INVESTIGATION: Power and Wealth – The Evolution of Igor Dodon Since He Came to the Public Office Until He Abandoned His Parliamentary Mandate
Igor Dodon, the leader of the Party of Socialists of Moldova resigned as a deputy in the Chișinău Parliament. At a press conference on October 18, he said his role as the opposition leader has changed completely in the new circumstances and that he could be “more effective and helpful to citizens and businesses” outside parliament. Thus, Igor Dodon, who in the last 20 years has held exclusively public office, claims that he does not retire from public space, and from now on he will hold the position of President of the Moldovan-Russian Union of Entrepreneurs, which, according to him, was registered in June this year in Chișinău.
“I decided to give up my deputy mandate in the Chișinău Parliament. I know that some are now rejoicing or grieving. To be honest, I see no reason to be in this Parliament. I consider that I can be efficient in other functions (…). I intend to be more active in communicating with the citizens and in promoting the ideas of the Socialist Party. I will visit the districts of the country more often, I will have a 100% popular agenda. I change my job as a parliamentarian for a more dynamic one to be with the people and the local producers, and I am going to deal with this in the coming years (…). To more effectively strengthen relations with the Russian Federation, I accepted the invitation to head the Moldovan-Russian Union of Entrepreneurs, the founder of which on the Russian side is Delovaia Rossiya, the largest business association in the Russian Federation, which unites 7 000 members with a turnover of about $ 40 billion and more than 3 million employees in various sectors,” Dodon said at a press conference.
Ziarul de Gardă has analyzed the declarations of wealth and income submitted by the socialist leader over the years and presents the most relevant information.
Igor Dodon’s career began in 2001 as president of the Joint Stock Company National Depository of Securities of Moldova, member of the Board of Directors. Until 2005, he held the positions of President of the Limited Liability Company Universal Commodity Exchange of Moldova, member of the Stock Exchange Committee as well as a member of the Council of Experts under the National Securities Commission. He has come to the attention of public opinion, however, in 2005-2006, when he was appointed Deputy Minister of Economy and Trade, and shortly thereafter became Minister of Economy in the Tarlev Government, a position he held until 2009 in the Greceanîi Government.
A two-room apartment and a monthly salary of over 500 euros
According to his declaration of wealth, submitted to the Central Electoral Commission in 2009, when he was Minister of Economy and First Deputy Prime Minister in the Greceanîi Government, from January 1, 2007, to December 31, 2008, he received 215,777.31 lei as salary, another 36,468 lei for his work by cumulation (i.e. 10,510 lei per month) and 82,660 lei as member of the Board of Directors of JSC Moldtelecom. At that time, Dodon was running for parliament on the lists of the Communist Party of Moldova and declared a 56-square-meter two-room apartment, located on Calea Orheiului Street, and two cars – a Mazda 6 (2003) and a Nissan Hierro (2006). He did not declare then that he had bank deposits.
On April 5, 2009, Igor Dodon was elected deputy in the Chișinău Parliament from the Party of Communists of Moldova. According to the information submitted to the Central Electoral Commission, from January 1, 2008, to December 31, 2009, he received 259 510 lei (over 10,000 lei per month) as salary and 36,468 lei from scientific work. Dodon declares the apartment on Calea Orheiului Street and a Toyota car, manufactured in2003.
Until 2011, Dodon served as a member of Parliament’s Permanent Bureau and a member of the Parliamentary Committee on Economy, Budget, and Finance from the Communist Party.
In May 2011, ZdG wrote that Dodon’s neighbors on A. Xenopol Street in the Buiucani sector almost daily saw Igor Dodon, who was then running for mayor of Chișinău, enter the courtyard of a three-story house, which was almost ready to be put into operation. Although several people announced then that Reconscivil Company built the house for the Dodon family, the politician denied that he would live there or that he intended to move house. Igor Dodon declared that he was renting an apartment in the center of Chișinău, as he let some of his relatives live in the apartment on Calea Orheiului. The deputy stated that he “put the apartment up for sale”, and that he was considering how to improve his living conditions. Dodon refused to talk about the house in Buiucani and denied that it belonged to him. “I don’t comment on gossip and rumors (…). Are you referring to the house in Buiucani? My brother and godfather live in the neighborhood, in the multi-story blocks of flats. Maybe the neighbors see me there when I visit them,” Dodon said. Two years later, however, he registered the house with the Agency for Land Relations and Cadastre, although he previously claimed that he had nothing to do with it.
