About 18 billion dollars, 17 judges, three "ghost" cases whose signatories are missing, a case destroyed and a judge unwillingly involved in the scheme of legalizing "black" money in the Russian Federation.
In the period 2010-2014, the Republic of Moldova has turned into a real "laundering" of large amounts of money from Russian Federation. The scheme included at least 17 Moldovan prosecutors who have legalized profits that would have been obtained illegally, wrote the Russian media. On the other hand, officials of the National Anti-Corruption Center say they cannot speak about “money laundering" in this case, because they did not get an answer from the Russian Federation concerning the origin of money.
Many of the judges who dictated verdicts in these cases were involved in raider attacks from the Moldovan banking system, but they were allowed to quit honorably the justice.
Movements in the Russian Federation
"Moldovan Scheme" of legalizing billions of dollars from Russia operated as follows: based on the requests of offshore companies in the UK, Belize, USA, South Africa, New Zealand or Scotland, magistrates from the Republic of Moldova obliged Russian companies and Moldovan citizens to return debts of hundreds of millions of dollars.
Alexander Grigoriev, business partner of Igor Putin (Russian President’s cousin) was arrested on October 30 current year in the Russian Federation. Grigoriev was detained for swindling by special Russian forces. Previously, „Rise Project” proved that Grigoriev is among the Russian beneficiaries who participated in millions of dollars laundering with the help of Moldovan judges. In Chisinau, just one judge was dismissed for involvement, what the Russians name “Moldovan scheme”- at the beginning of November, current year.
False resident visas
Though the acts annexed to the cases judged in the Republic of Moldova are dubious, all of them photocopies, they are not legalized and authenticated under the law, there are no necessary seals or signatures, the Moldovan judges accepted the majority of requests some days later or even on the day when they were filed.
23 citizens of the Republic of Moldova are involved in the scheme; some of them did not know what “business” they accepted after they signed white pages against some hundreds of dollars.
All cases based on which ordinances were issued to cash high sums of money from companies from the Russian Federation lack the ID document of the Moldovan citizen showing their residence. Thus, the name of Ivan Belekci, for example appears in 3 different cases at the Court Centru in Chisinau and at the Court Ungheni. In cases investigated by Liliana Andrias, as a mockery, the residence of Belekci is shown in one case, in the small town Codru, suburb of the capital and in the second case- in Codru, str. Costiujeni 8. We mention that this is the address of the mayoralty of the small town Codru. In the case investigated by Mihail Moraru from Ungheni, the same person Belekci is registered as living in village Novaia Nicolaevca in the same district.
„I have not signed anything”
Actually, Ivan Belekci, aged 60 lives in Chisinau, on str. Zelinski from sector Botanica of the capital. We found him in village Iargara, Leova, where the man lives after he has returned from Great Britain where he has been working for many years.
He thought that we joke when we asked him about the 3 court decisions obliging him to pay 1,540 billion dollars to some off-shore companies.
„I cannot understand how I can be involved in these schemes as I have never signed anything, I did not assume any debts, and I did not give my ID to someone. I have been just one time to the notary when I made my documents on property on the name of my daughter”, said the man. He pointed out that he had never lived in the small town Codru.
During the discussions, Belekci remembered that in 2010, before he left for England, he has worked as personal driver of the director of a legal company located on str. 31 August 1989 in Chisinau.
„I do not remember the name of the company. The heads of the company were Aliona and Oleg. Oleg was young, about 30 years old. They are the only one which I gave copies of the ID. Perhaps they are responsible for all this business?”, said the man.
Veaceslav Bass, another Moldovan involved in the scheme of money laundering, told us that he was attracted in the scheme by a man called Oleg which he knew since childhood.
Belecki suspects that someone could use his data from ID; especially that he was not in the country during the processes.
In the first part of the investigation, we named 6 judges who issued ordinances of billions and millions of dollars. Today, we reveal the names of other persons involved in the scandal of „Russian laundering”, the majority of them still activate in the courts from the Republic of Moldova.
