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Moldovan ‘Theft of the Century’ Solved?

Authorities could soon start bringing home some of the vanished $1 billion.

14 April 2017

The Moldovan central bank said yesterday it was preparing legal action to recover the assets involved in a major money-laundering operation involving local banks and prominent figures.

 

Some of the funds have been traced to Cyprus, China, Hong Kong, and Switzerland, Reuters reports.

 

A former prime minister is serving nine years in prison for taking a bribe from a suspected key figure in the scheme, but so far other prominent political and business figures rumored to be implicated have not been charged with any wrongdoing.

 

Vlad Filat  100
The businessman who admitted bribing former Prime Minister Vlad Filat (pictured), Ilan Shor, spent some time under house arrest, then successfully ran for mayor of a town near Chisinau in 2015, Reuters says.

 

The central bank said about 40 people have been identified as either benefitting from the fraud or facilitating it, without divulging their names.

 

Moldova’s reputation as a fraud hotspot was boosted recently when an investigative reporting project released documents that journalists said revealed new details of a multi-billion dollar operation to launder Russian money using corrupt Moldovan courts and banks.

 

UK police said the total amount of money moved out of Russian banks over the four years the scheme ran could have reached $80 billion, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project said.

 

Vladimir Platohniuc

  • Vladimir Plathotniuc (pictured), the Moldovan businessman who police said was the target of a recent assassination plot, has been linked to the bank scandal and accused of exerting control over pro-Western politicians, but nothing has ever been proved against him.

 

  • Moldovan and Ukrainian police arrested 17 people last week in connection with the alleged plot against him.

 

  • “The assassination claim comes as Plahotniuc’s Democratic Party is in the middle of a campaign promoting a new system of plurality elections to replace the proportional system. Analysts say the affair also comes as the Moldovan businessman tries to shed his ‘oligarch’ image,” Balkan Insight says.

Compiled by Ky Krauthamer

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