DOC// Wants the million. One of the judges from the Russian Laundromat, Sergiu Lebediuc, insists on recovering his salarie

Viorica Mija
Colaj CIJM

Sergiu Lebediuc, one of the five magistrates reinstated after being criminally prosecuted in the Laundromat case, appealed to the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ) the decision of the appeal court which overturned the decision by which he was to collect almost one million lei in damages materials from the state, for the period of suspension from office. The Center for Investigative Journalism (CIJM) uncovered the schemes through which, in the period 2011-2014, more than three billion dollars, black money originating from the Russian Federation, were legalized. also described the way in which Lebediuc issued an order to collect a debt in the amount of 300 million dollars. Absolved of guilt for money laundering, the magistrate is currently on trial for knowingly pronouncing a decision contrary to the law on this episode of the Russian Laundry file.

The magistrates of the trial court admitted, in March 2023, the request of Sergiu Lebediuc, who awarded his salary payments for the period of his suspension from office, namely September 20, 2016 - October 27, 2020. Thus, the state was to pay the magistrate a material damage of 998,043.17 lei, caused by the "illegal actions of the criminal investigation bodies, the prosecutor's office and the courts", a solution disputed by the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Finance.

In the solution handed down, the Court of Appeal found that Lebediuc was removed from criminal prosecution based on an order dated September 29, 2020, issued by the prosecutor in the Anticorruption Prosecutor's Office, Mirandolina Suşiţcaia, who is currently suspended. He was removed from criminal prosecution only in the case initiated according to the elements of the crime provided for by complicity in money laundering. However, in the case of accusations based on art. 307 of the Criminal Code - knowingly pronouncing by the judge of a decision, sentences, decisions, or conclusions contrary to the law, there is no act of disposition by which innocence would have been established. At the moment, the case is before the court of appeal, after Lebediuc was found guilty in 2021 but acquitted of criminal liability due to the expiration of the statute of limitations. When it reached the Court of Appeal in September 2022, only four hearings were scheduled, of which three were postponed and one was interrupted. With a break of half a year, the examination of the case will be resumed in June 2024.

The criminal case involving Serghei Lebediuc, who along with 14 other judges was accused of involvement in the laundering of approximately 18 billion dollars from the Russian Federation through the judicial system of the Republic of Moldova, was sent to trial in February 2017. The defendants were accused of money laundering in particularly large proportions and knowingly pronouncing a decision contrary to the law, resulting in serious consequences. Later, the cases were disjointed, and in September 2020, prosecutor Mirandolina Sușițcaia issued an order removing several former judges, including Serghei Lebediuc, from criminal prosecution in the disjointed case in which he was prosecuted for money laundering in particularly large proportions.

In October 2020, the Superior Council of the Magistracy granted the requests of the five magistrates in the Laundromat file to be reinstated.

The Center for Investigative Journalism described in an investigation the circumstances under which judges issued debt collection orders. The schemes used by criminals for money laundering were always the same – some offshore companies from Great Britain, New Zealand, Belize, the Russian Federation, and a citizen of the Republic of Moldova was involved as guarantor. This is how these cases ended up being examined by Moldovan judges who issued orders based on photocopies of documents, issued by foreign authorities, without authentication, as required by law, and practically only a part of the photocopy of t identity card of the citizen of the Republic of Moldova was attached to each file, missing the part where the person's domicile was indicated. Not knowing the exact domicile of the citizen of the Republic of Moldova, the judges nevertheless accepted the cases for examination and issued orders for the collection of the sums requested by the plaintiffs.

On August 18, 2011, Sergiu Lebediuc signed an ordinance concerning the amount of 300 million dollars (file no. 2p – 227/2011). The Moldovan individual to whom this file was attributed in Comrat is Irina Cuda, whose address is listed in the file as being in the Comrat district, Congaz village, Ialpug street 1. However, a copy of the identity card attached to the same file, which the judge seemingly overlooked, indicates that she had a residence permit in the Ciocana sector of the capital.

Viorica Mija

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