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Moldova's "Theft of the Century" - ostensible investigations or sincere lust for justice?

Moldaus "Diebstahl des Jahrhunderts" - vorgetäuschte Ermittlungen oder aufrichtige Sehnsucht nach Gerechtigkeit

15.06.2021
EU-Moldova

This study presents a summary of the most high-profile financial crime in Moldova’s history and examines the context as well as the progress in investigations. Furthermore, as this crime bears transnational implications, the study analyses the role of the EU and the involved Member States in identifying and recovering the stolen funds.

In a changing political context in the country, a window of opportunity emerges for strengthening EU-Moldova relations, as well as for the advancement of anti-corruption reforms and the de-oligarchisation of Moldova's key institutions. After the change in leadership, a thorough investigation into the $1 billion theft, which includes accountability of those responsible and putting in place of recovery mechanisms, has been prioritised within the General Prosecutor’s Office and the Supreme Security Council.

The theft caused the country enormous reputational damage and resulted in growing skepticism within a society deeply affected economically and politically. In order to restore the citizens’ trust in state institutions, it is important for Moldova to advance its investigations and bring those responsible to justice. Yet this fraud was conducted internationally and an important part of the stolen funds was traced to EU jurisdictions, making cooperation imperative.

During the last period, the rule of law in the Republic of Moldova has been closely monitored by the EU. In a European Parliament report on the implementation of the EU Association Agreement with the Republic of Moldova dated 28 September 2020, concerns about the lack of progress in prosecuting those responsible for the 2014 bank fraud were raised. Likewise, in a statement from October 2020 by the EU-Moldova Parliamentary Association Committee, the importance of the acceleration of the prosecution process and the recovery of misappropriated funds were underlined. At the same time, the Committee highlighted the importance of the EU Member States’ support in investigations for Moldova.

On 2 June 2021, the European Commission announced an Economic Recovery Plan for the Republic of Moldova, amounting up to €600 million of financial support. The Economic Recovery Plan is subject to strict conditionality, of which the progress on the investigation of the banking scandal is a crucial element.

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