Gheorghe Gorun - 790 million dollars
Former judge from the Court of Riscani District of the capital Gheorghe Gorun is the one who „gave green light” for „black money” from Russia. On October 22, 2010, he signed the first ordinance (case no. 2p/o – 644/2010) related to high sums of money from abroad– 180 million dollars on the day when the request was filed by the company „Valemont Properties LTD”. The Moldovan „Victim”, who was requested money and from 2 Russian companies– „Laita M” and „Spartak”, was Andrei Abramov from Chisinau, a modest man, current employee of Chisinau International Airport. Together with Veaceslav Bass, friend from the same block of flat, they signed in 2010 the documents which were given by the old friend “Oleg” against some hundreds of dollars. At present, Abramov does not want to discuss about the „error” of that time.
On March 13, 2013, Gorun signed an ordinance amounted at 610 million dollars from the Moldovan Sergiu Radu, from 4 Russian companies and one off-shore, at the request of „PR-Vert System Limited” from Great Britain (case no. 2p/o – 1046/2013). Though the loan offered by the off-shore company from Great Britain had a schedule to return the debts by July 11, 2013, Gorun forced the „debtors” to return the money on March 11, 4 months before, based on some unauthorized copies.
A year with „laundering” and a raider attack
In the period when he issued this ordinance, Gorun signed an ordinance to expropriate a company from the Netherlands from the share of 5% from „Moldova Agroindbank”. The shares were taken over in exchange of a fictive debt adjudicated by a Moldovan company, „Savilux Impex”.
For this decision, appreciated by the Minister of Justice by that time Oleg Efrim as a raider attack, Gorun was sanctioned by the Disciplinary Board of CSM with the proposal of dismissal. The members of the Board considered that this punishment is too tough and gave him „severe reprimand”. Thus, Gorun was established honorable conditions to quit the system in March 2014 and got compensation for leave amounted at over 60 thousands lei.
Accidentally or not, in 2013, the year when Gorun signed the ordinance of 610 million dollars and expropriated the Dutch company from the shares from „Moldova Agroindbank” (MAIB), the magistrate bought a car „Audi A5” of 16 thousands euros and a garage amounted at 200 thousands lei. Also, he declared a debt of 28 thousands euro.
Ion Gancear – 710 million dollars
Ion Gancear, magistrate at the Commercial District Court signed an ordinance on June 11 2013 (case no. p/o – 521/2013) related to the sum of 710 million dollars. The scheme was the same- an off-shore from Belize pretended a debt from 5 companies from the Russian Federation and from the Moldovan Evgheni Polcovnicov who has a residence visa in a house on str. Vasile Coroban from district Buiucani of the capital.
„I hear this name first time. He has never lived here and has no residence visa in my house. I have been living here since 1979”, said the owner of the house, Elena Iosif.
But according to the recent data from the Register of population control, Polcovnicov is still living in this house.
The same like Gorun, Ion Gancear was involved in 2013 in the so-called raider attack on MAIB. On June 12 2013, the issued an order on banning the Moldova National Bank to suspend the right of vote of the new and dubious shareholders of the bank. Though the decision was annulled by the Court of Appeal, the new shareholders of MAIB, from off-shore companies could vote with the change of the leadership of the bank and replaced Natalia Vrabie by Serghei Cibotari.
One June 18, one week after that order was issued; Gancear quitted the judiciary and got a compensation of dismissal estimated at one hundred thousand lei.
In 2010, the magistrate was accused of involvement in another raider attack, but the „targets” were some companies from the Ukrainian energy sector that were supposed to be expropriated with the help of an off-shore and a Moldovan company associated with the name of the controversial businessman Veaceslav Platon.
As the courts from the Republic of Moldova did not respect the law, the Ukrainian companies filed requests to relevant bodies from Ukraine aimed to initiate the procedure of annulment of the bilateral treaty between the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine on legal assistance and civil and penal relations signed in 1993.
