French magistrates have seized a real estate property of former PDM leader Vladimir Plahotniuc worth more than 83 million lei, PCCOCS announces
Following the request of the Prosecutor’s Office for Combating Organised Crime and Special Cases (PCCOCS), the Judicial Court of Thonon-les-Bains, France, has ordered the seizure of a property in the French town of Sciez, one of France’s elite areas, belonging to former PDM leader Vladimir Plahotniuc.
The French authorities informed the Prosecutor’s Office of this fact in a notification received recently, the General Prosecutor’s Office (PG) said in a statement.
“According to the estimates of the French authorities, the seized property is worth more than 4.2 million euros, which converted would exceed 83.5 million lei. The seizure is intended to guarantee the possibility of applying the complementary penalty of confiscation of the property in the criminal case being investigated by prosecutors in Moldova.
Citing the Cypriot authorities, the French investigating judge also indicates that the defendant Vladimir Plahotniuc allegedly created a criminal network at national and international level in 2009-2019, and with the involvement of the defendant Ilan Shor, registered Cypriot and Panamanian companies in England and opened bank accounts for the deposit of money embezzled from Moldovan banks,” the General Prosecutor’s Office announced.
Further, the seized assets are to be administered by AGRASC – a French agency similar to the Agency for the Recovery of Criminal Assets in Moldova – until a solution is reached on the case.
“The liaison magistrate of the French Embassy in Bucharest responsible for the Republic of Moldova, as well as the advisor to the President of the Republic of Moldova delegated by the French President for assistance to national law enforcement bodies in cooperation with French law enforcement bodies, provided valuable assistance in the effective implementation of the seizure. The criminal prosecution on the case is ongoing,” the PCCOCS officials also announce.
In January 2022, the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office (PA) notified lawyers of the indictment order with the completion of the charges against the former leader of the Democratic Party of Moldova (PDM), Vladimir Plahotniuc, in the case known generically as bank fraud.
According to the PA, Vladimir Plahotniuc is accused of a new episode related to bank fraud, being charged with three counts, as follows: creation and management of a criminal organization, fraud committed in particularly large proportions and money laundering committed by a criminal organization in particularly large proportions.
According to prosecutors, during 2014-2015, Plahotniuc allegedly received $21 million, money fraudulently obtained from Banca de Economii din Moldova bank, through companies owned by fugitive MP Ilan Shor. Prosecutors also allege that Plahotniuc used the money to buy a plane which he used for his personal interests and those of the organisation he created and later sold to third parties.
“The new episode incriminated to Vladimir Plahotniuc refers to the period 24.11.2014-29.06.2015, when the former PDM leader acting as the head of the criminal organization, being the beneficial owner and manager through interposed persons of several non-resident companies, received in the accounts, through resident companies founded by Ilan Shor, through interposed persons, financial means in the amount of 21 000 000 USD, which had as origin, bank loans fraudulently obtained from BC “Banca de Economii” SA”, announces the PA.
Vladimir Plahotniuc left Moldova in June 2019, after the party he led, PDM, handed over the government to a coalition formed by the ACUM Bloc and PSRM, which broke up in November 2019. In March 2020, the US Embassy in Chisinau confirmed that Plahotniuc is on US soil.
The PA requested Plahotniuc’s extradition in June 2020, when the former Democratic leader was located in the US, and in September 2020, when he was identified in Turkey, but no response to these requests from either country has been received by the authorities in Chisinau. On 1 October 2021, the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office submitted a repeated request to the Interpol National Central Bureau in Moldova asking the General Secretariat of the International Criminal Police Organization INTERPOL to issue an international wanted persons notice for Plahotniuc.
In June this year, the Chisinau Parliament approved in first reading a draft law which stipulates that criminal cases could be prosecuted in the absence of the person concerned if he or she evades prosecution or trial, which could be the case for Shor and Plahotniuc.
In July 2020, ZdG published an investigation revealing that Plahotniuc had signatory rights or was a beneficiary of at least three companies that directly or indirectly benefited tens of millions of dollars from contracts with Metalferos, a joint-stock company in which the state has a majority stake. The money went into the accounts of Plahotniuc’s affiliated companies, including when he was in public office, but neither the money nor the companies were listed in the former politician’s declarations of assets and interests.
Over the past 20 years, Metalferos has repeatedly been the target of accusations of corruption, being affiliated with former PDM leader Vladimir Plahotniuc and people in his entourage. ZdG has obtained and analysed dozens of documents confirming multiple allegations that have accompanied Metalferos’ activities over the past decade. Most of these issues are also being investigated by prosecutors in a criminal case opened in December 2019, but the case has no finality.