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Fugitive Moldovan Tycoon Has Second Identity, President Says

Vlad Plahotniuc (pictured in 2017) fled the country this summer.
Vlad Plahotniuc (pictured in 2017) fled the country this summer.

A fugitive Moldovan tycoon and former leader of Moldova's Democratic Party, who is wanted for alleged money laundering, was issued a second set of identity papers under a different name last year, President Igor Dodon has said.

Vlad Plahotniuc, who fled the country in the summer, also had a passport under the name of Vladislav Vladimir Novak, Dodon said after a meeting of Moldova's Security Council.

Dodon said the previous government controlled by Plahotniuc's Democratic Party (PDM) issued the documents on July 29, 2018, adding that Moldovan authorities will notify Interpol of the finding.

However, Dodon said that when Plahotniuc fled the country in June after a new governing coalition took over, he did not use his false identity. Dodon did not elaborate.

Plahotniuc's whereabouts remains unknown, but media reports say he may have fled to the United States.

Moldovan anti-corruption prosecutors have charged Plahotniuc, who critics say once wielded overwhelming control over Moldova's politics and economy, with organizing a criminal network used to trade illicit goods and with laundering millions of dollars in 2013-15.

He is also wanted by Russia on drug trafficking and homicide charges.

Plahotniuc left the country after the pro-European ACUM bloc agreed to form a coalition with Dodon's pro-Russian Socialist Party (PSRM) on June 8, pushing the ruling PDM out of government.

However, the ACUM-PSRM coalition collapsed last month after losing a confidence vote, prompting Dodon to appoint a so-called "technocratic" government led by one of his former advisers, Ion Chicu.

The government has the parliamentary backing of Dodon's Socialists as well as the PDM lawmakers.

Moldova is one of Europe's poorest and most corrupt countries.