The Moldovan Communist Party (PCRM) has sold its luxury headquarters in Chisinau to an offshore company represented in Moldova by a key figure from the entourage of oligarch and politician Vladimir Plahotniuc, an investigation by RISE Moldova has revealed.
This is not the first deal bringing together the names of Plahotnuic and the PCRM’s leader, former President Vladimir Voronin, despite their opposing political views. In fact, local media and politicians have often suggested close ties between the two.
During Voronin’s presidency between 2001 and 2009, Plahotniuc was described by local media as a very influential businessman, thanks to his close ties with Oleg Voronin, the president’s son, according to Radio Free Europe. Plahotniuc’s name was also reportedly mentioned in 2008 on a list of possible prime ministers. Moldovan media have claimed that Voronin used Plahotniuc’s plane for his travels abroad and the two were seen together at a K1 match in Moscow in 2011.
The former PCRM headquarters is located in central Chisinau, close to Plahotniuc’s home. It has four floors and has been designed to house office spaces, a mini hotel, a restaurant and an underground car park.
The construction of the headquarters is surrounded by controversy. In 2006, when Voronin was president, the PCRM was reportedly given the right to use a plot of land, which was later privatised for less than MDL1mn (€46,850) based on a decision by the Chisinau City Council.
In 2009, the State Chancellery challenged the decision in court. The authorities seized both the plot of land and the party’s headquarters built on it. This prevented the PCRM from selling the property. The seizure was lifted on December 22 and the building was sold to Constar Invest earlier this month.
The sale of the luxury building was confirmed by Communist MP Oleg Reidman, who said the building was sold “to the person who financed its construction”, without offering additional details.
According to RISE Moldova’s investigation, the real beneficiary of the PCRM headquarters is offshore. The investigative journalism project claims Constar Invest is owned by Jarrow Business, a Belize offshore company represented in Moldova by Serghei Noscov, a key figure in managing businesses controlled by Plahotniuc, such as Nobil hotel.
Noscov was also mentioned in the leaked Panama Papers as being the representative of an offshore company with a majority stake in NIT TV television station, according to a previous report by RISE Moldova. The license of NIT TV was withdrawn in 2012 for openly promoting the PCRM.
Meanwhile, Constar Invest is administered by Serghei Dasevskii, who has received a four-year suspended sentence for extortion and as well as being arrested for possession of drugs.
Plahotniuc is the coordinator of Moldova’s pro-EU ruling coalition, an aggregation of parties and MPs, including some whom defected from the PCRM to join the government. Plahotniuc negotiated the majority in the highly fragmented parliament that resulted from the November 2014 parliamentary elections. The coalition was formed in January 2016 after more than a year of political crisis, and has very little support from the population.
Corruption is one of the major issues in Moldova. The country was ranked 123rd in the 2016 Corruption Perceptions Index released by Transparency International on January 25. The country had a score of 30 out of 100, where 100 stands for the best performance. This represented a decline since 2015, when it had a score of 33, down from 35 in 2014.
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