National Anti-Corruption Centre: UK willing to assist Moldova in recovering criminal assets on British territory belonging to persons “hiding from justice”
The recovery of criminal assets located in overseas jurisdictions was discussed on Friday, 23 September, by the Director of the National Anti-Corruption Centre (CNA), Iulian Rusu, with a delegation of experts from the UK. According to a CNA press release, Iulian Rusu stressed the importance of cooperation with similar authorities in the UK to facilitate the process of recovering assets located on British territory belonging to persons “hiding from justice in Moldova”.
“We are interested in identifying their assets, as well as shell companies registered on the territory of the British Isles, where the proceeds of crime are also hidden. The whole process is taking us a very long time. Parliament recently gave us a new tool by passing the law on the trial of criminal cases in absentia and we will use it. But we need support to remove some bureaucratic barriers. We want closer communication with all those who can provide us with support,” said Iulian Rusu.
The CNA director also referred to the authorities’ efforts to strengthen the capacities of the institutions to ensure their proper functioning. According to Iulian Rusu, although the ARBI and prosecutors “are making colossal efforts to investigate criminals and recover criminal assets”, a better functionality of all state institutions involved in the act of justice would be needed.
“We are in the process of reforming the self-governing bodies of judges and prosecutors. They are subject to the external evaluation procedure, pre-vetting. We expect the first results soon. The recovery process also depends on the pace of the judicial system and, of course, on its integrity”, stressed the CNA Director.
For their part, British experts, who are currently advising the UK government as former prosecutors on money laundering and counter-terrorism cases, have expressed their willingness to provide operational support in ensuring the recovery of criminal assets under UK jurisdiction.
To date, the CNA’s Criminal Asset Recovery Agency (CARA) has identified assets and seized assets worth around 6 billion lei, some of which have been identified in foreign jurisdictions.
Several persons from Moldova have previously been announced as international wanted persons in criminal proceedings. The Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office (PA) previously claimed to have repeatedly requested the Interpol Bureau in December 2021 to put the controversial businessman Veaceslav Platon on international wanted list. At the same time, prosecutors announced that they would send the necessary materials to the British authorities with a view to requesting Veaceslav Platon’s extradition from the UK.
Also at the beginning of 2022, PCCOCS officials announced that a request for a rogatory commission had been formulated and sent to the UK authorities, where the politician – Colonel Gheorghe Cavcaliuc was located, and requested the submission of Cavcaliuc’s indictment in the cases of Gheorghe Petic and Ruslan Verbițchi.
Ziarul de Gardă also previously wrote about Constantin Botnari, nicknamed “Borsetka”, former secretary general of the Democratic Party, who is reportedly wanted and under investigation in a criminal case for overstepping his official duties and instigating the falsification of public documents.
At the same time, in London, a company affiliated to his family was recruiting staff for the opening of an establishment in an upmarket district of the English capital. The company was registered in November 2019, shortly after Constantin Botnari left the country with his entire family without restrictions.