Former deputy chief of the Varnița passport section, targeted in a ZdG investigation, sentenced to two years suspended prison and fined 110 thousand lei for active corruption
Aurel Cuconescu-Palii, the former deputy head of the Varnița passport department, targeted in an investigation by the Ziarul de Gardă, has been sentenced to a two-year suspended prison term on probation by Anenii Noi Court magistrates for active corruption. The judges also fined him 2200 conventional units, equivalent to 110 thousand lei.
The sentence of the Anenii Noi Central Court was pronounced on Thursday 16 March. According to the document, the execution of the prison sentence imposed on Aurel Cuconescu-Palii is conditionally suspended for a probation period of two years, with “an order that the convicted person shall not change his place of residence without the consent of the competent body”.
“(…) Although the defendant did not admit his guilt, his guilt is also proven by the evidence in the case, so the court concludes that the accusation against the defendant was confirmed in court, a fact that is also proven by the case documents (…).
(…) Thus, the court considers that the purpose of the criminal punishment will be achieved without depriving the defendant Cuconescu-Palii Aurel of his liberty, applying to him the provisions of Article 90 of the Criminal Code, as a result of which the execution of the sentence will be conditionally suspended for a probation period of 2 years, as the defendant has not been tried before, he has two minor dependent children.
In January 2022, Ziarul de Gardă conducted an investigation into the civil servants in Varnița, who are in charge of the processing and issuing of identity documents, especially for people from the left bank of the Dniester. Although they have been targeted in several criminal cases, these officials have managed to avoid criminal punishment each time. In the article “The court of fellow citizens: the Varnița schemes in the “fight” with justice”, published on 21 January 2022, ZdG reported on several links between the persons involved in this case, examined by a magistrate from the same locality as the defendants. After half a year of ZdG continuing to follow the case, the first repercussions in the trial emerged: the magistrate was recused and one of the defendants, then in public office, resigned.
Deputy head of SEAI Bender resigned after ZdG investigation
On 22 April 2019, the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office, together with officers of the Intelligence and Security Service (SIS), stormed the SSC Varnitsa. As a result of the searches, five people were detained: the head of the institution, a subordinate, two intermediaries and a person who admitted his guilt. They allegedly implemented a scheme to extort money from people on the left bank of the Dniester in exchange for the completion of Moldovan documents. As a result of the prosecution, the law enforcement authorities announced that money and other evidence relating to the facts under investigation had been found and seized. The suspects were remanded in custody and the head of the institution was suspended from her post, but has since returned to her “armchair”. Aurel Cuconescu-Palii, at that time deputy head of the Section for Issuance of Identity Documents and Population Registration (SEAI) in Bender, based in Varnița, is one of the four defendants in the case opened on 22 April 2019. Cuconescu-Palii allegedly acted as an intermediary in the corruption scheme uncovered by prosecutors and SIS officers.
In March 2019, Aurel Cuconescu-Palii, being in the Civil Status Service headquarters, knowing with certainty that the office of the head, Angela Palii, another defendant in the case, who is also his mother, was free, because she was on leave, invited inside another official of the institution, to whom he presented for completion civil status documents after sets of documents, in the absence of the applicants, without prior registration, and offered her money that was not due to her, namely US dollar notes, according to information in the criminal file, published in a petition filed with the Constitutional Court by his lawyer, seeking a declaration of unconstitutionality of a provision of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which was subsequently rejected as inadmissible.
A few days after the publication of the ZdG investigation in which he was targeted, Aurel Cuconescu-Palii left his position as deputy head of SEAI Bender. Subsequently, “in connection with the changes in the staffing”, he took up the post of senior specialist in the same institution. On 15 June 2022, Aurel Cuconescu-Palii resigned from his position at his own wish, the communication service of the Public Service Agency (ASP) informed us at the time.