New Developments in the Cases Opened Against Judge Oleg Melniciuc
The criminal case opened against Judge Oleg Melniciuc for influence peddling has been closed, while the case opened against Melniciuc for illicit enrichment is under criminal investigation. At the same time, the criminal case in which the magistrate is accused of illicit enrichment and false statements is in court.
After Melniciuc’s case was transferred from the court, where he was working, to to the Anenii Noi Court, a district in the center of Moldova, Melniciuc asked the Supreme Court of Justice to relocate the criminal case from the Anenii Noi Court, Bender headquarters.
Melniciuc claimed that the examination is difficult and will not lead to a speedy solution, due to the big number of people that have to attend the trial and the epidemiological situation, which makes it impossible to transport several witnesses by car at such a distance. However, the Supreme Court of Justice rejected the request as unfounded.
At the same time, the interim head of the Anticorruption Prosecutor’s Office, Serghei Gavajuc, specified for ZdG that another criminal case, in which Melniciuc was suspected of influence peddling was closed on January 21, 2020, by prosecutor Roman Statnii for lack of criminal elements.
At the same time, Gavajuc informed us that there is another criminal case for illicit enrichment. The case is under criminal investigation. Gavajuc told us that the case investigates a difference between income and assets of over 10,000 euros (200,000 lei), identified in 2017.
In the summer of 2017, the prosecutors began investigating Oleg Melniciuc, a judge at Chișinău Court, Râșcani district. Melniciuc’s case was sent to the same court where he was working.
The case remained at the Chișinău Court for a year and only in December 2018, when Melniciuc returned from paternity leave, the Supreme Court of Justice decided to relocate the case to the Anenii Noi Court, a district in the center of Moldova.
The court claimed that because Melniciuc was acting as a judge at the Chișinău Court holding the trial there could create suspicions among independent observers on the court objectivity.
The first meeting in the Melniciuc case in Anenii Noi was held on December 31, 2019, and the next one is scheduled for February 13, 2020.
In the meantime, Melniciuc subject in two criminal cases was suspended by the Superior Council of Magistracy.
However, the judge continues to perform his duties at his previous workplace, after the Chișinău Court of Appeal issued a decision in October 2019 to cancel the Superior Council of Magistracy decision on his suspensions.
Among the three judges that issued the decision is Vladislav Clima, who was a former colleague of Melniciuc at the State University law faculty.
In May 2019, the former Prosecutor General, Eduard Harunjen, asked the Superior Council of Magistracy members to suspend Melniciuc from the position of the judge due to suspicions of influence peddling.
Back-then Harunjen stated that, in June-July 2017, Melniciuc, claiming to have influence over the judges, claimed, accepted and personally received 100,000 euros to make the judges issue a favorable judgment in favor of a person.
In these circumstances, Harunjen asked for the judge to be removed from the office and the magistrates accepted the request because if he continued to exercise his duties he could’ve influenced his case.
In the circumstances in which Melniciuc returned to office, the Superior Council of Magistracy has appealed to the Supreme Court of Justice. But the magistrates sent the case, by which the suspension decision was reversed back to the Court of Appeal, as there were several unclear things regarding the previous decision of the Court of Appeal.
The case in which Melniciuc is suspected of influence trafficking is still on the prosecutors’ table.
According to the anti-corruption prosecution, during 2013-2017, while acting as judge, Melniciuc intentionally included forged and incomplete data in his declaration of assets and personal interest.
Moreover, there are assets that are the property of the judge or his family, with a value that substantially exceeds their income and it was concluded, based on the evidence, that these assets could not have been legally obtained.
During the criminal investigation, the prosecutors have referred a series of irregularities in the declarations of assets and personal interests of the accused.
He omitted to include in his 2016 assets declaration an income of 2,500 euros (48,000 lei), obtained from a citizen, through a direct transfer to his bank card.
In order to increase the value of his declared goods, without evidence for the matter, he intentionally included in the same declaration incomplete and forged data regarding the sale of a real estate asset by indicating its value at 500 euros (10,000 lei) more that he previously declared.
At the same time, he indicated in his declaration a lower value for a purchased car – over 23,000 euros (450,000 lei), in order to match the total expenditures for 2016 to his income, so that the expenditures were limited to his legally declared income. However, the actual price of the purchased car constituted 41,000 euros.
The prosecutors concluded that the accused, while acting as a judge, had goods and properties that were worth substantially more than his legally obtained means, making it impossible for him to obtain these goods in a legal way.
ZdG has previously written that the Melniciuc purchased a series of commercial areas in Chișinău that were worth millions, that he then registered on his mother, who is retired.
In September 2014, ZdG was reporting that Elena Melniciuc, the mother of Oleg Melniciuc, who at that point was the president of the Chișinău Court, Râșcani district had a series of real estate assets registered on her name that had a cadastral worth exceeding 208,708 euros (4 million lei).
At that point, the citizens residing in the same village with the judge’s mother said that she did not own any businesses and that her entire life she had worked in the kolkhoz.
Oleg Melniciuc was the president of the Chișinău Court, Râșcani district as of June 2013, when he was appointed, after a series of controversies, through a presidential decree by the then country President, Nicolae Timofti.
Previously, he was the deputy president of the same court, being often in the attention of the press, that was criticizing him for his behavior. Melniciuc is the godson of Mihai Poalelungi, the former president of the Supreme Court of Justice and the former president of the Constitutional Court.