Moldova’s Search for a Prosecutor General

After the new governing coalition formed by the ACUM Bloc and the Socialist Party came to power in June 2019, the Prosecutor General tendered his resignation. Since then, the Superior Council of Prosecutors initiated two contests for a new Prosecutor General, having had to cancel the first contest due to new amendments to the Law of the Prosecutor’s Office.  The current contest launched on September 30 brought up 20 candidates, of which 16 passed to the interview stage and four have made it to the final stage of selection. 

ZdG scooped the CVs and declarations of assets of the four remaining candidates in the contest for the Prosecutor General position. 

Following the change of state power, both politicians and civil society demanded the resignation of Eduard Harunjen, the Prosecutor General. By July, Harunjen tendered his resignation, invoking the impossibility of exercising his attributions for health reasons. 

Before the Superior Council of Prosecutors announced the contest for the Prosecutor General position, the Parliament voted during the first reading new changes to the Law of the Prosecutor’s Office, on June 11, 2019. One of the changes was the right of foreign citizens to run for the Prosecutor General position. However the Socialist Party and President Igor Dodon refused to pass that draft law for a vote in the second reading. 

Later on the Superior Council of Prosecutors announced the contest for selecting the candidate for the position of Prosecutor General. The contest was to be held under the old Law of the Prosecutor’s Office, while the Ministry of Justice was planning changes in the procedure for appointing the Prosecutor General.

While the contest was ongoing, Andrei Năstase, the Minister of Internal Affairs  and Deputy Prime Minister, declared during a TV show at PRO TV that the contest organized by the Superior Council of Prosecutors regarding the selection of the Prosecutor General could be canceled.

“The Law on the Prosecutor’s Office needs immediate change, and let this contest remain somewhere in the past and be  forgotten. Those from the ACUM bloc are determined to do so,” Năstase said.

Asked about the possibility of selecting an European Prosecutor General, Năstase argued that for this it is necessary to change the legal framework.

In September the Parliament approved in the second reading the modifications on the procedure of selecting the Prosecutor General, which entered into force several days later. Following the new amendments, the Superior Council of Prosecutors stopped the contest, on September 27, which was launched by the Ministry of Justice again on September 30.   

From the 20 persons registered in the contest, 16 were admitted to the interview stage. Finally four candidates were selected for the next stage, Alexandr Stoianogl, member of the Democratic Party till 2015 and previously a prosecutor, Vladislav Gribincea president of a leading NGO in the justice sector and donor of the Action and Solidarity Party, Veaceslav Soltan, head of IT in the Prosecutor’s Office, and Oleg Crâșmaru, criminal prosecution officer for exceptional cases within the National Anticorruption Center. 

ZdG analyzed the assets and political career of the four final candidates for the Prosecutor General position. 

Alexandr Stoianoglo, a former politician and prosecutor

Alexandr Stoianoglo

Alexandr Stoianoglo is one of the candidates aspiring to become the Prosecutor General. He is a prosecutor and has been an active politician since 2001, when he joined a then-young party, PDM. However, he has had his disappointments with politics and has parted ways with PDM during their last term in power, in 2015. 

He was a parliamentary deputy from the Democratic Party lists during 2009-2014, holding a leadership position during the short lived 2009-2010 legislature, as Vice President of Parliament. Following the parliamentary snap elections of November 2010, Stoianoglo was elected chairman of the National Security, Defense and Public Order Commission. 

In January 2015 Alexandr Stoianoglo announced his decision to leave the Democratic Party and run as an independent candidate for the UTA Gagauzia Bashkan position as an independent candidate. 

While in Parliament, Alexandr Stoianoglo was one of the signatories of the draft law on the Concept for Reform of the Prosecutor’s Office. 

In 2012, Stoianoglo didn’t vote for the condemnation of communism. And in 2014, one of the last draft laws signed by Stoianoglo was the “celebration of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Moldova from the fascist occupation,” (document withdrawn in 2015). The idea of the holiday promoted in 2014 was subsequently taken over by the Socialist Party, which did celebrate ‘the liberation’ in 2019.

In 2012, in an interview for tribuna.md, Stoianoglo spoke appraisingly of Marian Lupu, the then president of the Democratic Party,  saying that “he had a decisive role in my political career.”

In July 2019, following the resignation of Vladimir Plahotniuc from the Democratic Party leadership, Dumitru Diacov, the Party’s honorary president, in a show on TV8, pronounced Stoianoglo’s name among the potential future leaders of the Democratic Party.

