US blocks assets of Moldovan oligarchs and Russian agent

US blocks assets of Moldovan oligarchs and Russian agent
/ bne IntelliNews
By Iulian Ernst in Bucharest October 27, 2022

The United States Treasury through its Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) on October 26 imposed sanctions on nine individuals including Moldovan fugitive businessmen and politicians Vlad Plahotniuc, the head of the former ruling coalition, and Ilan Shor, the visible beneficiary of the $1bn bank theft, according to Kroll Report.

While the sanctions against Plahotnuic relate to his time in power, OFAC said Shor and seven others have been involved in the Kremlin’s attempts to interfere in Moldovan politics.

Plahotniuc was designated for bribing law enforcement officials, reflecting his longstanding efforts to capture and corrupt Moldova’s judicial and law enforcement institutions while using his wealth and political influence to undermine political rivals and rule of law in the country.

A beneficiary of a large-scale 2014 money laundering scheme related to the theft of $1bn from Moldovan banks, Shor “has worked with other corrupt oligarchs and Moscow-based entities to create political unrest in Moldova and sought to undermine Moldova’s bid for EU candidate status,” OFAC’s statement reads.

From self-imposed exile in Israel, Shor has recently led mass rallies against the liberal, centre-right Party of Action and Solidarity government. 

Seven additional individuals including Igor Chayka, the Russian business partner of former president Igor Dodon’s brother, and 12 entities have been involved in the Kremlin’s attempts to interfere in Moldova’s elections, according to OFAC.

Chayka, in conjunction with Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov, allegedly developed detailed plans to undermine Moldovan president Maia Sandu and return Moldova to Russia’s sphere of influence.  

OFAC alleges that the government of Russia used Chayka’s companies as a front to funnel money to the collaborating political parties in Moldova. Some of these illicit campaign funds were earmarked for bribes and electoral fraud.

As a result of OFAC’s decision, all property and interests in the property of the designated persons that are in the United States or in the possession or control of US persons are blocked and must be reported to OFAC.

In addition, any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, individually or in the aggregate, 50% or more by one or more blocked persons are also blocked.