Moldova’s head prosecutor arrested on four counts of corruption

Moldova’s head prosecutor arrested on four counts of corruption
Moldova’s general prosecutor Alexandr Stoianoglo was detained for 72 hours.
By Iulian Ernst in Bucharest October 6, 2021

Moldova’s general prosecutor Alexandr Stoianoglo was detained for 72 hours and his house as well as the General Prosecution Office were searched by the intelligence services, SIS, on October 5, after prosecutor Victor Furtuna of the Anticorruption Prosecution Office initiated investigations on four counts of corruption. 

The investigation was launched following a notification filed by MP Lilian Carp of the ruling Party of Action and Solidarity (PAS). Since coming to power in Moldova, President Maia Sandu and her PAS have sought to remove Stoianoglo from his post as part of their cleanup of the judiciary. 

The announcement was made by the Minister of Justice Sergiu Litvinenco, according to Deschide.md. The most serious of the four corruption crimes relate to approving the dropping of charges against controversial businessman Veaceslav Platon in the case known as the $1bn bank theft, and alleged financial benefits extended by Platon to Stoianoglo and his wife through companies registered in Ukraine.

Stoianoglo was detained at 6pm local time, just before a press conference he had announced following the beginning of the investigations.

His wife, allegedly involved in one of the corruption crimes, was detained as well.

The Superior Council of Prosecutors met in the morning of the same day to examine a single topic — the notification concerning Stoianoglo, submitted by Carp. Stoianoglo showed up at the meeting to defend himself and submit a request regarding the notification, but he was not allowed to enter.

Stoianoglo and his deputies were suspended from their posts following the beginning of the investigations initiated by the anticorruption prosecutor.

Notably, the day before he was retained Stoianoglo held a press conference announcing that he is in possession of evidence demonstrating that former head of the Anticorruption Prosecution Office Viorel Morari actively cooperated, including by exchanging classified information, with members of PAS active in the judiciary, NGOs active in the justice area and ambassadors including the European Union delegation’s head Peter Michalko. The cooperation was directed against him, he claimed. The evidence obtained from Morari’s phone has been submitted to prosecutors for investigation, Stoianoglo said.

On October 5, the EU delegation to Moldova announced that it took note of the press conference by Stoianoglo and his statement about Michalko.

“The EU categorically rejects any accusation of political interference in internal processes or court proceedings in Moldova. In our dialogue with the Moldovan authorities, we have always emphasised that reforming the justice sector, combating corruption and depoliticising state institutions are crucial for the implementation of our ambitious association agreement, and we closely followed developments in these key areas,” the delegation said in a statement.

Unimedia.info has detailed the four crimes Stoianoglo is accused of committing. 

He is accused of approving severance payments in favour of chief prosecutor Nicolae Chitoroaga, despite the prosecutor being under investigation for corruption at the moment of his resignation.

Secondly, while serving as an MP in 2011, Stoianoglo is accused of having introduced a provision in the anti-money laundering law that later allowed Platon to allegedly launder money through his banks.

Thirdly, and probably most importantly, Stoianoglo is blamed for his prosecutors dropping the charges against Platon. Platon was sentenced to 18 years in jail in 2017, on grounds that several companies he owned siphoned around MDL800mn (roughly €70mn-80mn at that time) from Banca de Economii a Moldovei (BEM).

The sentence was issued in April 2017, at a time when the judiciary was under the control of now fugitive businessman and politician Vlad Plahotniuc — Platon’s main rival.

When the case was re-judged in March 2021, the General Prosecution Office dropped all the accusations against Platon, claiming that the whole case was fabricated and the firms involved in the frauds were actually owned by Plahotniuc and his accomplice Ilan Shor. At the same time, Stoianoglo’s prosecutors re-launched investigations against Plahotniuc and Shor related to the same case.

Finally, Stoianoglo is accused of indirectly receiving benefits from Platon through firms registered in Ukraine. Such allegations surfaced in March 2021, when he rejected any involvement and said that investigations by Ukrainian prosecutors had already established that “unidentified authors” attempted to forge data such as to create pieces of evidence incriminating Stoianoglo’s wife Tvetana Kurdova as the owner of some firms previously owned by Platon. Stoianoglo pointed to Plahotniuc and Shor as being responsible.

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