* Moldovan MPs are to vote on a domestic version of the US Magnitsky Act to prevent money-laundering schemes
A group of opposition deputies has drafted new legislation to combat money-laundering after the parliamentary majority voted last Thursday to pass a fiscal reform package which has sparked criticism, particularly from Moldova’s Western partners and donors, for loopholes that could allow the legalisation of criminally-acquired funds.
Moldova has suffered in recent years from the ‘grand theft’ of $1 billion from the country’s banking system, most of it in November 2014.
- Moldova was also named as a country involved in the ‘Laundromat scheme’ which laundered about $20 billion through the country’s corrupt judicial system.
- The ‘Laundromat’ is reported to have been the biggest money-laundering operation in the last decade in Eastern Europe, and involved Russian companies, offshore companies, banks from Russia, Latvia and Moldova, proxies of the secret services and organised crime figures, functioning from 2010 to 2014.
- The planned new legislation is a Moldovan version of the US Magnitsky Act, named after Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who was jailed and died in 2009 after revealing large-scale corruption involving members of the Russian government.
“The transactions [in the Laundromat scheme] involved companies registered in obscure jurisdictions and economic agents from Russia. The purpose of the bill is to create legal instruments to protect both the domestic banking and financial system from abuses,” said Liberal Democrat MP Tudor Deliu.
He added that the law will also impose restrictions on people who commit acts of corruption and human rights violations in Moldova.
“We hope that there will be no parliamentary faction in Moldova that will directly oppose the measures to prevent corruption and to hold accountable people involved in these acts of corruption and money-laundering or systematic violations of human rights,” Deliu said.
The ‘Magnitsky’ draft bill comes after ruling party deputies and their political allies in parliament voted through a fiscal reform package which includes a controversial clause saying that anyone who has undeclared income or goods can legalise them if they pay a three-per-cent tax to the state.
The package – as well as an existing law that grants Moldovan citizenship for 100,000 euros or 250,000 euros of investments – has concerned Moldova’s Western partners, including the EU, the US, the World Bank and the IMF.
Experts argue that the legislation already adopted allows ‘legitimate’ money-laundering and risks transforming Moldova into a crime haven for anybody in the world who can buy Moldovan citizenship and launder illegally-obtained income for a relatively small payment.
Legislation inspired by the Magnitsky Act has also been proposed or adopted in Britain, Canada and all three Baltic states in recent years.
The publication is not an editorial. It reflects solely the point of view and argumentation of the author. The publication is presented in the presentation. Start in the previous issue. The original is available at: balkaninsight.com