By Andrei Skvarsky.
Moldova has become the seventh country to try to track down the $230m stolen from the Russian state by senior Russian officials in an alleged tax scam uncovered by Hermitage Capital lawyer Sergei Magnitsky.
Hermitage claims it has obtained documents indicating that in 2008 a $53m chunk of the money was wired from an account in Russia’s Bank Krainiy Sever to two accounts in Moldova’s largest bank, Banca de Economii.
Banca de Economii forwarded the money to multiple accounts in Austria, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Switzerland and Hong Kong, according to the alleged papers.
The EU Observer magazine cited Moldova’s National Anti-Corruption Centre as saying it had launched money laundering proceedings in December 2012 but that no Moldovan bank accounts had been frozen yet and that it could not name any of the suspects because of the presumed innocence principle.
Earlier, Austria, Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Switzerland had started looking for the money.
Magnitsky was arrested on a tax evasion charge soon after exposing the alleged fraud. A gravely sick man, he died in a Moscow remand prison after being denied essential medical assistance. Hermitage and human rights activists claim that prison guards beat him with batons shortly before his death.