Moldova: 20 Judges, Court Officials Accused in Huge Money-Laundering Scheme

Sixteen judges and four court bailiffs have been accused by Moldovan anti-corruption prosecutors of involvement in the notorious Russian Laundromat, a massive money-laundering scheme that siphoned an estimated US$ 20 billion in dirty money from Russia into the European Union and other locations.

laundromat1Prosecutors in Chisinau said that 17 of the accused were arrested on Tuesday and one additional suspect on Wednesday. One of the judges, who has been living abroad for some time, has not been apprehended, while one of the bailiffs cannot be located.

Reporters for OCCRP and its partners, RISE Project in Romania and RISE Moldova, revealed that between 2010 and early 2014, organized criminals and corrupt politicians in Russia moved billions of dollars through dozens of offshore companies, banks, fake loans, and proxy agents. The process was then certified as “clean” by judges in Moldova and the clean funds dispersed across Europe and other locations.

Vasile Sarco, the head of the Money Laundering Prevention Unit in Moldova, told OCCRP in August of 2014 that the investigation was ongoing and said, "Many judges and executors may go to prison.”

The Laundromat worked like this: “Company A” in an offshore jurisdiction arranged a fake loan to “Company B”; the loan was guaranteed by a Russian company and a Moldovan citizen. When the loan was not repaid, a Moldovan court would rule that the Russian company was liable for the amount, and that amount of dirty money would be paid into an account at a Moldovan bank.

The money, now legally clean, would then be transferred to banks in Latvia, from whence it could go anywhere.

This week’s arrests follow that of Moldovan businessman Veaceslav Platon, who was arrested in Ukraine last July in connection with the Russian Laundromat and also the theft of $ 1 billion from three Moldovan banks, discovered in 2014.