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Moldovan Parliament Publishes Second Report On $1 Billion Bank Fraud

CHISINAU -- A Moldovan parliamentary commission has published the second part of an investigation detailing the disappearance of some $1 billion from the nation’s banking system, an event that the tiny, impoverished country is still reeling from.

Aleksandr Slusari, the parliament's deputy speaker and chairman of the body’s investigative committee, said the report, released July 4, was missing the most important item -- who was responsible for the disappearance of the funds -- and he blamed the prosecutor's office for hiding it.

Completed in March 2018, the report by the U.S.-based corporate investigative firm Kroll is the second part of a detailed audit of how Moldovan banks distributed massive loans without adequate oversight.

The distributions led to the collapse of three of the nation’s lenders in 2014 and the disappearance of about $1 billion from the country-- equivalent today to nearly one-tenth of Moldova’s economy, Europe’s poorest nation.

It also cast a black eye on a country seeking further integration with western Europe.

“We have heard the myth for a long time that the Kroll-2 report cannot be published,” Slusari said. "If the authorities insisted, the report would have been published" before now.

The Prosecutor-General's office denied having information containing the beneficiaries.

Kroll delivered the second part of its report to prosecutors last year. The first phase of the Knoll report was made public by parliamentarian Andrian Candu on his personal blog in May 2015.

The Kroll reports show that much of the money ended up moving through offshore accounts, including Ukrainian and Latvian banks.

Lawmakers have demanded Prosecutor General Eduard Harunjen resign, in part for failing to investigate the case adequately. Harunjen is considered close to the Democratic Party, which is headed by the controversial tycoon, Vladimir Plahotniuc. Harunjen has said he will not step down.

Prime Minister Maia Sandu on July 5 blamed Harunjen personally for the failure to recover some of the money.

“Harunjen will answer before the law for inaction and abuses committed. And because of its actions and inactions billions and billions of [Moldovan] lei have been stolen from the state and Moldovan citizens,” she said.

On July 4, during a rare news conference, Harunjen defended his office's handling of the probe, saying investigators had already done enormous work.

Her comments came amid fierce debate in parliament as opposition parties, including the Democratic Party, seek seats on the commission investigating the bank theft.

The six-member commission headed by Slusari currently has no opposition members.