Iurie Turcan – 700 million dollars
Judge Iurie Turcan from the Court of the District Rascani in Chisinau decided on May 3, 2013 to cash 700 million dollars for the company „Seabon Limited” (case no. 2p/o – 3134/13). The debtors in this case were 5 Russian companies, some of them appear in other ordinances, and from the resident of Chisinau Veaceslav Bass, we wrote in the last edition. The young man, living in a modest two room apartment together with his mother, his sister in law and the niece from brother who died, told us how he got involved in this „business”. He signed some documents against the sum of 600 dollars and he did not know the purpose of these papers.
Judge Iurie Turcan has many illegal actions. Currently, his name is registered in 2 criminal cases, one of them refers to the fraudulent management of some civil cases focused on huge sums of money, some of them related to granting some bad credits from Banca de Economii and the second case was started after the magistrate in 2013, based on a judiciary decision, forced the Chisinau City hall to organize a tender to sell some plots of land in Chisinau, and if the City Hall does not meet the decision, the auction will be organized by a judiciary executor. Following this decision, many plots of land from the capital were defalcated without the consent of the local authorities.
Also, Turcan is accused by prosecutors that he swindled the informational program of cases management (PIGD), thus he avoided the legal procedure of random distribution of civil cases.
Iurie Turcan quitted the seat of magistrate in January 2014 together with the judge Liliana Andrias with an indemnity leave amounted at 162 thousands lei.
Garri Bivol – 640 million dollars
In 2013, on February 14, the judge Garri Bivol from the Court of the District Center was involved in the „Russian money laundering” with a legalized sum of 640 million dollars (case no. 2p/o - 93/13). The Moldovan from this case is Vasile Radu and is registered with the home residence in suburb Codru, in a flat on str. Costiujeni. We went to that block of flats and the inhabitants said that they did not know any person with such a name in this block of flats.
I found Vasile on socialization nets. The man aged 31, takes care of two children and told us that „he has already solved this case and he does not want to discuss about it”. The photos posted on his webpage show that Vasile lives a modest life.
But the judge Garri Bivol still continues to do justice at the Court from District Center, though he was involved in many scandals in the past.
In 2011, he was accused of involvement in a raider attack over the shareholders of Banca de Economii. In that period, following 2 ordinances, one issued by the judge from Causeni Gheorghe Marchitan (involved in the so-called Russian laundering– n.r.) and another one signed by Garri Bivol, companies „Zilena Com” and „Minerva”, whose beneficiaries were Victor and Viorel Topa, were deprived of 18,49% from the shares at BEM.
In February 2014, Bivol obliged Chisinau City Hall to offer a flat to a magistrate, Serghei Papuca, though he got from the state both a flat and a plot of land for constructions.
Garry Bivol was issued many disciplinary procedures over the years, but he was saved all times. In September 2014, the CSM applied a warning because he admitted and ordered a decision in a case where the claimant had a similar case in the same court.
Garri Bivol is extremely busy. We tried to call him many times to talk to him; his assistant told us every time that the magistrate is „in meeting”.
Aurica Us – half of billion of dollars
Aurica Us, former magistrate at the Court from Rascani District, the court that delivered most of the ordinances from this scheme – 12, decided on January 29 2013 (case no. 2p/o – 1617/2013) that the Moldovan Oleg Podereghin, 4 Russian companies and a British off-shore have to pay a sum of 500 million dollars to another off-shore company– „Westburn Entreprises Limited No SC”.
According to documents annexed to the file, Podereghin had residence visa in the small town Cricova. This is the address, yet unregistered at „Cadastru” of journalist Vitalie Calugareanu.
„I do not know any Podereghin and I cannot understand how he can have home residence on this address as long as there is no house officially on this address. I am very curious to find out about it”.
I found Oleg Podereghin later in Durlesti. The man is working as a taxi driver and has just returned home. Together with his wife and child, they live in their parents’ house.
„Are you serious? 500 million dollars? I can’t imagine this sum! In 2010, I was asked by a friend, Alexei who was working as a collector at „Moldindconbank”, to sign some documents to guarantee the reimbursement of a credit by a company. I do not remember details, but surely it is not about a sum of 500 million dollars. Many of us signed, 12 persons”, said the man, and pointed out that he has never lived in Cricova.
