Moldova’s Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office is investigating the legality of the 2011 transactions of former Democratic Party leader Vlad Plahotniuc. The declaration from the Prosecutor’s Office came after ACUM Bloc deputy and Vice-President of the Parliament, Alexandru Slusari, filed a request for information on Plahotniuc’s 2011 transactions – accusing the oligarch of tax evasion.
In August 2019, Slusari requested information on Vlad Plahotniuc’s 2011 transactions, asking if they were legal and wanting to find out if he had paid income tax on the money he obtained that year. Slusari claimed that large-scale tax evasion occurred during that year and demanded that Moldovan law enforcement bodies initiate a criminal case in Plahotniuc’s name.
On August 30, the ACUM Bloc’s deputy published the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office response. The Prosecutor’s Office stated that “the exposed circumstances are [being] examined in the criminal case taken over from the Romanian authorities.”
When contacted by ZDG, representatives of the ERA law firm – the one defending Plahotniuc – said that they do not make statements to the press.
In 2017, Veacesalv Platon, businessman and former parliamentary filed a criminal complaint to the Romanian authorities, claiming that Vladimir Plahotniuc had deceived him and disposed of shares in banks and insurance companies, including Victoriabank, Banca de Economii, ASITO, Victoria-Asigurări, and Alfa Engineering.
According to Platon, this was part of Plahotniuc’s plan to set up a takeover of his business, using the Chișinău Central Bank and the prosecuting authorities.
Plahotniuc is also incriminated in a number of criminal cases in other countries.
In April 2017, the Romanian news portal G4Media.ro reported that Romania’s Directorate for the Investigation of Organised Crime and Terrorism had opened a criminal case in Plahotniuc’s name, accusing him of establishing a criminal group, blackmailing, deceiving and money laundering.
Then on August 5, 2019, Moscow’s Tverskoy court issued an arrest warrant for Vlad Plahotniuc, after accusing him in absentia of organizing a criminal group. The prosecutor has requested his extradition to the Russian Federation. However, Plahotniuc’s lawyer Darya Konstantinova declared in court that her client is innocent.
The investigative department of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs has also initiated a criminal case against the leaders and members of a transnational criminal group responsible for organizing a drug trafficking channel. The group allegedly brought hashish from North Africa through European Union countries for illegal trade in countries within the Commonwealth of Independent States – including on the territory of the Russian Federation.
The Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs claims that their investigations uncovered Plahotniuc was also implicated in the case, after taking advantage of the opportunity to influence the political situation, governing bodies and the people who opposed him in Moldova.
On August 29, Moldova’s Interior Minister, Andrei Năstase, declared during a live TV show broadcast at TVRMoldova that an international search for Plahotniuc will soon be announced.
The Minister also said that the Ministry of Internal Affairs respected a particular set of procedures in order to initiate an international search for Moldovan businessman and politician Ilan Shor and that soon enough the same will happen with Plahotniuc.
Năstase then claimed that during his upcoming visit to the United States he will warn all the American institutions about the criminal case on the usurpation of state power in Moldova.
“I hope that the Prosecutors will move faster than Plahotniuc and his accomplices are expecting, and then we will have the same procedure to initiate an international search warrant in his name and hold him criminally liable as soon as possible,” added the Minister during the show.
On July 22, Năstase requested that the Office of the Prosecutor General issues an arrest warrant for Plahotniuc and initiate an international search on charges of money laundering and state usurpation. A week earlier, the Moldovan Liberal Party and Prime Minister Maia Sandu submitted the same request.
“Once he will be prosecuted, my colleagues will bring Plahotniuc to justice…He does not even suspect how quickly this will happen,” Năstase said.