In November 2011, Dodon left the Party of Communists of Moldova and joined the Party of Socialists, and in December 2011 he was elected president of the Party of Socialists.
In the declarations of wealth and personal interests for the years 2013 to 2016, Igor Dodon allegedly provided conflicting information about the house. Thus, in the declaration of wealth for 2013, he indicated a 162.1 square-meter house that he purchased in 2013. The same year, the Dodon family bought a Toyota RAV-4 worth 122 669 lei. Subsequently, in the declaration of wealth and personal interests for 2016, Igor Dodon indicated the house was acquired in 2013, only with an area of 422.80 square meters. The official indicated that, in 2013, he received 146,870.41 lei as salary and 50,138 lei as allowances.
In October 2016, ZdG wrote that Igor Dodon, then the Socialist Party candidate for the presidency, was paying more than half of the family’s monthly income to repay a loan of 1,47 million lei, contracted in 2013 from Victoriabank, used to purchase the luxury house in the Buiucani sector of Chișinău. Although neither he nor his wife owned companies, Dodon’s name was inconspicuously involved through various intermediaries, including close relatives, in businesses of millions. His sister-in-law, for example, managed an LLC that in recent years has won no less than 50 public tenders worth over 1,5 million lei, while his friends and party colleagues, apparently poor, own companies and prosperous businesses.
The political rise and luxury vacations of the Dodon family
On November 18, 2016, Igor Dodon won the presidency and resigned from the party and its leadership. According to the declaration of wealth and personal interests for 2016, submitted to the National Integrity Authority, Dodon declares 182,559.45 lei as salary, as well as allowances worth 68,515 lei. The Dodon family declares an urban lot with an area of 0.059 acres, with a cadastral value worth 451,987 lei.
In November 2016, ZdG wrote about the interests of Igor Dodon’s relatives at Sadovo recreation center. A UK-registered company, Chester Business LP, bought the property in July 2015, just one month earlier. In particular, the British company took over Baza de Odihnă Sadovo SRL, which owned the entire property, and Mihail Porubin, a close associate of the former President of Moldova Igor Dodon, was appointed administrator.
On the eve of the 2016 presidential election, repair works of the recreation center were in full swing. ZdG wrote then that it was Ghenadie Merineanu, Dodon’s brother-in-law, who supervised the works. Meanwhile, the renovation of the recreation center was completed, and the villagers said that Dodon spent most of his free weekends there.
With his political rise, Igor Dodon, accompanied by his family members, enjoyed several vacations, which he announced publicly. As a rule, family vacations took place in luxury resorts or hotels. In January 2020, ZdG posted additional information and photos about some of the luxury vacations the Dodon family relished in the last decade: Maldives, Seychelles, Dubai, or an exclusive villa on the premises of one of the most luxurious hotels on the Aegean coast in Turkey.
In July 2021, Igor Dodon ran for parliament from the Bloc of Communists and Socialists, ranking second on the list, after Vladimir Voronin, leader of the Communist Party of Moldova. According to the declaration submitted then to the Central Electoral Commission, the leader of the Socialist Party indicated that in 2019 he received from the Office of the President of Moldova a salary amounting to 226,727.89 lei, and in 2020 he received 321,207.66 lei. Galina Dodon, in the last two years, obtained higher incomes than her husband, so that, in 2019, she received 395,717.50 lei, and in 2020 – 377,850 lei from Exclusiv Media SRL, a company registered in the name of Corneliu Furculiță. Back in 2016, the company was accused of illegal financing of the Socialist Party of Moldova and a criminal case was initiated.
In his declaration of wealth, Igor Dodon indicates the urban lot of 0.059 acres worth about 451,985 lei, acquired in 2013, as well as the house of 422.8 square meters that he registered at the Cadastral Office also in 2013. The leader of the Socialists also indicates the loan of 1,477 million lei, taken from Victoriabank, with an interest rate of only 8%, which he contracted in 2013 and which he has to repay by 2028. In the declaration submitted to the Central Electoral Commission this year Dodon does not indicate any car or other real estate.
