False witnesses in Vlad Filat’s case
Three women from the Russian Federation, who seem not to know about the situation in Moldova, appear as key-witnesses in the resounding corruption case involving Vlad Filat. According to statements made by Ilan Sor in court, they would have brokered alleged bribery worth 320 million lei to former Prime Minister. These statements were accepted by the court and included in the sentence without inviting the youths for evidence. Center for Investigative Journalism found the names of these girls and contacted two of them. The girls claim that they have never beento Moldova and do not know Ilan Sor and Vlad Filat.
Irina’s account worth millions at Unibank
Irina Alexandrova is an ordinary girl from Moscow. According to socialisation sites, the 27 year old girl is fond of photos and cats. He works in a bank in the capital of Russia, goes out with friends and she loves cooking. In Chisinau, Irina's name appears in one of the most sensational criminal cases in Moldova's history. The businessman Ilan Shor reported that he would have sent to Vlad Filat with the help of Irina Alexandrova, a part of the bribe of 320 million lei, money that would have been asked by former prime minister for various services.
Reporters of the Center for Investigative Journalism obtained two orders of issuing cash, which show that in spring and summer of 2014, Irina Alexandrova withdrew 850,000 euros from a subsidiary of Unibank in Chisinau. According to the first bank document, on March 5, 2014, Irina withdrew from her account at Unibank 150,000 euros (2.8 million lei), and on August 4, 2014, she withdrew from her account 699 300 euros (13 million lei). Subsequently, this money wastransmitted to Vlad Filat.
„I have never been to Moldova ”
I contacted Irina by phone to learn more about her involvement in the corruption case in Chisinau. She replied immediately, but asked us to call her back in the evening, when she finishes work. "I am at work and I cannot talk. Can you call me back later? After 19.00, please", Irina told us kindly. Later, the young girl blocked all calls of CIJM reporter and did not answer to any other calls from other phone numbers in Moldova. In a phone recording that came into our possession, Irina claims that she does not know Ilan Shor and Vlad Filat and she has never been to Moldova. "I do not know any local banks or citizens of Moldova. I have never visited Moldova", says the girl.
Fragment of phone conversations with Irina Alexandrova
The same operator withdrew money from Unibank on March and August 2014. Vlad Filat's defenders suspect that signatures on bank documents issued on behalf of Irina Alexandrova and of other two citizens were forged. "There are sufficient grounds to assume that these signatures are forged. We will request a handwriting analysis. To this effect, we must collect signatures from these people in the Russian Federation. This can be done through a rogatory letter sent to the Russian Federation ", said lawyer Igor Popa.
„Ilan Shor? A singer?”
Alina Papikyan is the youngest of the "accomplices" invoked by Ilan Shor. She is 26 years old and lives in Moscow. I contacted her by phone to discuss about the criminal case. "I've never been to Moldova. Ilan Shor? Is he a singer? ", asked the girl. After I explained that her name appears in a criminal case, stating that she sent bribes worth several million dollars to former Prime Minister Vlad Filat, Alina said "Is it a nightmare? I do not remember talking to anyone about this case. I do not remember, maybe I sent my documents to someone, but I often lost my documents. Which bank accounts in Moldova? I save money. What you say, is fantasy", said Alina Papikyan, worried that she might have problems because of this story involving her that happened behind her back.
Phone conversation between the CIJM reporter and Alina Papikyan, girl from Moscow who appears as intermediary in the transactions between Ilan Shor and Vlad Filat
The last alleged accomplice of Ilan Shor in transmitting money to Vlad Filat is Larisa Noscova from town Tveri, Russian Federation. Larisa, 38 years old, seems not to be involved in the banking system. The girl provides services of eyebrow styling and tattooing. I wrote on a social network to ask her if she knows Ilan Shor and Vlad Filat and if she ever sent money to former Moldovan PM. Larisa did not reply.
“Censored” witnesses in the sentence
The names of threegirls from Russia appear in the justified sentence in Filat’s case, published truncated by Buiucani Court. The court decision refers to the fact that Ilan Shor would have sent to Vlad Filat through Irina Alexandrova, Larisa Noscova and Alina Papikyan, 320 941 414 lei. Every time, these sums of money came into Vlad Filat’s possession after this money was withdrawn to these girls from the accounts which they owned at Unibank.
"The amount of 500,000 euros, withdrawn on 20.5.2014 from the account of XXXXX, at the request of XXXXX, which under the exchange rate of NBM in local currency is 9.440.000 MDL", reads the document. According to court, this is the scheme by which citizens from Russia came into possession of the money which was sent to Vlad Filat.
In all, under the court decision, in the period May 17-December 12, 2014, these 3 girls from the Russian Federation went 34 times to the bank to withdraw the money. The sentence refers to the sum of money which was transmitted by Irina Alexandrova on August 4, 2014.
