Billion-dollar Bank Fraud Testimonies: “Every Month He Gave Me $100 To Be Always Available on the Phone.”
Three managers of the companies investigated in the billion-dollar bank fraud case made statements for the first time about their involvement. They revealed the way the companies obtained millions of dollars under credit agreements causing over 550 million dollars damage to Banca de Economii, Banca Sociala, and Unibank.
The administrators of the three companies that appear in the Kroll report told the judges that they knew nothing about the scheme in which they were involved and that they were paid $100 a month to sign documents. The Caritas Group, Provolirom, and Dracard companies’ representatives declared that “I didn’t know what I was signing”, “I don’t know how many contracts I signed” or “I don’t know what the amounts were.”
In the summer of 2020, the prosecutors detained the presumed beneficiaries of three companies through which hundreds of millions of dollars were withdrawn from the three banks involved in the bank fraud. They testified in court in a review case in which controversial businessman Veaceslav Platon had previously been sentenced, irrevocably, to 18 years in prison. Platon allegedly obtained, through illegal schemes, about 1 billion lei (around 200 million euros) from Banca de Economii, following some loans granted for companies run by a third party.
“I probably found out that I am the director of this company on the internet.”
In 2015, tracking the billion owners, ZdG tried to contact Andrei Nirauța, the manager of Caritas Group, one of the companies affiliated to deputy Ilan Shor, through which money was withdrawn from bankrupt banks. The company had its headquarters in the center of Chișinău but its owner, Andrei Nirauța, never showed up there. Also in 2015, ZdG managed to talk to Andrei Nirauța’s father, who said that his son had drug problems. Five years later, after a court hearing in Veaceslav Platon’s review case, ZdG managed to talk to Andrei Nirauța. He told us that he did not know that the company he ran even had an office. Moreover, Nirauța stated that he did not know what he was involved in 2014 and that he found out later that through him large loans were taken from banks: “As I remember, I read about Caritas Group on the internet and found out that I am the director of this company.”
During the court hearing while reviewing Platon’s case, Andrei Nirauța reported that in 2014 he met a certain Alexandru Boiarschi who made him sign several documents. He was not aware what documents he had signed, which, in fact, were credit agreements. Nirauța declared that he was an active drug user at the time, this is one of the reasons that he does not remember things clearly. Andrei Nirauța specified that Alexandru Boiarschi offered him the job, which consisted of being “always available on the phone” and signing some documents. He was paid $100 a month for it.
“Boiarschi would telephone me and I would go with him somewhere and sign some documents. Nobody explained to me what I was signing. I didn’t even see what I was signing. I would go to the office and they would tell me where to put my signature. I didn’t know who I worked for,” Nirauța declared in court.
“I didn’t even know about loans, I didn’t know anything.”
They had to go and sign papers in a place in the center of Chișinău, where several companies affiliated to Ilan Shor have their offices, as well as the headquarters of the Shor Party. According to Nirauța, he met a certain Vladimir Mihailovici in that place whose full name he does not know: “Vladimir Mihailovici is an old man, now he is in a wheelchair. I met with him monthly. He would give me $100 each month. I understood they paid me to be always available on the phone.”
Andrei Nirauța also told the judges that Vladimir Mihailovici was the one who reportedly found a lawyer for him, and gave him instructions: “Vladimir Mihailovici then told me to talk to this lawyer, but not to tell anyone I knew him. I don’t even remember his last name, but I recognized him in the photo, when I was detained in July 2020.”
Nirauța told the ZdG reporter that he works as a plumber and that is what he has been doing in recent years: “When I was with them (Boiarschi and Vladimir Mihailovici), I didn’t know about loans, I didn’t know anything. Every month, I received the 100 dollars from Boiarschi and then from Vladimir Mihailovici, even if I didn’t sign any more documents.”
In addition to the statements submitted in court in Platon’s review case, Nirauța claims that he also testified in court hearings in the case of Ilan Shor, which is pending at Cahul Court of Appeal.
“They told me I was going to get $100 a month and obviously that suited me.”
Ala Lala, who later changed her name into Ala Guțu, is the administrator of another company listed in the Kroll report and she allegedly followed the same scheme. She is the founder of the company Provolirom SRL, which also benefited from loans of millions from Banca de Economii. Ala Guțu reported in court that she became manager of the company through Alexandru Boiarschi, whom she knew for a long time.
“We were good friends with Boiarschi. I trusted him completely. At that time, I was on maternity leave and in a difficult situation. He offered to help me temporarily so that I could work as an administrator at Provolirom. They told me that I will receive 100 dollars per month and obviously this suited me,” Ala Guțu said.
She told the judges that, in addition to Boiarschi, she was also interacting with a certain Rodica, whose surname she does not know. According to her, Rodica delivered her the documents she had to sign. “Boiarschi called me and told me to meet Mrs. Rodica without delay. It was in the center of Chișinău (Shor Party headquarters). She would give me the documents to sign. I went there several times, Ala Guțu mentioned.
Mrs. Rodica accompanied her to the headquarters of the Global Business Center, the former residence of controversial businessman Vladimir Plahotniuc. Ala Guțu says that she went there to a notary, “At the notary, they showed me where to sign and after that, I left quickly. They didn’t let me read the documents. I trusted Boiarschi and I didn’t ask questions. I didn’t think of checking, especially issues I don’t really understand.”
Olga Bondarciuc, “Plahotniuc’s notary” had her office at Global Business Center. She was previously involved in the authentication of several documents concerning the business of the former leader of the Democratic Party.
“He just told me it was some kind of business, nothing specific.”
Ala Guțu also stated that at that time she had no reason not to believe Boiarschi, although he did not tell what he involved her in: “He told me it was some kind of business, nothing specific.” Ala Guțu stated in court that she interacted with two other people, except Boiarschi and Mrs. Rodica, one of whom was a certain man Denis.
“Denis gave me 3,000 euros and thanked me for the work,” said Ala Guțu. Asked what kind of work she refers to, Ala Guțu mentioned that she probably received the money for the signatures she put on the documents.
“I did not ask too many questions then. I thanked him and left. He then gave me his phone number, just in case,” said Ala Guțu, specifying that, later, during hearings, she recognized Denis in the photos that were presented to her and found out that, in fact, he is Denis Ulanov, a deputy from the Shor Party faction.
Guțu told the judges that she interacted with another man, whose name she does not know, but who called her and asked her to come to a currency exchange in the Chișinău’s centrum. Once there, Ala Guțu stated that the man handed her 600 or 700 euros: “I didn’t ask him why. He told me it was from Provolirom.”
Although the company she managed in the documents was targeted in the Kroll report, Ala Guțu told the judges that she was not heard or summoned to the Prosecutor’s Office until 2020, when she was detained. In a reaction posted on his Facebook page, the deputy Denis Ulanov, who is to be heard as a witness in Platon’s review case, wrote that he does not know Ala Guțu and never saw her.
“I knew about loans, but they assured me that these loans would be returned.”
Dracard SRL is another company listed in the Kroll report, which is part of the Shor group, founded on June 14, 2013, the same day as Provolirom. The company’s manager is Tatiana Dolghina, who was detained in the summer of 2020, together with Ala Guțu and Andrei Nirauța. Until her detention in 2020, Doghina stated that the Prosecutor’s Office did not call her for hearings. In 2015, ZdG contacted Tatiana Dolghina and she admitted that she manages Dracard SRL, claiming the company has nothing to do with the loans obtained from Banca de Economii. In the court, being heard in Platon’s review case, she stated that, at that time, she was working at the Shor holding and was transported by a car belonging to Klassika Asigurări, one of the successful businesses owned by the Shor family.
Similar to the managers of Provolirom and Caritas Group, Dolghina told the judges that the business was simple: she was paid $100 to sign some documents: “I signed documents, but I couldn’t see the contents. I knew about loans, but they assured that these loans would be returned.”
At Alexandru Boiarschi’s request, she had to go to the same place (Shor Party headquarters), as well as to the Global Business Center headquarters, where she was asked to sign some documents. Tatiana Dolghina also mentioned in court that she found out about her involvement in some illegal business in 2015 when Our Party leader Renato Usatîi read publicly her name from a list of people involved in the bank fraud.
ZdG asked the prosecutors if they identified and heard the persons whom the prosecution witnesses mentioned in the court, namely Alexandru Boiarschi and Vladimir Mihailovici. They declared that “the criminal investigation is ongoing”, and at this stage, no information can be provided. The testimonies of the so-called founders and administrators of the three companies listed in the Kroll report were made during the review of the case in which businessman Platon was sentenced to 18 years in prison. Seventeen hearings have taken place since September, of which only seven have been effective. The case examination is at the stage of judicial investigation, preceding hearings of the prosecution witnesses.
Based on the Kroll report, and the National Bank of Moldova’s details, in 2014, several companies known as belonging to the Shor group, including Caritas Group, Provolirom, and Dracard, removed out of the three banks around one billion dollars through fraud.