Several criminal cases, which resulted in carrying out searches and arresting current and former officials and politicians, were initiated in 2016. Following these arrests, the isolator of the National Anticorruption Center turned out to be too small. Most of the criminal cases initiated in 2016 were on corruption. Some have qualified the cases as political ones, some were arrested and some others are waiting for sentencing.
Detaining the customs officers
It is well known the fact that corruption is a thing among customs employees and 2016 proved it again.
On September 30th, the NAC and the Anticorruption Prosecutor’s Office conducted several searches at Tudora and Palanca customs posts, but also at the customs officers’ residencies. Following the searches, 28 customs employees were arrested and 16 of them were dismissed from service.
30 customs officers were detained in early November, following the searches at the customs posts Sculeni and Leușeni. The searches were carried out in a criminal case based on suspicions of corruption.
The law enforcement authorities carried out searches at Sculeni customs post during the last month of this year. As a result, 14 customs officers were detained and 11 of them received arrest warrants.
Patrol agents detained for bribery
28 police officers from the National Patrol Inspectorate were detained on the 25th of October of this year, for committing passive corruption. The policemen were detained during a meeting at the Ministry of Interior. The patrol inspectors have extorted and received from drivers, amounts between 100 lei and 1000 USD, to avoid filing the minutes for committing various offenses.
14 criminal cases of the 28 patrol officers detained, were sent to trial on December 12th.
The "Russian laundry"
Several victims are concerned with the criminal case on laundering of over 20 billion US dollars from Russia. 15 judges and three court officers, suspected of involvement in this criminal scheme, were detained in September and placed under arrest. In the meanwhile, one of the judges died of health problems.
The judges and the bailiffs are accused of complicity in money laundering by having issued false closures and ordinances.
Corruption at the City Hall
5 Mayoralty officials and two intermediaries were detained on May 5th of this year, following the searches conducted by the NAC. They were suspected of passive corruption, influence peddling, abuse of office and forgery of public documents.
The deputy mayor Vlad Coteț, the deputy head of Architecture and Urban Planning Directorate, Radu Blaj, the vice praetor of Botanica Sector, Boris Prepeliță, two employees of the State Inspection in Construction and two entrepreneurs, were among the people detained.
Other 3 officials of the City Hall were targeted by the NAC during this year, in 2 criminal cases. It is about the Deputy Mayor Nistor Grozavu, the chief architect Ivan Carpov and the secretary of Chisinau Municipal Council, Valeriu Didencu. The three officials are prosecuted for allegedly extending the authorization to build a multistoried building in a park from the city, while Carpov is investigated for conflict of interest also.
Platon’s extradition and arrest
The Anticorruption Prosecutor’s Office initiated a criminal case on the name of the controversial businessman, Veaceslav Platon, in July of this year. They made progress in this criminal case and Platon’s detention and extradition from Ukraine followed, but also placing him under arrest and dozens of court hearings. The businessman has described the case as political.
Platon is investigated in BEM case for receiving bad loans worth 800 million lei. He faces up to 15 years in prison.
Reopening the criminal investigation against Usatîi
2016 was less favorable for Renato Usatii than 2015, when he was elected the mayor of Balti. Usatîi received and arrest warrant after reopening the criminal investigation against him, in a case where he is accused of murder attempt of the Russian banker Gherman Gorbunțov. Although he claims that the suspect in this criminal case must be Plahotniuc, Usatîi left Moldova and the Balti mayor seat, fleeing to Moscow.
The arrest warrant was issued on the 24th of October by the Center Sector Court from Chisinau, for a period of 30 days. A mandate for international search on his name, was issued the same day.
Usatîi's case is still pending, while his lawyers are asking for cancelation of the arrest warrant measure. And ABP was issued on his name, although he is always in the public eye and does not hide his location.
Just like Platon, Usatîi together with his followers consider resuming the criminal investigation against him a political retaliation.
Closing down the casinos
The new leader of the Democratic Party, Vlad Plahotniuc made public a promise, this year, on closing down the gambling halls. Since its very easy to keep your promises when you control the law enforcement agencies, shortly, 159 casinos stopped their activity.
Five employees of the Licensing Chamber were detained in the same criminal case, being suspected of fraud when issuing or extending the licenses for gambling activities, which caused a damage of 15 million lei to the state budget.
Vlad Filat's conviction
The former Prime Minister of Moldova, Vlad Filat, will certainly remember the year of 2016. This is because the former premier was sentenced to nine years in prison in the billion lei case. Sentencing Vlad Filat was significant not only for 2016 but also for the entire history of the Republic of Moldova.
The former Prime Minister was found guilty of 64 episodes for receiving illegal remuneration from the businessman Ilan Shor, who is also under criminal investigation and arrested.
Filat was convicted by Buiucani Court on June 27th, 2016, and subsequently the Chisinau Court of Appeal upheld the sentence. The defenders are relying on a modification of sentence, if the case will reach the ECHR.
Rigged auctions and altered food
This year ended with a scandal about providing with food the schools and kindergartens from the capital city. It was found that the food was of very poor quality and even altered. Following the scandal, 17 people received preventive arrest warrants, including commercial agents and officials of education departments from the capital. Also, following the scandal, several officials were suspended from their positions.
The presidential election at the end of this year resulted in initiating some criminal cases. Many citizens of the country who could not exercise their constitutional right to vote, have complained about insufficient ballots at the polling stations abroad. However, their complaints were declared unfounded during the court hearings.
During this year, some other criminal cases were initiated or resumed, targeting public officials such as the Internal Protection and Anticorruption Service employees, educational institutions, the government and its subordinate institutions, the Department of Penitentiary Institutions, lawyers, judges, policemen etc. Most criminal cases have been initiated for corruption.