Moldova Announces Fugitive Oligarch, Vladimir Plahotniuc In International Search

The National Anticorruption Center announced the former leader of the Democratic Party, Vlad Plahotniuc, in international and interstate search. ZdG tried to find out from the General Police Inspectorate how the information about Plahotniuc’s search is currently distributed to the other states. However the head of the International Police Cooperation Center couldn’t provide us with the requested information as he was on a service mission. At the same time, while looking on the Interpol website ZdG couldn’t find Plahotniuc’s name. 

On October 11, 2019 Chișinău District Court issued a 30-day arrest warrant in the name of Vladimir Plahotniuc, former leader of the Democratic Party, being suspected of committing the offense provided by art. 243 of the Criminal Code – money laundering, in very large proportions.

According to the prosecutors during the years 2013-2015, Vladimir Plahotniuc created a criminal scheme with the purpose of converting, transferring, acquiring, owning and using some goods that he definitely knew constituted illicit income. 

Prosecutors claim that in order to conceal the illicit nature of the goods, Plahotniuc set up – through intermediaries – several domestic and foreign companies, through which he organized the circulation of money means in very large proportions – about $18 million and €3.5 million. The materials of the case demonstrate that Plahotniuc was aware that the money constituted illicit financial means, obtained through non-performing bank loans from Banca De Economii, Unibank, and Banca Socială. 

Two other persons are targeted in this money laundering case, one of whom has already been detained for 30 days.

On October 17, 2019 the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office requested the National Anticorruption Center to announce Plahotniuc  in international and interstate search, and on October 28 the Anticorruption Center announced the former leader of the Democratic Party in international and interstate search.  

“In view of Vladimir Plahotniuc Gheorghe’s disregard of the summons issued by the anti-corruption prosecutors and the refusal to appear before the criminal prosecution body, the citizen (born 1966), initially announced in national search for preventive arrest, was announced in international and interstate search by the National Anticorruption Center,” the Anticorruption Prosecutor’s Office mentioned in a statement.

According to the National Anti-Corruption Center officials, the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’ Office subsequently sent the request to the General Police Inspectorate, more precisely to the International Police Cooperation Center within the General Police Inspectorate.

ZdG tried to find out from the General Police Inspectorate and the responsible subdivision how the information is to be distributed to the bodies of other states, what procedure is followed in such cases and if Vladimir Plahotniuc holds the citizenship of other states, but the General Police Inspectorate officials could not provide such clarifications.

Contacted by ZdG, Gheorghe Balan, the Interim Head of the General Police Inspectorate (IGP), informed us that the Interpol subdivision within the General Police Inspectorate can give more details on this case.

Viorel Țentiu, the head of the International Police Cooperation Center, was contacted to provide details about the search of Vladimir Plahotniuc, but he told us that he was on a service mission and could not give us more information. 

The General Police Inspectorate officials informed us that there is no other person who could provide information on the standard procedure applied in cases of international and interstate search.

The name of Vlad Plahotniuc, former leader of the Democratic Party, accused of money laundering in very large proportions, is not yet found on the Interpol website.

Earlier, when the former mayor of Orhei Ilan Shor was announced in international search, but his name did not appear on the Interpol site’s wanted persons list, Viorel Țentiu, the head of the International Police Cooperation Center, told ZdG that it’s not mandatory for Shor’s name to appear on the Interpol website.

 “No Member State is required to publish the name. It’s entirely the decision of the state. If the state wants the information to be placed [online], then it does it, otherwise it does not place it. What is on the public site is only one tenth of the total procedure,” explained Țentiu.

According to the interim head of the General Police Inspectorate, the existing procedures and the interstate search process stipulates that the request regarding the announcement of a citizen of the Republic of Moldova in search should reach the law enforcement bodies of all the countries belonging to the Commonwealth of Independent States (CSI).

“International search is already a different level, all countries of the world can now be engaged in this process,” Balan told us.

At the same time, the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office announced on October 30 about the seizure of assets and bank accounts, in the amount of around €2.8 million (55.4 million lei), in the cases for money laundering in large proportions, in which Plahotniuc is targeted. 

During the course of the criminal prosecution, seizures were applied to Plahotniuc’s bank accounts held in Victoriabank amounting to about 781,000 euros (15.2 million lei), money assets amounting to 278,090 euros held in another Victoriabank bank account, 100 percent share of the share capital of BB-DIALIZĂ, valued at around €1.6 million (31.8 million lei), 100 percent share of the share capital of BASS-SYSTEMS SRL, whose value constitutes around 148,000 euros (2.9 million lei), and GMG PRODUCTION SRL – around 552,000 euros (10.8 million lei)

The Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office informs that the application of the seizures aims to avoid the risk of money means alienation.

Recently, Viorel Morari,  the head of the Anticorruption Prosecutor’s Office, admitted that a criminal case in the name of Vladimir Plahotniuc could have been opened earlier; however, if certain actions had been taken during the Democratic Party government, he would have been removed from office through disciplinary proceedings or criminal charges.

Vladimir Plahotniuc’s lawyer, Vlad Roşca said that he did not know anything about the request of international and interstate search issued by the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office.

“I don’t know anything about it at the moment. I’m out of the country. I learnt about it from the press. I do not know many circumstances,” Vlad Roşca told Ziarul de Garda.

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