Asked about his affiliation with the Democratic Party Stoianoglo replied “I became a member of the Democratic Party when I became a deputy. After I completed the mandate, I left the party and have not since participated in any event, in any meeting of any party, not just the Democratic Party. I got disappointed with politics. And although I was in the same team with Mr. Lupu (President of the Parliament during 2010-2013) and I came to politics at his insistence, Mr. Lupu didn’t even call me to say thank you for working together. I never spoke to Mr. Lupu again. I never spoke to Mr. Plahotniuc (former leader of the Democratic Party), Mr. Candu (former President of the Parliament). Sometimes, I spoke with Mrs. Bacalu (deputy from the Democratic Party), that I am an expert in a project of good functioning of the Gagauz autonomy, and she was a delegate from the Democratic Party. Sometimes, with Ms. Monica Babuc, we also communicated that the directions of activity in that project were culture and science. I saw that Diacov (honorary president of the Democratic Party) made that statement, but I told them not to bother me with such problems. It was just a statement.”

Apartments of almost 300 square meters in Chișinău and a recently opened beauty salon

Alexandr Stoianoglo and his wife, Țvetana

In 2015, Alexandr Stoianoglo submitted his last declaration of assets, when he applied for the position of Bashkan of UTA Gagauzia. Then, he declared a 90 square meters apartment in Chișinău and two cars, Mitsubishi Outlander and Hyundai Tucson, both registered in Chișinău. However the property registry shows that the Stoianoglo family’s dwelling is 160 square meters and not 90 square meters, as he indicated in the declarations of assets. 

The apartment is registered in the name of all Stoianoglo family members: spouses Alexandr Stoianoglo and Țvetana Curdova and their two daughters, Cristina and Corina Stoianoglo. 

And while in the declaration of assets submitted while active in Parliament he indicated the Individual Enterprise Curdova Țvetana, founded in 2008, registered by his wife, bearing  the same name, in his last declaration of assets Stoianoglo made no reference about it. 

A few months after Stoianoglo left the Democratic Party and the Parliament, his eldest daughter, Cristina Stoianoglo, then 19 years old, bought a 134.9 square meters apartment.

According to the declaration of assets and interests filed for 2013-2014, Alexandr Stoianoglo and his wife had official incomes of about 25,500 euros (500,000 lei), while the market price of an apartment with an area of 134.9 square meters is more than 65,000 euros.

Since 2013, the Stoianoglo family has also invested in a 60 square meters non-residential area, located in a residential block on Renașterii Nationale Boulevard, downtown Chișinău. The Stoianoglo family officially entered into the possession of the real estate in April 2016, and shortly thereafter, a beauty salon, Opium Beauty Salon, managed by the Stoianoglo family, was opened at that address. In 2018, after the Curdova Țvetana was closed, a SRL of the same name was registered, founded and administered by Stoianoglo’s wife.  

Opium Beauty Salon

“I included in the declaration of assets the surface of the apartment according to the distribution voucher. I think the indicated surface was 90 square meters, so I indicated that. It is the same apartment received from the state in 2001. Maybe it is about the residential meters. 

As for my daughter’s apartment, the whole family contributed with money, including the grandparents. It happened so that the neighbors decided to sell the apartment, we asked them to wait a little and, after half a year, we bought it. And now we all have debts to pay. My wife runs the beauty salon. We invested the family money. I had no business when I was in politics. I have been working in the civil society sector for four years,” Alexandr Stoianoglo declared when asked about his assets and declaration of assets.  

Vladislav Gribincea, outsider from non-governmental organizations

Vladislav Gribincea

The second candidate competing to become Moldova’s Prosecutor General is Vladislav Gribincea, an outsider in the prosecutors’ system. He has been, since 2010, the president of the Center for Legal Resources of Moldova – an NGO active in the field of justice and human rights. 

Gribincea has not held public functions until now, but was involved as an expert in developing the Strategy for the reform of the justice sector for 2011-2016, as well as in the legislative review of Moldova’s judicial organization, civil procedure and criminal procedure. 

Gribincea also managed the expert group that developed laws aiming to reform the prosecutor’s office, including the Law on freedom of expression and the Law on the Government Agent. 

This August, the Government designated Gribincea as member of the commission selecting the judges at the Constitutional Court. 

For the last three years Vladislav Gribincea, is a loyal donor of the Action and Solidarity Party, part of the ACUM Bloc and the governing coalition. According to the financial reports presented by Action and Solidarity Party to the Central Electoral Commission, in 2016, Gribincea donated to the party around 435 euros, and in 2017 and 2018 he donated around 50 and 25 euros, respectively. 