The sentence was dictated in the absence of hearing by judges of any of these 3 girls. Buiucani judges rejected the request of lawyers for bringing these witnesses in court.
Orders to cash release in the name of IrinaAlexandrova, Larisa Noscova and Alina Papikyan, mentioned in Buiucani Court judgment of June 27, 2016
Fake bank documents?
Center for Investigative Journalism sent a request to Border Police to find out if the three women from the Russian Federation visited the Republic of Moldova in the past 5 years. By publishing the article, we did not receive a reply from the institution. A similar request was sent to the court. The lawyer of former Prime Minister Vlad Filat, Igor Popa says that in the reply from border police, magistrates announced that these persons have not crossed the check points controlled by the Moldovan Official authorities in the period November 2011 -to present.
"Since they did not come to Moldova in the period concerned, it is obvious that the documents signed by the girls at a bank in the Republic of Moldova are false and money could be indicated in bank documents and not actually withdrawn. Statements made by Ilan Shor at the prosecution stage and at court will be examined in terms of false declarations, and by refusing to submit the statements to the Court of Appeal, he denies his contribution to the discovery of the crime. These statements cannot constitute the basis of a decision of conviction, but rather a decision of acquittal ", said VladFilat's lawyer.
Requested to comment on this situation, the lawyer Veaceslav Turcan pointed that if in a case, a witness says that he sent bribes through third parties, the investigative body is obliged to question all persons involved. “Causalitymust be proved; otherwise, it’s an invented accusation. If people invoked as intermediaries deny any involvement, it is about false charges brought by Ilan Shor, and a criminal case must be initiated to this effect. This person must be retained for misrepresentation. Vlad Filat's lawyers must take measures to ensure that their client is recognized as the injured party ", explained Turcan.
Court of Appeal Chisinau washed its hands of the matter
On Wednesday, November 2, judges of the Court of Appeal examining Vlad Filat’s case, refused the request of the lawyers of former official to call a rogatory commission in Russia in order to question the three girls mentioned by Ilan Shor of having brokered bribing of former premier . The court instructed the defense to bringing in witnesses. "We made every effort that these witnesses to come to court. I had a communication with them. Witnesses have requested to be summoned before a court. We requested to senda rogatory letter on behalf of the Minister of Justice of the Republic of Moldova to the Russian Federation for hearing these witnesses. Vlad Filat was sentenced to nine years in jail based on Ilan Shor’s statements. The sentence readsthat Shor gave 320 million lei to Vlad Filat with the help of these three people from the Russian Federation. These witnesses are very important in this case", said the lawyer after the hearing held on Wednesday.
"I have not received any request for rogatory commission"
Contacted by phone, Justice Minister Vladimir Cebotarisaidthat he did not receive any request of rogatory commission on this case from the court.
"Legal practice stipulates that the court must submit the request. If we get it, we will execute it. So far, we have not received anything", said the official.
We tried to get a comment from Ilan Shor. As he is under house arrest, the businessman could not reply directly, but his lawyers saidthat under closed hearings, they cannot comment or give some feedback about the view of Vlad Filat’s lawyer. "Unfortunately, I cannot appreciate the statements made by witnesses from the Russian Federation. The status of lawyer, the closed trial process and professional ethics ban it. Everything that Ilan Shor said, was included in the public denouncement. I cannot comment on the information that is not included in the denouncement", said for CIJM one of Ilan Shor’s lawyers, Iulian Balan.
Prosecutor Adriana Betisor has not answered the phone to comment on this case. Head of Anti-Corruption Prosecutor Viorel Morari said that he could not comment on the situation because he was not head of this institution when the case was investigated. "When I came here, the case was already on trial, at the court. As chief prosecutor I cannot change the status quo, the court confirms what has been done. Moreover, the fact that you have reported thatdoes not mean this is true. We reach conclusions from materials of the criminal case. It is difficult to comment on this case because I have not seen the materials of the criminal case", said the prosecutor.
Vlad Filat was sentenced on June 27, 2016, by the Buiucani Court magistrates of the capital, to nine years in prison for passive corruption and influence peddling. Also, the court ordered the confiscation of his property. The politician was arrested based on a self-denunciation filed by businessman Ilan Shor, who admitted that he would have sent to Vlad Filat 250 million dollars for the latter to ensure conditions for developing several businesses of Shor.
Previously, 27 nongovernmental organizations, including the Center for Investigative Journalism in Moldova have signed anappeal and require judgement of case of the former PM Vlad Filat at public hearings.
"The examination of this case in public is particularly important for increasing the society trust in justice, to clarify the situation regarding the robbery of the billion and provide the right for a fair trial of persons accused in this case", reads the appeal of the civil society.
This investigation has been produced as part of the “Journalists for Integrity in Public Service” campaign, carried out the Center for Investigative Journalism with the support of the Good Governance Program of Soros Foundation Moldova. The donor does not influence the topic or content of the published investigations.
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