Main suspect in Moldova’s $1bn bank fraud sells business as his alleged protector loses power

Main suspect in Moldova’s $1bn bank fraud sells business as his alleged protector loses power
MP and former mayor of Orhei Ilan Shor calls the city the "Monaco of Moldova" as he opens the OrheiLand amusement park.
By Iulian Ernst in Bucharest June 20, 2019

Ilan Shor, a businessman and politician sentenced in connection to Moldova’s $1bn bank frauds, has reportedly sold his duty-free businesses and sent his family abroad after the Democratic Party of Vlad Plahotniuc failed to forge a new coalition and stay in power after the February 24 elections. 

Shor was identified by investigators as the “visible beneficiary” of the bank frauds and given a 90-month sentence in June 2017. However, while he waits for his appeal to be judged, Shor managed to be elected first as the mayor of Orhei, and later to the Moldovan parliament in the February 24 general election. 

Shor served as a key witness in the lawsuits against two of Plahotnuic’s political rivals, former prime minister Vlad Filat and convicted corporate raider Veaceslav Platon, both of whom are currently serving long prison sentences for fraud.

Shor, meanwhile, has remained at large. The delay of his lawsuit was seen as a result of his cooperation with Plahotniuc. His party, the Shor Party, won seven seats in the recent election and was considered a potential partner to the Democratic Party. 

However, Plahotnuic’s hopes of holding onto power were dashed recently when the pro-Russian Socialist Party and the pro-EU ACUM alliance teamed up in an unlikely partnership aimed at ousting Plahotnuic. 

Rumours about Shor leaving the country have circulated since the formation of the new majority in Chisinau, though they were recently denied by Interior Minister Andrei Nastase. However, Shor’s family are believed to have left the country. 

Plahotniuc has already left Moldova with his family "to protect himself", moving the day before his cabinet headed by Pavel Filip resigned. 

Meanwhile, the fate of the Dufremol chain of duty-free shops owned by the Shor family is uncertain. Until recently the largest duty-free chain in Moldova, the shops have been the core of the Shor family’s visible assets ever since Ilan Shor’s father arrived in Moldova in the early 1990s. 

Until April, the company was registered on the name of Shor’s mother, Ilona Shor. However, the chain is currently reported as controlled by Bulgarian citizen Todor Markov Stefanov, Mold Street reported

Ilan Shor’s other company, DFM which also specialises in duty-free trade, is active and its webpage claims that it operates the largest duty-free chain in the country. The associates are declared to be Alexandru Vilcu (30%), Viktor Iakovlev (30%) and Andriy Minayev (40%). Vilcu is a local businessman, the son of the Custom Agency’s head during the communist government.