At the same time, Gribincea is related by affinity with the deputy of the ACUM Bloc, Sergiu Litvinenco, the wives of the two being sisters.

“It is easy to say that a law is bad, when you do not respect or enforce it. I did not hear any foreign expert say that the initiatives we promoted were not good. Law implementation is not our responsibility.

As for party support, we all have political preferences, and when you have certain preferences, you must have the courage to say what you think and do it according to the law. One thing is to have political preferences and the other is to respect the law. I don’t think an honest man could put his personal preferences above the law. I have always been fair and transparent in everything I do. 

When an emerging party called for assistance and, at first glance, was not supported by obscure sources and did not want to be funded by obscure sources, I considered it fair for anyone to support. I did this in a transparent and honest way. The amount I donated to the Action and Solidarity Party was a modest one, it was not substantial,” declared Gribincea when asked about his donations to the Action and Solidarity Party.

On his designation in the commission selecting the Constitutional Court judges, Gribincea said: “There were no Action and Solidarity Party representatives on that committee. Yes, the Minister of Justice was there, though I am not sure she was appointed by the party. However, she was in the minority, her vote was not enough for me to pass the preselection.” 

Until now Vladislav Gribincea has not held any state functions, hence he did not have to file declarations of assets and personal interests. 

According to the data from the Real Estate Register, Vladislav Gribincea owns, together with his wife, a 109 square meters apartment in Chișinău’s Botanica sector. The Gribincea spouses got into the possession of the apartment in 2017, following an investment contract. 

Another building owned by Vladislav Gribincea’s family is located on Sciusev Street, in the center of Chișinău, where the Center for Legal Resources of Moldova – the organization he manages –  is based. The 122 square meters non-residential space was purchased in 2012 and has a cadastral value of around 61,000 euros (1.2 million lei).

“My wife has a house outside Chișinău, received through an inheritance, and I also have some plots of land on the outskirts of Chișinău bought 10-15 years ago. I have a 2011 Toyota Prius, bought in 2017, for 10,200 euros. I drive a Lexus produced in 2005, bought in 2009 for 30,000 euros and registered to the lawyer’s office. Last year we had incomes of over one and a half million lei together with my wife. Their bulk came from the law firm, a smaller part came from the Center for Legal Resources and my wife’s income is for an American company for which she works in the legal department,” Gribincea told when asked about his family’s incomes and wealth.

Veceslav Soltan, insider from the Prosecutor’s Office

Veaceslav Soltan

Veaceslav Soltan is a candidate for Prosecutor General from within the Prosecutor’s Office. He joined the institution in 2005, fresh off the benches of Law school.  

In recent years, he has held the position of Head of the Information Technologies section and cybercrime prevention within the General Prosecutor’s Office. 

In the declaration of assets for 2012, Veaceslav Soltan indicated that he, together with his wife Natalia Soltan, employed at the state enterprise “Special Telecommunications Center”, owned a Kia Magentis car, a terrain and two apartments. 

He owned only one part share in one of the apartments which his family privatized back in the 90s. The other 70 square meters apartment was bought by the Soltan family in February 2012 from Andrei Pântea,  former deputy Prosecutor General, who, in the meantime, left the system and has been convicted in a criminal case. 

In 2012 the Soltan family contracted loans using the apartment as collateral in a 10,000 euros loan (200,000 lei), and repeatedly in 2018 for a loan of around 20,000 euros (400,000 lei).  

Soltan’s declaration of assets and interests for 2018 does not differ much from the one in 2012. 

Last year the family sold the Kia Magentis car, indicating an income of around 500 euros (10,000 lei) from the transaction, and purchased another Toyota Avalon. The car was manufactured in 2013 and, according to the information in the declaration of assets and interests submitted by the candidate, it cost around 5,000 euros (100,000 lei), although its market price is several times higher on specialized sites, reaching 15,000 euros (300,000 lei). In the year the family purchased the car, the family contracted a 20,000 euros (400,000 lei) loan from Moldova-Agroindbank.

Asked about his declaration of assets Soltan replied that “the car (Toyota Avalon) costs around 5,000 euros (100,000 lei) according to the contract and I paid the sum indicated in the contract, after it was registered. Yes, I also sold the Kia Magnetis car for around 500 euros (10,000 lei), as the contract says. The car remained in the family, with my older son.” 

Later, Veaceslav Soltan called back and said that the Toyota Avalon, which he claims to have costed him around 5,000 euros (100,000 lei), was badly damaged when he purchased it. 