ZdG tried to get Igor Dodon’s reaction to the information presented in the article, but his phone was disconnected. ZdG also requested a reaction from Carmena Sterpu, the Socialist Party spokesperson; however, we received no answer before this article was published.
The criminal case to investigate the passing of “kuliok”
In May 2020, Igor Dodon was targeted in a criminal case, after video images from the discussions of Igor Dodon, Vladimir Plahotniuc, and Serghei Iaralov appeared in the public space, in which the former received a black bag (kuliok) from Vladimir Plahotniuc.
Former deputy Iurie Reniță presented, during a briefing, a video of Dodon’s meeting with Plahotniuc and Iaralov that allegedly took place in 2019, in which Plahotniuc passed a black bag to Dodon. Reniță said then that there was money in that bag and requested to initiate the procedure for dismissing Dodon from Office, who, at that time, was President of Moldova. The former head of state said that everything was “rigged” and that he had no idea of what was in the bag that appears in the video, although Dodon’s conversation with Plahotniuc revealed that the content of the bag was intended to pay the fees to the members of the Socialist Party.
Also in 2020, commenting on the famous video with that black bag that Dodon receives from Plahotniuc, Alexandr Stoianoglo, then Prosecutor General, said that a procedural decision was taken: “The case will not be investigated, and if anyone disagrees, they can sue the Prosecutor’s Office.” A year later, at the beginning of September 2021, during the TV show “Constellations of Moldova with Artur Efremov”, Stoianoglo declared that there is not enough evidence to hold someone accountable in the ‘kuliok’ case, but he was convinced that there was money in that bag: “I am convinced that there was money, however, what I think is one thing and what actual evidence we have, is another. We can only accuse people based on the evidence we have on this case.”
ZdG contacted Dumitru Robu, the interim Prosecutor General, to find out whether, following the suspension of Alexandr Stoianoglo, the case investigating the passing of “kuliok” will be resumed, but he did not respond to ZdG’s calls and message.
The criminal case „Bahamas”
Meanwhile, investigative journalists revealed a scheme by which the Party of Socialists received money from offshore areas or from dubious people. Rise Moldova wrote that the Party of Socialists would have received multimillion-dollar sponsorship coming from a secret business with an offshore company from the Bahamas linked to the Russian Federation. The company allegedly transferred over 30 million lei, an amount far exceeding the Socialist Party budget from the 2015 local elections, and the money entered Moldova a few months before the 2016 presidential elections, through Exclusiv Media.
Thus, based on loan agreements, millions of lei came from this company to several people close to the party and its sponsors. Although it comes from the Bahamas, the loan agreement signed by the offshore company and the company of deputy Corneliu Furculiţă was drafted in Russian and English, and all disputes caused by the contract were regulated by the material and procedural legislation of the Russian Federation. Employees from Exclusiv Media constantly made generous donations to the Socialist Party. They donated, for example, about 85,000 lei each during the 2014 election campaign.
In September 2020, the then Prosecutor General Alexandr Stoianoglo said in a television show that the “Bahamas” was “a classic case of money laundering, like hundreds of others and not one about illegal financing of a party,” that is of the Party of Socialist.
“I did much more in the “Bahamas” case than anyone before me. We invited 29 persons for hearings, it’s a money laundering case, and it’s not an illegal financing case. There are hundreds of such cases of money coming from offshore and these cases are in the air. We heard 29 people, we requested information from the tax office, from the National Integrity Authority. We check if this is an incomplete statement, is it a violation of the law? We have enough information, and currently, we are waiting for an answer from Switzerland and, as it comes, we will make a decision on the case. This can take a month, but it can also take a year. Three deputies from the Parliament were also heard: Corneliu Furculiță, Vladimir Odnostalco, and Vasile Bolea,” said Stoianoglo.
In March 2020, the General Prosecutor’s Office announced the continuation of the criminal prosecution in the case initiated on charges of money laundering involving persons affiliated to the Party of Socialists, opened in 2016 and previously left without proceedings more than three years.
Following the parliamentary elections of July 11, the Action and Solidarity Party obtained 63 seats, the Electoral Bloc of Communists and Socialists – 32 seats, and the Political Party Shor – 6 seats.