Moldova: UK Court Seizes Moldovan ex-PM’s Son's Fortune

A London court has forfeited frozen bank accounts containing half a million pounds, belonging to the former prime minister of Moldova’s son, after investigators decided the cash came from his father’s corrupt activities.

A London judge has ordered the forfeiture of three frozen bank accounts belonging to the 22-year-old son of Moldova’s former prime minister, Vlad Filat, who was jailed for corruption in 2016. The bank accounts were frozen in May last year after an investigation by Britain’s National Crime Agency ruled that the money derived from his father’s illegal activities, a press release from the NCA on Thursday said.



Filat is serving a nine-year prison sentence after courts in Moldova convicted him in June 2016 of playing a role in the disappearance of 1 billion US dollars from the banking system. The missing money was equivalent to an eighth of the ex-Soviet republic’s entire annual GDP. Bank records showed Vlad Luca Filat’s accounts and living expenses were funded by huge deposits from overseas companies, mainly based in Turkey and the Cayman Islands. Multiple cash deposits were also identified across the UK. He had spent over 100,000 euros in only three days.

The former Moldovan PM’s son ostensibly moved to the UK in 2016 to study. But his lavish lifestyle stirred suspicions among financial investigators. He had spent vast sums of money on luxury goods and services, including a Bentley limousine costing 200,000 pounds sterling, bought from a showroom in London’s upscale Mayfair area. He had also spent almost 400,000 pounds on renting a penthouse in London’s equally exclusive Knightsbridge area – about 1,000 pounds a day.

The London court ordered the forfeiture of three frozen accounts on Tuesday.
“Vlad Luca Filat was unable to demonstrate a legitimate source for the money and the court determined it to be recoverable,” Rob MacArthur, from the NCA’s International Corruption Unit, said.

Moldova experienced political and economic turmoil after the disappearance of more than $1 billion from three major Moldovan banks — Banca de Economii, Banca Sociala, and Unibank. Deemed the greatest theft in the former Soviet country’s history, the international aid money disappeared between 2012 and 2014.

The affair lead to Filat’s arrest and trial, but also to the collapse of the national currency and triggered street protests and international aid freezes. Filat’s government was ousted in March 2013 following a no-confidence vote.

After fierce criticism of the amount of so-called dirty money being invested or laundered in London and the UK – especially from Russia – Britain has toughened its approach.

In December, the government’s Financial Action Task Force proclaimed the UK a world leader in combatting illicit finance.

“We will continue to improve our defences and work with our international partners to find, disrupt, and prosecute anyone dealing in illicit money,” City Minister John Glen said then.

7 February 2019

Balkan Insight

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