Moldova. According to COUNTRYAAH, Chisinau is the capital of Moldova which is located in Eastern Europe. The country was in deep political crisis during the year following a major high-level fraud. The central bank had discovered that three banks paid out approximately SEK 9 billion just before the parliamentary elections in November 2014. Summaries corresponding to one-seventh of the country’s GDP had been rolled out without eco-crimea or US accountants being able to track where they went.
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The banking system was shaken, pension funds were threatened and the EU-friendly government parties that won the election were questioned. Executives at the Financial Supervisory Authority and the central bank were dismissed, but there were suspicions of responsibility higher up.
The State Prosecutor opened an investigation, several people were arrested and others got their assets frozen. The lost money was expected to increase government debt, and the currency leu had lost over 40% of its value from November to February.
At the beginning of the year, the Liberal Democrats and the Democratic Party agreed to form a minority coalition without the Liberals’ former partner. Instead, the coalition received voting support from the Communist Party when new Prime Minister Chiril Gaburici was approved by Parliament in February.
But the banking scandal triggered popular protests directed at the government. During the spring, large demonstrations were held in the capital Chişinău against the corruption demanding that the money be returned. In May, tens of thousands of protesters gathered.
In June, the new Prime Minister Gaburici was forced to resign, after it was revealed that he had forged a certificate of his education. Foreign Minister Natalia Gherman became acting head of government.
The coalition parties were successful in the local elections in June, and in July a new national government was formed, including the Liberals. A new Prime Minister was elected Liberal Democrat Valeriu Streleț, who was supported by a scarce majority, 52 of Parliament’s 101 members. The new government explained that its priority was to fight corruption and to find the lost bank billions.
The poor Moldavians felt the consequences of the power elite’s corruption. The central bank’s support for the looted banks decreased the value of the currency, inflation increased and credit was tightened. The loan rate was gradually increased during the year from 4.5% to 17.5%. Gas, electricity and district heating became more expensive. The World Bank kept promised budget support, and foreign lenders pressed the government to close the three emptied banks.
Socialist Party leader Igor Dodon declared that the EU-friendly government will end “where it belongs – in court”. The loans taken in the three banks were reportedly sold to a British shell company and then to a Latvian businessman in Scotland, but the documentation disappeared when a van was set on fire in a refusal. The scandal was seen as a logical consequence of the deeply rooted corruption. Over 40% of the companies were reported to pay bribes to obtain building permits. Foreign investors were discouraged at a time when the economy was crying out for stimulus, after the Russian economic downturn hit Moldova’s exports and Moldava’s income abroad.
In September new major protests were held in Chişinău against the banking scandal and corruption, and tent camps were erected on the National Square. The Governor of the Central Bank was forced to leave his post.
In October, the banking scandal took a dramatic turn when the Liberal Democrat and former Prime Minister Vlad Filat were arrested in Parliament on suspicion of involvement in the fraud. Protesters had then blocked the exits to prevent Filat from leaving the building. The opposition demanded a vote of no confidence in the government, but before the vote was taken, also an opposition politician, Renato Usatii, leader of the Prosperan Party, was arrested. He was charged with illegal eavesdropping, after recording phone calls that were said to prove the corruption.
Usatii, who had led the protests against the National Square government, posted recordings of telephone conversations on the Internet that were said to prove how Vlad Filat asked for bribes from a businessman accused of being the brain behind the bank fraud. Usatii deliberately violated the law in the public interest.
The government lost the vote of no confidence, with 65 of the 101 members supporting it, since the Democrats jumped off the government side and made common cause with the Prorian opposition parties. Thus, a new government must be formed within three months, otherwise new elections will follow.
In December, Ion Sturza was nominated new Prime Minister. Parliament would vote on his candidacy after the New Year.