State Capture: the Case of the Republic of Moldova

June 16, 2017 – Transparency International – Moldova, ADEPT, IDIS „Viitorul” and the LRCM launched a new study: State Capture: the Case of the Republic of Moldova.

Over the last decade, Moldova has gone through several stages of corruption – from endemic corruption, to the “politicization” of the fight against corruption by eliminating political rivals and business competitors, and ultimately to state capture by a narrow group with of obscure interests.

Beginning in 2009, the Democratic Party of Moldova (PDM) headed initially from the shadows, and then officially by the controversial oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc, imposed its interests in cartel agreements between members of the ruling coalition. Initially, he took control over the anticorruption bodies, further expanding the law enforcement. In spite of the enormous financial, media and administrative resources, PDM obtained modest results in the last parliamentary elections. However, the party with the highest anti-rating according to sociological studies has “converted” by various methods, including blackmail and bribery, MPs from other factions. Parliament has been subject to an unprecedented dictate of political “migration”, with the share of transfections in various factions accounting for around 1/3 of the deputies. At present, PDM has become the absolute beneficiary of the “migration” phenomenon of deputies and in fact controls the Legislature.

As a result of deputies’ “migration”, the new structure of the Legislature does not reflect the will of the people. Questions regarding its legitimacy, in particular, the legitimacy of decision-making, and in the context, – the legitimacy of the intention to change the electoral system in the Republic of Moldova, are still more pressing.

Anticorruption bodies, due to their hierarchical subordination and lack of individual guarantees and freedoms similar to judges, are more prone to control. The political distribution of functions among political parties, the lack of new names in the anti-corruption institutions, the selectivity of filing files against political opponents and economic competitors, speak of the fact that the institutions are under the influence of this group of interests / oligarchs.

The interest group that controls the Legislature and the anti-corruption bodies extends its control over the judiciary. Reform in the judiciary has involved considerable financial resources, especially from development partners. Expectations from the implementation of the reform were high, but this was largely mimicked by the authorities, as virtually the same actors remained in the system with questions of integrity.

There are multiple examples of abusive use of the function by judges and cases demonstrating the judicial link and bias towards the PDM. It can not be concluded that the entire judiciary is captured because judges benefit from individual independence, and some critical voices are still seen. However, the evidence clearly indicates the bad state of affairs in the judiciary. Relevant cases of persecution of judges, advocates and whistleblowers are relevant. Money laundering schemes, bank frauds, attempts to legalize fraudulent money, which could not be applied in practice without involving the interest group in the sphere of justice, are also eloquent.

By controlling the Legislature and dominating, in large part, the Judiciary, it is very easy to concentrate power in the institutions of the Executive. Starting in 2016, the PDM took de facto power in the Executive. Criminal prosecution bodies and courts have been used by this party as instruments of intimidation and loyalty to political rivals both at central and local level. This practice is particularly noticeable with regard to local councilors and mayors who are blackmailed to join the PDM. The central government and, to a large extent, the local government are controlled by this party that uses state institutions for their own benefit. An eloquent example is the allocation of financial resources for infrastructure projects on a client basis, a priority being given to the local authorities headed by PDM representatives.

The aforementioned prove that Moldova is seriously affected by state capture. An effective way to redress the situation would be to initiate independent international investigations of the  money laundering, bank fraud, attempts to legalize fraudulent money. If there is no urgency to carry out such investigations, the Republic of Moldova risks becoming a zone fore regional instability creating risks of various international criminal schemes, including money laundering and legalization of fraudulent capital.


This activity was conducted within the project „Building the State of Law and Democracy: the Contribution of Civil Society” funded by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Romania.  The opinions expressed in this document do not necessarily reflect the position of the donor.

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