The Moldovan Scheme

Veaceslav Platon and Russian Laundromat

How Veaceslav Platon’s High Life in Kyiv Came Crashing Down

Elina Cobaleva, a Russian celebrity stylist,vis the ex-wife of Veaceslav Platon, a Moldovan businessman, and one of the country’s richest men. The two were married in 2001 and divorced in 2014.

An Instagram photo showing a Bentley Continental GT V8 doing 250 kilometers an hour reads “We take off. #IAmRocket #Gagarin.” Elina Cobaleva sits behind the wheel.

Using banking and customs records, RISE Moldova, an OCCRP partner, tracked the purchase of the Bentley and discovered that the luxury car was paid for with money received from the Russian Laundromat, a US$ 20.8 billion financial fraud scheme uncovered by OCCRP in 2014.

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Moldova involved in Russian Laundromat

The “Laundromat” – a financial vehicle to move vast sums of money out of Russia through banks for years. The billions were moved from Russia, into and through the 112 bank accounts that comprised the system in eastern Europe, then into banks around the world.

Reporters can now say that much of the money ultimately found its way to Russian businessmen who own groups of companies involved in construction, engineering, information technology, and banking. All held hundreds of millions of US dollars in state contracts either with the government directly, or with state-owned entities.

Money that might have helped repair the country’s deteriorating roads and ports, modernize the health care system, or ease the poverty of senior citizens – was instead deposited in a Moldovan bank. At the other end of the Laundromat, money flowed out for luxuries, for rock bands touring Russia, and on a small Polish non-governmental organization that pushed Russia’s agenda in the European Union. (It is run by Mateusz Piskorski, a Polish pro-Kremlin party leader arrested for spying for Russia).

Well-known companies unwittingly took part when beneficiaries used their Laundromat money to buy goods and services: South Korea’s Samsung received laundered money, as did the Swedish telecom company Ericsson, and the toolmaker Black & Decker. In the United States, $500,000 went to Total Golf Construction Inc., the company that boasts of renovating a Donald Trump golf course on Canouan Island in the Grenadines.

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