On February 5, at City of London Magistrates Court, District Judge Michael Snow granted forfeiture orders on the three frozen accounts of Vlad Luca Filat, the son of former Moldovan prime minister Vlad Filat, who is currently serving a nine-year prison sentence related to the $1bn frauds in Moldova.
The court required “nearly half a million pounds” to be forfeited, which was the money Vlad Luca was willing to pay as rent for a luxury penthouse, announced Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA), a non-ministerial government department in the UK.
The judge said: “I am satisfied on the balance of probabilities that the cash was derived from his father’s criminal conduct in Moldova.”
Freezing orders for three HSBC accounts held by 22-year-old Vlad Luca Filat were granted in May 2018 – under new forfeiture provisions introduced by the Criminal Finances Act 2017 – after NCA financial investigators suspected the funds were derived from illegal activity by his father.
After moving to London in July 2016 to begin his studies, Vlad Luca led an extravagant lifestyle, spending significant sums of money on luxury goods and services, including a £200,000 (€230,000) Bentayga Bentley bought from a Mayfair dealership, NCA said in its press release. He also paid £390,000 up front in rent for a Knightsbridge property.
Vlad Filat was sentenced in 2016 to nine years in prison for his involvement in the fraud. In 2017 a Moldovan court sentenced businessman Ilan Shor to seven and a half years in prison although he is at liberty until his appeal is judged. Corporate raider Veaceslav Platon was also sentenced in a case related to the frauds. Meanwhile Filat and Platon have accused the ruling coalition’s head Vlad Plahotniuc of being behind the $1bn fraud.
Financial forensics firm Kroll said in December 2017 that it has traced $1.14bn of the $2.9bn of suspect loans issued by three Moldovan banks between 2012 and 2014, according to a brief version of the second report delivered by Kroll and published by the Moldovan central bank. But not much of the money was recovered.
Kroll did not reveal the identity of the final beneficiaries of the frauds, explaining that this would hinder further investigation and the recovery of the money.
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