On June 15, the controversial businessman Veaceslav Platon, former deputy of the Political Party Our Moldova Alliance (2009-2010), was released from Penitentiary no.13. The Chișinău Court, Ciocana headquarters made the decision, after the Prosecutor General, Alexandr Stoianoglo submitted an appeal. Stoianoglo announced, a month ago that the case on the theft of the billion in which Platon was accused was forged. The opposition criticized the decision, noting that Platon should not have been released, because there are other cases opened against him.
Veceslav Platon, a Moldovan businessman and former member of Moldova’s Parliament between 2009 and 2010 was sentenced in April 2017, to 18 years in prison for fraud and large-scale money laundering in the bank fraud case from the Banca de Economii. The decision was maintained by the hierarchically superior courts.
In December 2017, Platon received a sentence of 12 years in a new case, accused of attempted murder, fraud, and money laundering. Back then he tried to withdraw through intermediaries more sums of money from the share capital of some companies which he owned through intermediaries. Thus, the punishments were cumulated reaching 25 years in prison.
On May 18, 2020, Stoianoglo stated that the first case in which Platon was targeted was completely forged. The accusations were based on deliberately distorted evaluation and misinterpretation of the facts. “Therefore, the citizen Platon was convicted illegally and is illegally serving his sentence. Based on the accumulated evidence, the Prosecutor’s Office will initiate the procedure of reviewing Platon’s sentence and will insist on a fair examination of the case, with the guarantee of all his procedural rights, which he previously was denied,” Stoianoglo stated.
The sentence of the second case was overturned and in August 2019 it reached the Chișinău Court again. At the same time, in January 2020, the Chișinău Court reduced Platon’s sentence with 565 days based on the precarious detention conditions from the Penitentiary no. 13.
Explanations from the Office of the Prosecutor General
The Office of the Prosecutor General conveyed that after examining the evidence, the Chișinău Court, Ciocana headquarters fully admitted the appeal issued by the Prosecutor General regarding the suspension of Platon’s sentence.
Thus, the magistrates ordered the immediate suspension of the execution of the sentence by which Platon had been sentenced to 18 years in prison for fraud, money laundering, and corruption.
“The continued enforcement of Platon’s sentence depends on the evolution of the procedure for reviewing the criminal process, previously opened by the Prosecutor’s Office for Combating Organized Crime and Special Cases. The new details that will be discovered while reviewing the file, will be examined together with the evidence previously accumulated, within a transparent judicial process, with respect to all the guarantees inherent in a fair trial. These were omitted in the previous judicial proceedings concerning Platon,” the Office of the Prosecutor General informed in a press release.
Who is the Judge who Released Platon from Prison
Sergiu Bularu, the investigating judge at the Chișinău Court, Ciocana headquarters admitted the request regarding the suspension of Platon’s sentence. He has links with politics, previously, working for a few years for the Democratic Party.
According to magistrat.md, during 1993-1998, he worked in the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Later on, for 10 years (from 1999 to 2009), he worked in the Prosecutor’s Offices, in the last five he worked as head of the Prosecution Service at the Chișinău Court of Appeal, and from 2009 to 2011 he was a lawyer.
In 2011-2014, before becoming a judge, he was an adviser in the office of the chairman of the parliamentary faction of the Democratic Party. Bularu was also the Democratic Party’s representative at the Central Electoral Commission.
He appears in the Ministry of Interceptions investigation, conducted by rise.md , as one of the investigating judges who authorized the interception of several people who were against the former regime controlled by the then leader of Democratic Party, Vladimir Plahotniuc.
People React to Platon’s Release from Prison
Ștefan Gligor, lawyer and former candidate for the Prosecutor General position, believes that Platon’s release from prison proves that the Office of the Prosecutor General is as an unimportant and incapable institution.
“Platon made so many schemes and led to misery so many people. He caused so much damage to our country that Stoianoglo should’ve arrested him for other accusations when Platon was leaving the penitentiary,” mentioned Gligor on his Facebook page.
On the same social media platform, the leader of the Action and Solidarity Party, and former Prime Minister, Maia Sandu, stated that President Igor Dodon is guilty of Platon’s release from prison.
“Thieves who have taken over banks and insurance companies, bought deputies, judges, prosecutors, laundered billions of dirty money are set free to continue these iniquities. Dodon frees them all, one by one. A justice that remained at the mercy of criminal groups. (…) When Dodon opposed reforming the justice system and promised to the corrupted judges to protect them when Dodon ousted the government to stop the justice reform he allowed criminals to be released from prison,” Sandu said in a Facebook post.
The Vice-president of the Parliament, and member of the Dignity and Truth Platform Party, Alexandru Slusari, believes that the decision to release Platon from prison discredit the Office of the Prosecutor General.
Slusari who is the former President of the Commission of Inquiry set to investigate the Billion Case states that he didn’t see evidence that Platon would’ve been involved in the “Billion Theft” that took place in 2013-2014 after Platon sold his shares to Plahotniuc or Ilan Shor, former mayor and businessman who fled the country in June 2019.
“But what do we do with the raider attack from 2011-2012? The commission’s report clearly indicates that Plahotniuc and Platon have since started the process of plundering the banking system. What do we do with the hidden transaction from December 2011? When Platon paid to Plahotniuc $80 million for the shares in Banca de Economii, Victoriabank, and ASITO, using the so-called carousel scheme, fictitious contracts, Moldovan banks (in violation of all prudential rules in the lending process) and the tax evasion mechanism. As I understand, the Office of the Prosecutor General forgot about the Laundromat. And the mastermind of this scheme of laundering tens of billions of dollars from Russian banks was Platon, who received Plahotniuc’s permission to use Moldova’s judicial system to launder Russian money,” Slusari wrote in his Facebook post.
Slusari writes that the General Prosecutor’s Office is trying to make the billion theft case a showcase and a screen for not investigating the other resonance cases, covering up the other criminals who plundered the country in the last ten years.
Platon’s Lawyers Opinion
Ion Crețu, one of the lawyers of the controversial businessman, mentioned that “finally, we were heard – not to hold an innocent person in prison, but to hold accountable those who committed the crime.” Crețu urged people who against Platon’s release from prison to stop supporting the real beneficiaries from the billion theft, and stop representing Plahotniuc’s interests, by sending false messages to the citizens.
Other Cases Against Platon Are in the First Court
Thus, the Chișinău Court is currently examining three criminal cases targeting Platon. In the next period, the court could decide to merge all three criminal cases pending at the Chișinău Court.
The Chișinău Court will resume the criminal case, in which Platon was previously sentenced to 12 years in prison for attempted fraud and corruption from the beginning. The case will be analyzed without the application of preventive measures.
The first court examines two other criminal cases targeting Platon. In one of the cases, Platon is accused that at the beginning of 2013 he would’ve come into possession of a copy of magistrate Svetlana Novac’s identity documents, who was working at the Supreme Court of Justice during that period. Then, Platon would’ve opened in her name a deposit account of 300,000 euros at a foreign bank and later he ordered putting into circulation the card in question, without the knowledge of the judge, carrying out the continuous withdrawal, through 99 banking operations, of the amount of 297,000 dollars. The Anticorruption Prosecutor’s Office claimed that Platon carried out the actions following the purpose of denigrating the public image of the magistrate. This case reached the court in August 2019.
Another case pending in the court is based on the statements given by Ilan Shor, Moldovan businessman who fled the country in June 2019. The first hearing on this case took place in May 2019. In this case, Platon is accused of fraud and money laundering, as in the first case. Shor declared that he granted credits at Platon’s request, who misled him. Following Shor’s statement, the case against Platon was opened.