government appointed by the ACUM and socialists’ majority.

3 Clandestine interceptions’ scandal

A RISE Moldova investigation has discovered an entire operation of intercepting and chasing the political opponents of the democratic government, which has been carried out in recent years. The operation was carried out under cover of three criminal cases, filed because of inconvenient Facebook messages or statements at press conferences. As a result, it was established that the activities of 52 people, including politicians, representatives of civil society, organisations representatives and journalists, were investigated by prosecutors and police officers.

After coming to power, the ACUM representatives declared that the number of people chased by the former government was much higher. In addition to intercepting phone calls, some of them have also been monitored, as microphones and video cameras were installed in their houses. President Igor Dodon claimed that, in 2018, there were 10 thousand interceptions, out of which 600 at the request of the Information and Security Service (ISS), and 3 300 interception in 2019, out of which 200 were initiated at the request of ISS. Most interceptions were initiated by the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA). Based on the interception scandal, criminal cases were filed against four MIA employees, three prosecutors and four judges.

4 Camouflaged expulsion of Turkish teachers

On September 6, 2018, seven Turkish citizens who were teachers at Horizon High School, were removed from their homes by employees of the ISS and taken in an unknown direction. The state institutions declared the action as “expulsion”, saying that the Turkish nationals were suspected of links with an Islamist group. They have been declared undesirable by the competent bodies and expelled from the territory of the Republic of Moldova.

The Turkish citizens were taken to Turkey by a charter plane and were sentenced to years of imprisonment. Immediately after the expulsion operation, European officials asked the Moldovan authorities “to comply with the rule of law and all judicial procedures” in this case. On June 11, 2019, the European Court of Human Rights issued a conclusion stating that Moldova violated the rights of Turkish citizens and required the government to pay 25 thousand euros for each of the Turkish citizens, whose rights were violated.

5 Cancellation of Andrei Nastase mayoral mandate

In June 2018, the Chișinău District Court cancelled the results of the snap local elections for the mayoral seat of the capital city. The elections were won by the Dignity and Truth Platform Party leader, Andrei Năstase. His mandate was not validated on the grounds that he would have campaigned on social media on the day before elections. Andrei Năstase addressed voters on Facebook and advised them to participate in the vote.

The decision was heavily criticised by local experts, ambassadors and representatives of international forums. The decision remained in force and after being challenged in the higher courts. After one year and three months, the mandate of Andrei Năstase was validated. By that moment other local elections were organised and his rival, socialist Ion Ceban won the mayor seat.

6 The Citizenship by Investments Law


Also in 2018, the Parliament adopted the law on granting citizenship by investments – a mechanism by which foreign citizens could obtain citizenship of the Republic of Moldova. “The Law on Citizenship by Investments of the Republic of Moldova is one of the projects that created favourable conditions for international money laundering,” Transparency International-Moldova states in a report. Such models for granting citizenship are criticized by European officials, and some countries have already given up these programs. In the summer of 2019, the Government instituted a moratorium on this law for a period of four months.

7 The president removed from power “for 5 minutes”

In 2017, the Constitutional Court decided that the president’s refusal to carry out his constitutional duties in appointing a minister represented “a temporary impossibility to exercise his duties” and justified assigning the president of the Parliament or the prime minister as the interim head of state. In other words, the CC decided that the president Igor Dodon had no veto in appointing a minister, and the signature of the head of state on the confirmation decree is only a formal one.

In the period of 2017 to 2018, Igor Dodon was temporarily removed from office for five times, and the respective decrees were signed by the President of the Parliament Andrian Candu. The removal for “five minutes” became a joke of the representatives of civil society and experts who stated that Igor Dodon may claim to be included in the Guinness Book of Records. In December 2018, Igor Dodon stated that he had called for protest in case another removal from power would have taken place.

8 The adoption of the mixed electoral system

In the summer of 2017, the Parliament adopted the law on the mixed voting system. It provided that 50 deputies would be elected on party lists, and 51 – directly by citizens, in single-seat constituencies. The mixed voting system was adopted by the socialists, democrats and popular-Europeans and has been criticised by the Venice Commission, the European Union, the United States and by the political opposition.

After the formation of the new majority government, the Parliament adopted, in the summer of 2019, the return to the proportional representation system, cancelling the mixed voting system.

