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Home News Russia accuses top Moldova politician of money laundering

Russia accuses top Moldova politician of money laundering

Published on 22/02/2019

Russian authorities said Friday they uncovered a money laundering scheme involving Moldova’s powerful oligarch and politician Vlad Plahotniuc, two days ahead of parliamentary elections in the ex-Soviet country.

Russia’s interior ministry said it had arrested a man in the Moscow region in a case of suspicious foreign exchange transactions that led to more than 37 billion rubles (around 50 million euros) being laundered.

It said Plahotniuc — considered to be Moldova’s most powerful man — was involved in the scheme. Plahotniuc, who is also leader of the ruling Democratic Party, holds both Russian and Moldovan nationality.

Moldova’s weekend parliamentary election is shaping up as a three-way race between the pro-Russian Socialist party of President Igor Dodon, the ruling Democratic party and a pro-European alliance.

Plahotniuc’s party said the Russian announcement was a “gross interference” in Moldova’s election due on Sunday.

Russian officials said the money laundering scheme ran between 2013 and 2014 when foreign currency funds were transferred to Russian bank accounts using forged documents.

In 2017, Moldova said it uncovered a vast criminal operation that had laundered nearly $21 billion dollars from Russia with the help of Moldovan judges.

Nicknamed the “Russian laundromat”, the complex operation involved fictitious loans between shell companies. Russian investigators said Friday nearly 500 people were involved, including Veaceslav Platon, a former lawmaker and one of Moldova’s richest men.

Platon was convicted in Moldova and sentenced to 18 years of prison for his role in the affair.