Half a year after signing this ordinance, Us resigned as she reached the age limit.
The judge had scandalous cases in the past. In 2009, the magistrate obliged „Moldova-Gaz” to pay to a company 23 thousands lei as material damage for placing some pipes on the territory of the company. For this decision, Us got a disciplinary sanction in 2010.
Sergiu Lebediuc and Mihail Moraru – 300 million dollars each
Though the procuration annexed to the case lacked empowerments to sign some documents and the copy of the ID of Ivan Belekci on his residence was not annexed, Mihail Moraru from the Court Ungheni decided on December 6 2011 to cash 300 million dollars from Ivan Belekci, from 3 endorser companies from the Russian Federation and from the debtor „Mirabax Investments Limited” in Edinburgh.
The ordinance (case no. 2p/o – 3015/2011), Belekci is registered as inhabitant of village Novaia Nicolaevca in Ungheni. Belekci said that he did not know that there was such a village in the Republic of Moldova.
Mihail Moraru renounced on the seat of judge at the beginning of this month, on November 3.
Citizen with 3 „residencies”
Another „game” of residencies of Moldovan citizens happened at the Court Comrat. On 18 August 2011, Sergiu Lebediuc from this court signed an ordinance related to a sum of 300 million dollars (case no. 2p – 227/2011).
The Moldovan that “contributed” that this case reaches Comrat is Irina Cuda, with the residence written in the case, in district Comrat, village Congaz, str. Ialpug 1. Also, a copy of the ID annexed to the same case, which the judge „did not notice”, shows that she had residence visa in the sector Ciocana of the capital. The same address in Congaz was registered in the ordinance signed by the colleague of Lebediuc – Serghei Popovici, who cashed 500 million dollars including from Olena Doroftyi on November 21, 2011.
Irina Cuda is registered in another ordinance, issued by the Court Buiucani on May 3, 2013 (case 2 po-453/2013) of cashing 800 million dollars. This ordinance showed the name of the judge Ghenadie Plamadeala who said that he was not in the country in that period. In this case, Irina Cuda appears as living in Durlesti, a suburb of the capital.
Igor Vornicescu, Stefan Nita, Sergiu Gubenco and Gheorghe Marchitan – 800 million dollars
Igor Vornicescu from the Court Rascani decided on February 15 2011 to legalise a debt of 200 million dollars for „Ronida Invest LLP” in the Great Britain (case no. 2p/o-126/11). Moldovan „in debt” Veaceslav Kolenkovski from Chisinau is registered in the ordinance.
5 months later, on July 22 2011, his colleague from the Court of District Centru in the capital, Stefan Nita signed another ordinance with a sum of 200 million lei, based on some documents which were not appropriately authenticated.
Magistrate from Court Causeni, Gheorghe Marchitan, sent 200 million dollars from Russia to Great Britain on March 18, 2011 (case no. 2-626/2011).
Sergiu Gubenco from the Court in Comrat ordered on December 14, 2010 the cashing of a sum of 200 million dollars (case no. 2 p – 497/10), including from Victor Agapiev, shown as being inhabitant of village Congaz.
The case was annulled (!) on February 25, 2014 exactly when at the request of the president of the Supreme Court of Justice Mihai Poalelungi, they started to collect information about the phenomenon of “money laundering” with the help of the courts from the Republic of Moldova.
Two of these judges, Vornicescu and Marchitan quitted honorably the seat of judge.
Currently, the former judge from Rascani, who in April 2009 investigated the youth in police commissariats and ignored signs of torture, is lawyer.
„I do not remember the ordinances from 2011. How many years have passed. What is the problem if the decision was taken based on children, it was important that they are authenticated”, commented Vornicescu on the decision taken 4 years ago. Some documents annexed to the case investigated by Vornicescu are in English; they are not translated or authenticated (!).
We could not find Gheorghe Marchitan. Former judge retired some months later after the ordinance on money laundering was issued and other ordinance in 2011, when two shareholders from BEM were deprived of their 16,5% of shares.
Sergiu Gubenco and Stefan Nita still do justice in the name of goddess Themis.
