Prosecutors Confirm Vladimir Plahotniuc’s Involvement in Metalferos Case

Prosecutors Confirm Vladimir Plahotniuc’s Involvement in Metalferos Case
06 August 2020 | 14:04

Prosecutors confirmed the information revealed by ZdG that Vladimir Plahotniuc, former leader of the Democratic Party, was direct or indirect beneficiary of several offshore companies that obtained tens of millions of dollars from Metalferos, a joint-stock company, in which the state is the major shareholder and which was recently taken out for privatization.

On August 3, the General Prosecutor’s Office, jointly with officers from the Security and Intelligence Service and officials of the Internal Protection and Anticorruption Service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, carried out several searches at the National Inspectorate for Investigation of the General Police Inspectorate. As a result, four officers of the Economic Fraud Investigation Directorate were detained, and 12 other persons, who were part of a criminal group, led by Plahotniuc.  

The actions were taken a few days after ZdG published the article – Vladimir Plahotniuc Appears as Direct Beneficiary in Companies Benefitting from Business with the State.

The Office of the Prosecutor General Offers a Press Release

“There were carried out 31 searches at the headquarters of the Metalferos head and intermediate companies, through which the metals were purchased and the money was liquefied. Additionally, searches were carried at the headquarters of the National Inspectorate for Investigations. As a result, 16 persons were detained, including four police officers from the Economic Fraud Investigation Directorate of the National Inspectorate for Investigations.

Several objects and documents, relevant for this criminal case, were removed. These actions were taken as a result of a series of criminal prosecution actions, special investigation measures, and the analysis of a wide range of financial and legal documentation. Other criminal prosecution actions, targeting other persons involved in the fraud of the company, are planned for the future,” a press release of the General Prosecutor’s Office mentions.

On August 3, the safenews.md portal published a detention order in this case. The document contains several elements from the criminal case, as well as names of offshore companies about which ZdG wrote last week that they are affiliated to Vladimir Plahotniuc.

The ordinance, signed by prosecutor Vladislav Căruceru, reveals more evidence that Plahotniuc directly or through intermediaries, was involved in the schemes that embezzled Metalferos in the last decade.

The ordinance mentions that starting with 2012, Plahotniuc, who has three other identities: Plakhotnyuc Vladimir, Novac Vladislav, or Ulinici Vladimir would have created and led a criminal organization through the citizen Iurie Cecan and the former director of Metalferos, Alexei Țîmbrovski.

Prosecutors say they have established dozens of people involved in the “criminal organization”, who “maintained the economic activity of Metalferos” through several companies and transactions.

Prosecutors claim that Metalferos did not purchase the ferrous metal directly from metal collectors, but made bank transfers to the accounts of economic operators who were, directly or indirectly, controlled by leaders of criminal groups, paying about 260 dollars per ton of ferrous metal, depending on the price set by the stock exchange. Out of this sum, 250 dollars were redirected to other economic operators who were also controlled, directly or indirectly, by members of the criminal group.

Metalferos Transferred 260 dollars for a ton of metals, while the real price was only 150 dollars

Subsequently, the 250 dollars was cash drawn, based on forged acts for the purchase of metals from individuals, most of the residents of the breakaway Transnistria region.

Metal scraps collectors received 150 dollars out of the 250 dollars cash drawn money, which was the real price paid to individuals for the purchased ferrous metals.

Prosecutors say the leaders of the criminal groups got the remaining 100 dollars per ton of purchased metal. Consequently, they passed on the money to Metalferos decision-makers, and later, through Iurie Cecan, the money reached the leader of the criminal organization.

At the same time, the prosecutors established that several persons ensured the surveillance of the non-deviation of the dictated price by illegally collecting the information about the families of the metal collectors.

If there were deviations from the dictated price, Marcel Caminschi, Veaceslav Cara, Andrei Ghidirimschi, and Pavel Lungu, collaborators of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, who were detained in this case, intervened. They abusively initiated criminal cases or notified criminal investigation bodies to initiate investigations or criminal proceedings targeting those who did not comply with the rules. They intimidated people by conducting searches, with or without liability.

The same ordinance mentions that Vladimir Plahotniuc organized, through another criminal group, a scheme for the export of ferrous and non-ferrous metals through non-resident companies of which he was beneficiary. The prosecutors confirmed the information previously presented by ZdG about the Metoil Trading LLP and Metoil Trading FZE companies, through which the metals were exported to Turkey, Germany, Austria or the Netherlands. Prosecutors also stated that other non-resident companies were involved in the scheme, including the Swiss company Florsilk Limited. “Based on fake contracts signed between Metalferos representatives and non-resident companies, they bought metal from Metalferos at a reduced price and then resold it to the final beneficiaries, at prices 22 percent higher,” the prosecutors’ ordinance writes. Subsequently, as ZdG wrote last week, the difference in money reached other offshore companies directly or indirectly controlled by Vladimir Plahotniuc: Innotube SRL, Steel Marketing LTD or Rowallan Overseas.

The prosecutors confirm in the ordinance that Ion Axentii, the one who represented Metoil Trading LTD, is listed as founder of Prodmezel-Exim, administered in 2002-2005 by Vladimir Andronachi, deputy of the Democratic Party. Although the deputy’s activity is linked to other companies involved in the Metalferos schemes, prosecutors declined to say whether Andronachi has a procedural capacity in this criminal case.

ZdG wrote on July 30 about three companies that in recent years claimed, directly or indirectly, tens of millions of dollars from contracts with Metalferos, a joint-stock company in which the state is the major shareholder.  Vladimir Plahotniuc, former leader of the Democratic Party, announced in search by the law enforcement bodies in Chișinău, had the signatory right or was beneficiary at these three companies. The money went into the accounts of the companies affiliated with Plahotniuc, including the time when he held public office. However, the former politician mentioned neither the money nor the companies in the declarations of assets and personal interest.

The law enforcement bodies has held the same documents analyzed by ZdG for more than eight months. Despite all the evidence, the criminal investigation in this case, tracking a deputy from the current majority coalition in Parliament, is still going on.

ZdG previously requested a comment from Vladimir Plahotniuc on this case. The former party leader and deputy has not yet answered our questions. 

Vladimir Plahotniuc left Moldova in June 2019, on the same day that the Democratic Party of Moldova ceded power. The Public Property Agency announced that between August 17-21 the controlling share held by the state in Metalferos will be sold in an auction.

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