The Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ) in Moldova has rejected an appeal from the lawyer of the former democratic leader, Vlad Plahotniuc, to move the hearing for the seizure of Plahotniuc's assets to another court of equal rank.
The hearing was scheduled to take place at the Chisinau Court of Appeal, but Plahotniuc's defense lawyer, Lucian Rogac, argued that there were events happening at the court that cast doubt on the impartiality of the judges. The defense also claimed that the court did not issue a reasoned decision regarding their request to lift the exception of the unconstitutionality of the provisions of Article 312 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
However, the criminal panel of the CSJ determined that these reasons were not enough to justify the displacement of the case. The panel stated that the reasons expressed by the defense attorney were merely declarative and attempted to criticize the professional training of the judges, rather than falling under the institution of transferring the trial of a criminal case to another court. The judges noted that they were independent and only obeyed the law, as stated by Article 26 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
Anti-corruption prosecutors in Moldova seized assets belonging to former Democratic Party leader, Vladimir Plahotniuc, worth 55 million lei on October 30, 2019. This seizure was aimed at avoiding the misappropriation of funds during the criminal investigation and included bank accounts held at Victoriabank containing funds worth 15,275,000 lei, funds in the amount of 278,090 euros, 100% of the share capital of two companies (Bb-Dialysis and Bass-Systems), worth 34,776,322 lei and a share of GMG Production worth 10,800,000 lei.
The day before, Plahotniuc was announced as an international and inter-state wanted by the National Anticorruption Center after failing to comply with summons issued by anti-corruption prosecutors.
On May 22, 2020, 10 of Plahotniuc's properties worth over 33 million lei were seized by the Chisinau Court, but the court rejected seizure actions for assets worth 7.7 million euros owned by Plahotniuc outside of Moldova. In August 18, 2022, a building in the French city of Sciez worth more than 4.2 million euros was ordered seized by the Judicial Court of Thonon-les-Bains, France, following a request from the Prosecutor's Office for Combating Crime Organized and Special Causes.
Plahotniuc, who is being investigated in absentia for fraud and leading a criminal organization, is believed to be in Northern Cyprus and extradition discussions are difficult because the region is not under the control of Cyprus, according to the Minister of Justice, Sergiu Litvinenco.