Fugitive oligarch Ilan Shor has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for his key role in the Grand Theft of one billion US dollars from the Moldovan banking system between 2012 and 2014.
The theft led to chaos throughout Moldova’s banking system. The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) suspended financial aid to the country in 2014, and the EU froze funding for the country until a new government was formed.
The theft was a devasting blow for the country. Moldova’s domestic product is only US$8 billion, with an average wage of $200 per month.
The Chisinau Court of Appeal sentenced fugitive oligarch Shor to 15 years in prison in absentia. Shor has denied any wrongdoing.
“My team and I are fighting for justice for people and for a better life for citizens. No [court] decision will stop me. I will go all the way,” he said of the verdict.
Shor is currently in hiding in Israel, where he fled to in June 2019 after Vladimir Plahotniuc lost power in Moldova and was also forced to flee.
Moldova is unable to automatically enforce the sentence passed down on Shor, as Shor also holds an Israeli citizenship. Moldova does not have an extradition treaty with Israel.
Shor was sentenced in the first instance in June 2017 to seven and a half years in prison. He can only appeal the latest sentence in the Moldovan Supreme Court.
The head of the Anticorruption Prosecutor’s Office, Veronica Dragalin, said Interpol would be able to implement the arrest warrant created by Moldova if Shor is found travelling to countries outside of Israel.
“The authorities in Israel will possibly recognise the sentence, so the sentence can also be executed in Israel. This is an option,” Dragalin explained.
President Maia Sandu declared after the verdict that the law must “must prevail,” calling on magistrates to speed up justice processes after dragging out major corruption cases in recent years.
“This is the only way justice can gain legitimacy, through legal decisions that punish thieves and do justice,” Sandu said.
The Chisinau Court of Appeal also called for the seizure of assets worth a total of five billion Moldovan lei, the equivalent of some 250 million euros, that belong to Shor or his intermediaries.
“It is a rather late decision but a correct one. Apart from the jail sentence, the confiscation of property was also ordered, about 5 billion lei was seized, and all these properties will pass into state property. Therefore, it will make an important contribution to the state budget,” parliamentary deputy Andrian Cheptonar told local media.
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