9 The appointment of the Government led by Pavel Filip

On January 20, 2016, the Parliament where the democrats held the majority, granted a vote of confidence to the candidate Pavel Filip and his Cabinet of Ministers. At that time, neither the draft Government activity program, nor the list of proposed Government members had been made public. The new Government was voted in a session that lasted about 30 minutes, in which the designated PM held a speech for 8 minutes and, in another 2 minutes, presented the Executive’s list. The discussions and debates were omitted.

Moreover, the procedure for taking the oath by the members of the Government also took place on January 20, secretly, at midnight. Thousands of protesters surrounded Parliament, calling for snap parliamentary elections. Subsequently, the protesters entered the Parliament building forcefully, and altercations took place.

10 Ilan Șor became the mayor of Orhei

Being criminally investigated in the “Theft of the century” case and being arrested at home, on June 14, 2015, Ilan Shor won the mayoral elections with 61.97% of the votes. Political analysts described his involvement in politics as an intention to escape house detention.

In 2017, he was sentenced by the first court to 7 and a half years in prison. Despite the accusations, Ilan Șor pleaded not guilty and continued his political activity . Moreover, he also obtained a mandate as a member of the Parliament. In 2019, he received the certificate of integrity to run for parliamentary elections. Later on, Ilan Şor left the country despite the court ban, after the democrats’ power withdrawal.

11 The theft of the century


In 2014, the Republic of Moldova became the scene of an international scandal, following a fraudulent scheme of 1 billion withdrawal from 3 saving banks from Moldova. To save the situation, two governments (led by Iurie Leancă and Chiril Gaburici) took decisions to grant state guarantees for covering the hole in the banking system. To investigate the case, Kroll company was invited.

At the initiative of the political bloc ACUM, a new parliamentary commission was created in order to investigate the banking fraud. It’s conclusions were that the amount of damage could be much higher than initially stated and that the main beneficiaries of the bank robbery were the Vladimir Plahotniuc, Ilan Șor and Vladimir Filat groups.

12 The stolen billion has to be paid by Moldovan citizens in the next 21 years


In 2016, the Government led by Pavel Filip decided to convert the emergency loans, amounting to 13.5 billion Moldovan lei, transferred by the National Bank of Moldova to three affected by the robbery banks, into state debt. Therefore, the citizens of Moldova would have to return in the next 25 years about 21 billion Moldovan lei (including the interest for the emergency loans). It was calculated that every child born in the Republic of Moldova would owe the state 4000 lei (182 euros) from the first day of his life.

13 No president, for almost three years

In 2009, when the former head of state Vladimir Voronin announced his resignation, the Parliament tried twice, but without success, to elect the democratic leader Marian Lupu to this position. In November 2010, due to Parliament’s inability to elect the head of state, snap parliamentary elections were held again. Finally, in March 2012 the candidacy of the former president of the Superior Council of Magistracy, Nicolae Timofti, was voted to be the president. Therefore, the constitutional crisis lasted for about two and a half years (from September 2009 to March 2012).

This text is a translation. The original article can be found here.

Photo: privesc.eu

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Opinion

Ludovic Orban about the Government of Moldova: “Everything that recently happened in Moldova represents a devolution that worries us.”

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Romania’s Prime Minister Ludovic Orban declared in a press conference yesterday, as he paid an official visit to Brussels, that what happened in the Republic of Moldova after the Government led by Maia Sandu fell is a “devolution”, urging European officials “to look at this situation with maximum circumspection and exigency,” as he is cited by a Romanian news outlet.

“Everything that has recently happened in the Republic of Moldova represents a devolution, which worries us, and, from our point of view, the current Government can’t be considered a trustworthy partner.”

Ludovic Orban met with the European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, Oliver Varhelyi, but also with other European officials and transmitted a message to them.

The Romanian PM called for maximum circumspection regarding what happens in the Republic of Moldova. “I expressed my position to both the Commissioner for Enlargement and other European officials. I told them to to look with maximum circumspection and with maximum exigency to everything that happens in the Republic of Moldova and, basically, if the commitments that have been made regarding the European orientation of the country are not respected, the European Union, the European Commission should react accordingly,” added Ludovic Orban.

“In the context of discussions with the Neighbourhood Commission official, the Prime Minister of Romania also referred to the recent developments in the Republic of Moldova, expressing support for a strict and conditional approach from the European Union, which will allow the continuation of internal reforms, especially those of judiciary, for the benefit of the citizens of the Republic of Moldova,” it is also mentioned in a press release published on the official page of the Government of Romania.

Photo: Facebook/Ludovic Orban

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