“I bought a second hand car. It was damaged. I repaired it. There are photos of it, if needed. It was badly damaged,” Soltan added. 

An invitation to Oleg Crâșmaru’s home

The fourth candidate for the Prosecutor General position is Oleg Crâșmaru. Crâșmaru has worked in the National Anticorruption Center for around 10 years. Since 2017 he is a senior criminal prosecution officer for exceptional cases within the Center.

During 2016-2017, he was head of the Directorate for criminal investigation and head of the Special Cases Section at the Customs Service. For a short period of six months, he was a prosecutor in the Basarabeasca Prosecutor’s Office. 

Previously, Crâșmaru has applied for the position of director of the National Anticorruption Center, but withdrew from the competition, dissatisfied that the authorities extended the deadline for submitting the files, as well as for the early public reactions by some political decision makers.

Oleg Crâșmaru

In 2012, in the first declaration of assets, Crâșmaru indicated that he owns a 54 square meters apartment, acquired in 2005, a house and 1.5 ha land, received as inheritance in 2011, an orchard, purchased in 2010 for around 17,000 euros (330,000 lei). He also declared an Opel, made in 1993 and a trailer made in 2008, both inherited in 2011.

In the declaration of assets and interests for 2018, Crâșmaru indicated that he inherited several agricultural terrains in 2011, and, in the meantime, he initiated the construction of a house on the orchard land purchased in 2010. He indicated he still owns the previously declared 54 square metres apartment and the house received as an inheritance in his native town. 

In 2017, the Crâșmaru family purchased a car, Kia CEED, manufactured in 2013, at the cost of around 7,000 euros (140,000 lei). The people from Zâmbreni, Ialoveni, have informed us that Crâșmaru’s mother and sister have been abroad for several years.

“If you want, I can really invite you to show my living conditions. I can show you absolutely everything I declared. Yes, we have been building a house since 2011. My wife purchased the land before we married. She worked for many years in the private sector. At the moment, the house is erected. The windows are set, but it’s unfinished. My mother bought my apartment that I own since 2005, when I was a student. I am absolutely open and transparent. I really invite you to see everything I have.”

While the contest for the Prosecutor General position is still ongoing more officials expressed their opinion regarding the final outcome of the contest. 

The current Minister of Justice, Olesea Stamate said she was pleased with the selected candidate pool and the way the contest was conducted.

“The Commission has chosen the best candidates. You can’t please everyone,” she commented on reactions in the public space.

However, the former Minister of Justice, Alexandru Tanase was sceptical regarding the final outcome of the contest declaring during a TV show at TVR Moldova that it is very unlikely that a Prosecutor General will be named from among these four candidates. He recalled that, the opinion of the Venice Commission on the changes made to the Law on the Prosecutor’s Office 

On October 31, in a special edition from Moldova 1, Moldova’s President, Igor Dodon stated that he will not sign the decree appointing a Prosecutor General promoted on political criteria or ranks of kinship.

“There is nothing to comment as long as we do not have the final decision on the candidate submitted to the president of the country. (…)Or, is it another contest game? In case there are attempts to cancel the contest or launch new interpretations, then the whole procedure is over. A decision has been made, four applications have been submitted and must be examined by the Superior Council of Prosecutors,” commented Dodon, adding that the Government itself got involved in the contest commission, and now some are dissatisfied.

The Superior Council of Prosecutors will return the list of candidates to the contest Commission if President Dodon rejects the selected candidate. And the Commission may submit to the Superior Council of Prosecutors the same list or another list of candidates from among the persons who applied for the contest or may decide to resume the pre-selection of the candidates, after the founded abuses are removed.

On November 1, after the Government’s meeting  the Minister of Justice, Olesea Stamate stated that the Commission in charge of analyzing the four candidates is still to decide on sending the candidates’ list to the Superior Council of Prosecutors. 

“The list had to be sent today. Unfortunately, I found that I did not have certain information at the time when I analyzed the candidates’ files. The Commission is going to look at how serious the information we have received is and if members consider it to be sound, the Commission could review its decision to submit the four candidates to the Superior Council of Prosecutors. Depending on the decision of the Commission, we will decide if we can send the list today or a further evaluation is needed and the transmission of the list will be delayed,” said Stamate.

She mentioned that if there won’t be two candidates, the situation would be slightly more problematic, and the contest will have to be resumed. 

Anatolie EŞANU, anatolie.esanu@gmail.com
Victor MOŞNEAG, v.mosneag.zdg@gmail.com

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