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Why Shor’s Lawyer Deals with Recovery of One Billion Dollars

  • Denis Ulanov
Luni, 09.01.2017 13:32   816
The Moldovan authorities apparently struggle with heroism to recover something from the one billion dollars which had been stolen from three commercial banks.

This is translation from Romanian. The original story is HERE

This struggle however looks compromised given that the effort is led by lawyers of the person who is believed to be a mastermind of the fraud. 

There is a long list of authorities that are trying to persuade the public of doing their best in order to recover the billions of lei which had disappeared from the Saving Bank, Unibank, and Social Bank – Parliament, Government, National Bank, Prosecutor’s General Office, National Anticorruption Center, from Speaker Candu to Premier Filip and governor Cioclea. 

On the other hand a number of events cast doubt over the facts as official messages don’t match the actions. 

36 Years to Recover the Money

One example is the pace of recovery of money, which dropped down to one million lei a day during the past two months. If we keep in mind that there’s still 13.4 billion lei to find, Moldovans will need at least 36 years to put back the whole sum. 

It is true that debtors of those three banks might pour one billion lei, according to some estimates, but this process can take at least three years, or even ten years. Moldova already has a 20-year-old experience in bank shutdowns. 

It’s a very long period while many of the culprits and millions of losers as a result of the fraud will certainly not survive to see the end of this sad story. 

A Lawyer of Ilan Shor will Handle Money Recovery

The writer won’t link too many hopes about getting the money back or about sending the culprits behind bars. There are many arguments so let’s pick a few. 

For instance, did you know who deals with the collection of debts from borrowers of those three banks? The office of lawyer Denis Ulanov. He is the one who had defended the former Savings Bank chairman Ilan Shor, a millionaire mayor of Orhei, in courts of law more than one year ago. Mr Shor is now under formal charges of masterminding the fraud. 

During the governorship of Dorin Drăguțanu at the National Bank of Moldova, the administrators of the Savings Bank and the Social Bank contracted Ulanov’s law office to collect debts from borrowers of those banks. Given the fact that those administrators (now closure oversight officers) were National Bank employees and were appointed by that institution, there is a reasonable question whether the central bank truly worked to recover the stolen money.

One more thing to keep in mind: the central bank classified the information about the borrowers and the general public is unaware who those people are. 

The National Bank does not see any conflict of interest in the fact that Mr Ulanov had represented in the courts of law both Mr Shor’s interests and the Savings Bank’s management. Ilan Shor as we remember was the former head of the Saving Bank’s managing board and is suspected of fraud.

Fees of Millions learned from open sources that Denis Ulanov’s office will receive a 7% fee from the amount recovered from borrowers – this is clearly stated in his contracts with the Savings Bank and the Social Bank. 

A simple calculation shows that the Ulanov law office alone might have earned 33 million lei, given that it had recovered more than 746 million lei by September 2016 from the Savings Bank and the Social Bank. Whether Mr Ulanov shared his job with others is still a question. 

The amount is yet quite large for Moldovan reality – it is almost three times bigger than the fee paid to Kroll, the international company that investigates the fraud, for its services in 2015.

Another question, rhetorical, for the National Bank, Parliament, Government, Prosecutor’s General Office, and National Anticorruption Center is whether any case regarding the one-billion-dollar bank fraud would be completed in addition to the condemnation of former Prime Minister Vladimir Filat and his family.

Godfather and “Spinner” Scheme

We wonder why there is no movement in the case filed against businessman Corneliu Ţurcanu, who is alleged to have planned the so-called Spinner Scheme. Mr Ţurcanu is said to be sheltered by powerful men including his godfather in the Higher Board of Magistrates, friends in the Supreme Court of Justice and the Chișinău Court of Appeals. 

If other public institutions join the chorus to contribute some help to this case – as the judges were quoted as saying – then we won’t probably see any culprits going to jail. 

Here’s a short story about Corneliu Ţurcanu. On 25 November 2014 his Zîmbreni Winery borrowed 25 million lei from the Social Bank and pledged properties which had been already pledged for other credits from the same bank. This happened on the same day when many ghost companies borrowed more than 13 billion lei from the Social Bank. This operation later forced the three banks into collapse. 

Mr Corneliu Ţurcanu and his wife too carried out a number of dubious operations from their accounts in this bank. Along with affiliated firms he withdrew a total of 25 million lei. 

A curious thing though: he did not use any offshore firms but engaged local ones. In other words there is no need to send the money outside the country if you have plans to keep it. The oversight officers said the scheme was a clear fraud. 

Bank Will Soon Be Responsible Towards Borrowers 

A probe has been developing with no progress so far. Even worse! The manager of the Zâmbreni Winery who is also administrator at Financial Investment sued the Social Bank for (!) “improper validation of debts.” It might happen that the bank would be declared a debtor to the winery. 

In June 2016 Prime Minister Pavel Filip reiterated that the authorities pretty much wanted a completion of the investigation in a transparent way, with full recovery of money and prevention of similar crimes in the future. 

A good point. The writer is looking forward to learn when the authorities will shift from words to action. 

* * *

This article has been produced as part of the Project „Investigative reporting for transparency in public finance management and government integrity”, which is implemented by No prior permission or copyright is applicable for republication of this piece entirely or in part and no prior agreement from is necessary to quote it.

This article has appeared thanks to the generous support of the American people via the U.S. Department of State. The opinions and conclusions herein do not necessarily reflect the stance of the Department of State or the United States Government. 

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