The Superior Council of Magistrate proposed Nita for appointing him as judge at the Court of Appeal in Chisinau, though he acquitted in the court Gheorghe Papuc and Vladimir Botnari in the case on the events from April 7, 2009.
Gubenco was reinstated this year in the seat of judge at the Court of Appeal Comrat after in December 2014 and April 2015, President Nicolae Timofti rejected two times the proposal of CSM to this effect. At the insistence of the Council, the head of the state was forced to accept the appointment last week.
Three “ghost” cases
The Supreme Court of Justice has previously identified the existence of 3 ordinances related to high sums of money from the Russian Federation- 2 were issued by the Court Ciocana, amounted at 873 million and 780 million dollars respectively, (cases no. 2 po-7097/2013 and 2 po-943/2013), and an ordinance from the Court Drochia that stipulates the legalization of a sum of 815 million dollars (case no. 2po – 1850/2013).
These are not registered in the data bases of the afore-mentioned courts
„We know that there was such a case. CSJ informed us, but after investigation we stated that the judge who issued the ordinance, Mr. Vitalie Zaporojan, who is the president of the court, has never investigated this case. He offered explanations. I do not know further evolution”, said Svetlana Lenta, secretary of the Court Drochia.
Zaporojan is on a sickness leave.
„Real system of money laundering”
Though, the judges involved in the scheme of “money laundering” defend themselves and say that “it is not about money laundering in these cases”, the Judiciary Inspection concluded last year that “through the courts, the state the Republic of Moldova was a real system of money laundering and the justice from the Republic of Moldova was seriously affected by corruption and total irresponsibility”.
„Thus, with the help of the judiciary, in interconnection with the banking system, a sum of 18 million dollars was laundered through the Republic of Moldova”, is the conclusion of the Judiciary Inspection.
Dumitru Visternicean, member of the Superior Council of Magistrate:
„All of us were shocked when we discussed these cases at the meeting of CSM. We were ready to take urgent measures to stop such situations. We did not start disciplinary procedures against judges as we were sure that a criminal case will be opened on this case and the guilty judges will be punished. Nothing happened.
I have never seen that cases in procedure of ordinance are examined in cross border legal cases. That means lack of sides in the trial. These cases had to be examined in general procedure, to see if they meet international treaties, rogatory commission had to be organized”.
Mihai Poalelungi, president of the Supreme Court of Justice:
„I requested a generalization of all these cases, as there were many doubts. It is about a legalized sum of 18 billion dollars. We found out about these cases too late, the judges involved could not be punished because the mandate for sanctioning judges for disciplinary violations expired. Now, the General Prosecutor’s office should solve it”.
Vasile Sarco, head of the Service of Money Laundering Prevention and Combat within the National Anti-corruption Center:
„The Anticorruption Prosecution is investigating this case. Currently, nobody can say that the money from the Russian Federation is dirty cash. Yet, our colleagues from Russia have not confirmed it, they did not answer to our requests about the origin of money. Given this lack of information, there is no reason to consider the transactions as money laundering. We knew about these transactions. Thanks to the Service, this crime was investigated. I cannot tell you other information; we are in process of investigations”.
Russian press writes about „Moldovan scheme”
The businessman from Saint Petersburg Alexandr Grigoriev was arrested on October 30 current year for „large swindling”. „Commersant” from Moscow writes with reference to operative data that Grigoriev is one of the leaders of the criminal group from the Russian Federation involved in operations of cashing money. This criminal group covered 500 people and 60 Russian banks.
A sum of over 46 billion dollars was taken from the Russian Federation with the help of these banks. To take money from Russia, the group of Grigoriev used fictive schemes with the participation of some banks from the Republic of Moldova, Lithuania and Estonia.
In the Republic of Moldova, the money from Russia was transferred to „Moldindconbank” that is controlled by Veaceslav Platon, called „raider no. 1 in the Republic of Moldova”.
This investigation is carried out within the Project „Shining a Light on Corruption in Moldova” carried out by the Center for investigative Journalism and Freedom House, with the financial support of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom.