The Ministry of Foreign Affairs argues that they were against using the discussion about the Open Dialogue Foundation in Poland to deal with the Moldovan opposition.
After closing DGP magazine’s Tuesday issue, in which we wrote about how Polish institutions had been used by the discredited Moldovan oligarch to attack the Open Dialogue Foundation (ODF), the press office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs — in response to our questions — reported that it was ending cooperation with Chisinau aimed against the ODF.
“Poland received a report on the foundation after the work of the parliamentary committee of inquiry into the ODF’s contacts with the then [Moldavian — ed.] opposition was complete. The Ministry did not assess the content of this report and submitted the document to the Polish Sejm, in accordance with the cover letter of Chairman Andrian Candu, and the Internal Security Agency as the authority requesting that the Office for Foreigners enter Lyudmyla Kozlovska into the SIS II (Schengen Information System),” reads the email to the DGP editorial office.
We also asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs how it interprets the fact that Kozlovska has been issued a Belgian residence card, which automatically means that her name must be removed from the SIS. “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs was not an applicant for the Office for Foreigners, nor did it issue an opinion regarding the inclusion of Mrs Kozlovska’s details in the SIS II system. The Ministry was also not a party to the proceedings for granting a long-term EU residence permit in this case,” was the reply.
The DGP material was also commented on yesterday on Radio Zet by Deputy Head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Szymon Szynkowski vel Sęk. “I think that we will use — and I am talking about my personal opinion here — the available means to appeal against this decision, if it is possible,” announced Szymon Szynkowski vel Sęk in an interview with Beata Lubecka. He was referring to the decision of the Voivodeship Administrative Court, which questioned the quality of the materials delivered by the Ministry in Kozlovska’s case. Thus, we have a situation in which, on the one hand, the press office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs argues that the Ministry was not an applicant to the Office for Foreigners and did not issue an opinion on entering the President of the Foundation into the SIS, while, on the other hand, the Deputy Head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs wants to appeal against the decision of the Voivodeship Administrative Court, despite the fact that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has claimed that it did not issue any opinion in Kozlovska’s case.
Let us recall that the Moldovan Committee of Inquiry was set up last autumn after Poland entered Kozlovska into the Schengen Information System, considering her to be a threat to security and thus denying her access to the area. The outcome of the committee’s work was a document presenting the ODF as a subversive organisation that finances pro-Western politicians Maia Sandu and Andrei Năstase (we described this document in detail in yesterday’s issue of the DGP) and launders dirty money. In theory, the work of the committee was influenced by Moldovan parliamentarians. In practice, it was controlled by the oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc, known as “the puppeteer” (păpușar), who recently fled Moldova after Sandu — with the support of the EU and the US — became Prime Minister.
In its correspondence with the DGP magazine, the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs argues that, in a conversation with his Moldovan counterpart Tudor Ulianovschi at a meeting at the Council of Ministers of the OSCE in Milan in December last year, Minister Jacek Czaputowicz expressed “concern about the instrumental use (in the Moldovan election campaign) of ongoing Polish discussions on the topic of the Open Dialogue Foundation (ODF) and its representatives”.
At that time, Plahotniuc’s circles were focused on creating the impression that the foundation, Kozlovska, and the opposition were part of the Russian “Laundromat” – also known as the “theft of the century”. However, no evidence was given to support this thesis.
The Laundromat operated in 2011–2014 and consisted of withdrawing and laundering huge sums of money through a local banking system. The architect of the scheme was Veaceslav Platon, nicknamed “raider No. 1 in the CIS”, who is serving an 18-year sentence in a Moldavian prison.
He was the brains behind the laundering of 22 billion US dollars (12% of Moldova’s GDP) on the orders of the political and business elites of the former Soviet Union. As reported in March 2017 by Reuters, all this happened under the auspices of the Russian Federal Security Service. For this purpose, a network of companies registered in tax havens was set up. Company A granted credit to Company B, and its repayment was guaranteed by Company C, owned by a Moldovan citizen. Then Company B went bankrupt, and Company C — after the ruling of a Moldovan court — paid the guaranteed money to two banks in Chisinau. From there, the money was further transferred to accounts in financial institutions registered in the EU. Most often they were Latvian and were associated with Russian business. In this way, money would become legal and begin to circulate among other entities in Cyprus, Luxembourg and Great Britain, but also in Denmark, Germany and the USA. In total, the scheme included 700 banks in almost 100 countries and more than 5,000 companies.
The charge against the ODF and the opposition – that they had participated in the Laundromat – was used instrumentally by Plahotniuc. The oligarch understood perfectly well that, after the publication of the parliamentary report, the justice system obedient to him would further deal with the ODF and the opposition and, that this would make it impossible for them to fight for power. However, his calculations were wrong and the situation in Moldova has made a complete U-turn. In the new parliament elected in February this year, the oligarch lost his majority. Supported by the EU and the US, a new government was formed, headed by Sandu. And on 10 June, deputies decided to set up a new … Committee of Inquiry. The committee will once again deal with the Laundromat case, but Plahotniuc won’t have any control over it. According to the Moldavian Russian-language Newsmaker portal, the committee will begin by working on the assumption that the amount of money laundered is much higher than was previously supposed. Today, we are talking about 70 billion US dollars instead of 22 billion. Moreover, Moldova’s financial supervision and internal security agencies — which were controlled by Plahotniuc— were supposedly aware of the money laundering.
The original idea was to involve the World Bank in an objective explanation of the scandal. The World Bank, however, is reluctant to engage in money laundering investigations — especially in countries where it provides funding or technical assistance (i.e. advising on reforms).
“If such activities are undertaken by experts from the World Bank, it is most often as a result of pressure from the United States, which control it,” said our informant who knows how the World Bank functions. This was the case with the corruption and money-laundering scandals in Latvia, mainly regarding the Latvian bank ABVL, which was closed down by the European Central Bank.
The US Department of State believes that ABVL has been involved in the laundering of Russian and Ukrainian money and has also helped North Korea bypass international sanctions. Ultimately, the bank’s fate is being investigated by a special institution of the Council of Europe dealing in money laundering, i.e. the so-called Moneyval Committee.