Reputed Moldovan corporate raider Veaceslav Platon was unexpectedly extradited to Moldova on the night of August 29 and is currently under arrest in Chisinau. Prosecutors are expected to renew the arrest warrant for another 30 days. His lawyers claim the extradition breached Ukraine’s regulations and was a result of a political arrangement between the two countries.
Platon is being investigated by Moldovan prosecutors for scams related to frauds at Victoriabank and Banca de Economii a Moldovei (BEM) as part of the broader investigation into $1bn frauds carried out in the country’s banking system in 2014. Once he arrived in Chisinau, Platon accused his rival, the vice-president of the senior ruling Democratic Party Vlad Plahotniuc of being the author of the financial scams for which he has been indicted.
Platon’s Moldovan lawyers accused the authorities of sending Platon to a high-security prison, which is not in line with the usual procedures for those held in pre-trial arrest. It is a way of intimidating Platon, they claimed.
Platon holds a Ukrainian passport issued in the name of Veaceslav Kobaliov and has renounced his Moldovan citizenship, his lawyers have said. Ukrainian lawyers met Platon in the evening of August 29, but their discussion was interrupted and they later found their client had been extradited, according to Ilia Novikov, the lawyer who also defended Ukrainian jet pilot Nadejda Savcenko indicted in Russia.
A court in Kyiv’s Pecerskii district endorsed on August 22 a request from Moldovan prosecutors to extradite Platon. Under the Ukrainian procedures, persons to be extradited are held under arrest for 12 months and can be sent to the country asking for the extradition at any time within this period.
Moldova’s head anticorruption prosecutor Viorel Morari said on July 27 that Platon and another businessman, Ilan Shor, were the beneficiaries of $175mn scams involving Victoriabank and BEM. According to Morari, firms controlled by Platon received $40mn and MDL124mn loans (some $140mn in total) from Victoriabank, when he apparently controlled the bank in 2011-2012. The money was then sent to offshore firms. In November 2014, loans extended by BEM to Moldovan firms Provolirom and Caritas Grup were used, through offshore firms, to repay the loans initially extended by Victoriabank in 2011-2012. BEM was controlled at that time by Shor.
Moldovan prosecutors issued an arrest warrant for Platon on July 27 and he was arrested in Kyiv the following day. However, his lawyers claim that Platon is no longer a citizen of Moldova or Russia – another country that could ask for his extradition for his involvement in the laundering of huge amounts of money.
Pravovest PR manager Ivan Nikitcenko said on August 23 that Platon is a citizen of Ukraine and therefore cannot be extradited.
On August 11, Infotag news agency reported that the Ukrainian police are investigating irregularities regarding the issue of Platon’s passport. Some documents are missing, which might invalidate the passport, sources said at that time.
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