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Moldova Detains Two MPs for Taking Bribes from Fugitive Oligarch

The Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office on Thursday detained MPs Alexandr Nesterovschi and Irina Lozavan, former members of the Bloc of Socialists and Communists, for bribe-taking and money-laundering on behalf of a criminal group led by the fugitive Moldovan oligarch Ilan Shor.

Shor allegedly bribed the two MPs to do his bidding as representatives of an ostensibly pro-European political party, the Renasterea (Rebirth) Party.

Shor is currently a fugitive from Moldovan justice in Israel after being convicted in April this year of involvement in the so-called ‘Grand Theft’ case, in which $1 billion vanished from three Moldovan banks between 2012 and 2014.

In March 2023, Nesterovschi announced that she was leaving the Socialist Party to join the Rebirth Party, which prosecutors claim is de facto led from the shadows by Shor. Lozovan later became a member of the Rebirth Party too.

“There is reasonable suspicion that deputy Nesterovschi accepted a sum of money and a salary of $5,000 per month to leave the faction he belonged to in order to form a new faction [led by the Rebirth Party] in parliament, which requires five deputies,” said the head of the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office, Veronica Dragalin.

She said that Nesterovschi sought to recruit Lozovan as part of plans for him to lead a supposedly pro-European party that would act on Shor’s behalf.

“Someone denounced this and cooperated with the criminal investigative body. We documented how Nesterovschi sent a paper package with $50,000 dollars in cash and 100,000 lei to this former deputy [Lozovan] to convince this person to create a political party, to carry out the instructions of Ilan Shor,” she said.

According to the General Prosecutor’s Office, an “organised criminal group” led by Shor initiated the illegal financing of the Rebirth Party.

Both Nesterovschi and Lozavan have been remanded in custody for 72 hours.

The Rebirth Party hit back at the allegations.

“Today in Moldova, there is a repressive campaign against a real opposition force, the Rebirth Party,” said the interim president of the party, Natalia Parasca.

She said the Rebirth Party considers searches of party leaders’ and local activists’ properties as “pressure and aggression against opposition forces”.

“We will not be intimidated, and we will not give in! We are calling on the human rights community and interested citizens to join the Rebirth Party to work for the good of Moldova and rid the country of [Prime Minister Maia] Sandu’s regime,” said Parasca.

On Thursday evening, parliament approved the lifting of Nesterovschi and Lozavan’s parliamentary immunity so they could be arrested and their cases sent for trial.

The prosecutors’ move comes before local elections in November. The Moldovan authorities have been tracking potential wrongdoing after the Shor Party, led by the fugitive oligarch, was declared unconstitutional and outlawed.

Shor has strong ties with Moscow and is under sanction by the US and the EU.

Prosecutors are also overseeing a case of alleged electoral bribery involving Shor in the May elections for the post of governor of the pro-Russian autonomous region of Gagauzia in the south of the country.

The elections in Gagauzia were won by Evghenia Gutul, a close friend of Shor, who appeared with her via video link during the campaign, although she officially ran as an independent candidate.

Source : BalkanInsight