21 Dec 2021 19:27

Moldovan Prosecutor General's Office charges fugitive businessman Plahotniuc with forgery

CHISINAU. Dec 21 (Interfax) - The Moldovan Prosecutor General's Office has brought new charges against fugitive businessman Vladimir Plahotniuc, and two of his associates have been entered into the Interpol wanted persons database.

Interpol put Constantin Botnari, a former parliamentarian belonging to Plahotniuc's entourage, on its wanted persons list. Botnari is charged with forgery and providing false information in official documents. Plahotniuc himself has been charged with the same crime.

Both Plahotniuc and Botnari are charged with conspiring to commit abuse of power and incitement to falsifying public documents in 2019. Serghei Ralean, former director of the Public Services Agency, was detained earlier in the same case. "Under Mr. Plahotniuc's instructions, the lawmaker affiliated with him used his authority to procure identity papers and foreign travel passports in violation of legal procedures for persons from Vladimir Plahotniuc's entourage," the Prosecutor General's Office said.

Said identity papers were filled in in the absence of the applicants, through forging the applications without their signatures and without fingerprinting or photographing them, it said.

As reported earlier, Plahotniuc fled Moldova after the change of government on June 14, 2019. He stayed in Miami, the United States, for some time before moving to Turkey in the summer of 2020. At present, it is widely believed that he might be staying in Northern Cyprus.

Former Moldovan Prosecutor General Alexandr Stoianoglo in May 2020 called Plahotniuc "the principal beneficiary" of the theft of $1 billion from Moldovan banks. Stoianoglo said a criminal case was opened against Plahotniuc on counts of the establishment of an organized criminal group, extortion, and massive fraud. Based on these charges, a Moldovan court issued an arrest warrant for him.