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Ex-Moldovan PM Says Offshore Business Dealings Were Legal

Ion Sturza, Moldova's prime minister briefly during 1999, had offshore business dealings with other executives.

Former Moldovan Prime Minister Ion Sturza has denied any wrongdoing connected with his shares in two offshore companies in the British Virgin Islands.

The offshore holdings were exposed by "Panama Papers" documents leaked by news media over the weekend showing how people in power use offshore companies to hide their wealth.

Sturza, who was prime minister briefly in 1999, was a top executive in Rompetrol, a Romanian oil company, from 2002 to 2009.

Investigative journalists at RISE Moldova said Sturza, Rompetrol chief executive Dinu Patriciu, and Rompetrol's Moscow office director Constantin Lutsenko became associates in the offshore firm Markside Holdings Ltd in 2005.

The company was liquidated at a secret shareholder's meeting in 2012, with Sturza signing the decision.

RISE Moldova said Sturza and Lutsenko also were associates at Chandler Group Holdings, together with Gunnar Nordsletten, the son of the Norwegian ambassador to Russia. It said Sturza later ceded his shares to Lutsenko.

"There were a lot of companies where we were managers, were beneficiaries, but I can't remember this company," Sturza said. "These were not companies used for evasion or covering up financial" transactions.

Based on reporting by AP and