“Plahostan”: A Criminal Organization Controlled Moldova for 10 Years

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RISE Moldova journalists presented the investigative project “Plahostan” based on copies of dozens of different court decisions and materials of prosecutors’ indictments. After the banking scandal, the international press increasingly referred to Moldova as a “captured state”. The law enforcement agencies also began to study the system of “captured state” or “Plahostan”. One of the noteworthy processes is the criminal investigation initiated in 2020 by the Prosecutor’s Office for Combating Organized Crime and Special Cases. The process is designated as the “Plahotniuc’s OCG” case. Thousands of pages reveal how the system of the “captured state” of the fugitive oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc was arranged, rise.md reports On May 22, 2020, the judge of the Chisinau sector of Cecani, Elena Costiuc, decides to apply a measure of restraint in absentia in the form of preliminary detention against Plahotniuc Vladimir Gheorghievici. The decision is taken in the absence of the defendant. According to the investigation, Vladimir Plahotniuc, starting from about 2009 until 2019, attracted several representatives of the criminal and business environment to his side and founded a criminal organization. As the prosecutor explains in the reasoning of the preliminary arrest “For the entire period of existence of this criminal community, until June 14, 2019, when Plahotniuc Vladimir fled the country, its structure was repeatedly changed, both personally by the head of the organization, and depending on the specific situation created within the organization, with an emphasis on conspiracy of devised criminal schemes, evolution of the political situation in the country, as well as intentions to legalize the criminal gains.” Among the types of crimes listed are: – theft of financial resources from the banking system of the Republic of Moldova and their laundering; – seizure of other people’s businesses; – creation and control of economic monopolies in various spheres of interest; – fraud; – blackmail. According to the investigation, among the main instructions given by Vladimir Plahotniuc to the leaders of criminal groups were: – planning and preparation of committing crimes related to providing for the activities of the criminal organization; – coordination and management of the structural units, members of the criminal community carrying out illegal activities on the territory of the European Union, Ukraine, Russian Federation, United States of America, United Arab Emirates and other countries, through authorized persons, through electronic means of communication and personal meetings; – control over the administrative institutions of the country by ensuring the appointment to key functions of controlled and trustworthy individuals from their entourage in the interests of the criminal organization; – providing a political cloak by financing a political party and involving it in the process of governing the country; – seizure of businesses of individuals and legal entities of the Republic of Moldova in order to ensure material well-being, both their own and that of members of the criminal organization; – creation and control of economic monopolies in various spheres of interests, both legal and illegal, generating profits on a particularly large scale; and others. According to the investigation, Plahotniuc, “intending to give the appearance of legality to his actions and publicly showing himself as a coordinator of economic and social processes in the country, as well as imitating distancing from direct activity of the criminal organization, the leader of which he is, in 2010 joined the political party of Moldova, thanks to which he was elected a member of the 19th Parliament of Moldova, thus becoming a public figure.” In these circumstances he was no longer openly involved in the criminal activity of the criminal organization, but used the services of persons from the coordinated group (people who established certain family ties, confidants), who gradually progressed from the position of executors to persons with coordinating duties, especially in relation to the administrative aspect of the country.