The First Judge Sentenced to Prison for Illicit Enrichment

The First Judge Sentenced to Prison for Illicit Enrichment
by
06 September 2021 | 13:38

Oleg Melniciuc is the first judge to reach the dock for illicit enrichment. He was sentenced, by the first instance, to seven years in prison with execution in a closed penitentiary.

In a comment to Ziarul de Gardă, the judge mentioned that he is waiting to see the motivated sentence by which he was sentenced to seven years in prison for illicit enrichment and false statements in the declaration of wealth, and later, the judge says, he will attack the decision at the Court of Appeal.

The judge was not present at the court hearing, as he was at work at the Chișinău Court.

“I consider the sentence unfounded. Of course, I will challenge it. I am waiting to see the motivation because motivation is important in this case. I didn’t go to the meeting. We will study the sentence and I will certainly appeal. (…) The sentence will enter into force only when the decision is final,” the judge declared.

The sentence of conviction of judge Oleg Melniciuc was issued on Friday, September 3, by Judge Aurelia Pleşca from the Anenii Noi Court, based in Bender District.

Melniciuc was sentenced to 7 years in prison with execution for illicit enrichment and false statements, with deprivation of the right to hold certain positions or to exercise a certain activity in the field of jurisprudence for 15 years.

Through the sentence issued, the magistrates maintained the seizure applied by the prosecutors in order to extensively confiscate the defendant’s assets and financial means in a total amount of over 50,000 euros.

The criminal case in which Melniciuc is suspected of illicit enrichment was opened in the summer of 2017 at the request of the general prosecutor and was sent to the table of magistrates at the Chișinău Court, where Melniciuc was working. For a year, the case was on the table of the magistrates from the Chișinău Court, and only in December 2019, when Melniciuc returned from vacation, the Supreme Court of Justice decided to move the trial of the criminal case to the Anenii Noi Court. The reason was that Melniciuc works as a judge in the Chișinău Court, and the trial could raise “suspicions by some independent observers about the objectivity of the court.”

The first hearing in Melniciuc’s case at Anenii Noi took place on December 31, 2019. He requested the relocation of the criminal case, but the Supreme Court of Justice rejected his request as unfounded.

In May 2019, the former prosecutor general, Eduard Harunjen, asked the Supreme Council of Magistracy members to suspend Melniciuc from the position of judge for the suspicion of committing influence peddling. Harunjen stated then that in June-July 2017, Melniciuc, claiming to have influence over judges received a 100,000 euros bribe to make judges issue a decision in favor of a person. In these circumstances, given that the act committed is incompatible with the office of judge, Harunjen asked the institution to suspend Melniciuc from office, and the Supreme Council of Magistracy members found that “the continued exercise of office by Judge Melniciuc could affect the impartial conduct of criminal proceedings.”

ZdG wrote in the past that magistrate Melniciuc allegedly purchased a series of commercial spaces in Chișinău at a price of millions, which he registered in the name of his retired mother. In September 2014, ZdG wrote that Elena Melniciuc, the mother of Oleg Melniciuc, then president of the District Court, Râșcani, had registered on her name several real estates in Chișinău, the cadastral value of which exceeds the amount of 200,000 euros. Then the people from the village where the magistrate’s mother lived said that she had no income besides her pension and that she had worked all her life in the kolkhoz. Contacted then by ZdG, the magistrate claimed that he did not know many details about the fate of the purchased buildings. Melniciuc constantly received donated money from his mother. He indicated that in 2013, he received a donation of 2,500 euros from his retired mother. We found also that in the 2012 wealth declaration, Oleg Melniciuc indicated that he received a donation of 500 euros from his mother. In 2013, his wife also received a donation of 4,000 euros, just like in 2012.

Oleg Melniciuc has been the president of the Râșcani District Court since June 2013, when he was appointed, after several controversies, by presidential decree, by president Nicolae Timofti. Previously, he held the position of vice-president of this court, often being in the spotlight of the press, which criticized him for his behavior. Melniciuc is the grandson of Mihai Poalelungi, the former president of the Supreme Court of Justice and former president of the Constitutional Court.

According to the Anticorruption Prosecutor’s Office during 2013-2017, acting as a judge, Melniciuc intentionally included incomplete or false data in the declaration of wealth. Moreover, the prosecutors found goods the value of which substantially exceeds the acquired means and, based on the evidence, the property could not be obtained legally.

During the criminal investigation, the prosecutors noticed several irregularities in the process of declaring the wealth. The judge omitted the inclusion in the wealth declaration for 2016, of an income of 2,500 euros, obtained from another person on his bank account. In order to unfoundedly increase the declared income, he intentionally included in the same declaration, incomplete and false data regarding the selling of a building, indicating a value higher by approximately 500 euros than he had previously declared. At the same time, he indicated in his declaration, a lower price value for a car – 20,000 euros instead of the real price of 41,000 euros.

The prosecutors found that the judge owned property whose value substantially exceeds the legally acquired means. Thus, the magistrate and his wife, although they indicated in the wealth declarations for the period 2014-2016, total incomes obtained in the amount of 75,000 euros, it was established that during this period, the spouses made payments and withdrawal in the total amount of 100,000 euros. The expenses prevail the incomes with 25,000 euros, a fact which ascertains the substantial difference between the acquired wealth and the incomes obtained by the subject of the declaration together with the family members in the sense of the provisions of the Law on declaring the wealth and personal interests.

AUTHOR MAIL eng.zdg@gmail.com

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