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Moldova To Step Up Probe Into Missing $1 Billion

The head of Moldova's central bank says authorities will step up an investigation into the disappearance of more than $1 billion from three banks, after some 10,000 people protested over the scandal last week.

Moldova last year placed the three banks under central bank administration after a series of nonperforming loans bankrupted the lenders.

Central bank head Dorin Dragutanu said foreign investigators would be appointed soon in the second phase of a probe into the loss of the money, which is equivalent to around one-fifth of Moldova's gross domestic product, based on current exchange rates.

The central bank commissioned risk consultancy Kroll to conduct a preliminary investigation into the activities of the three banks.

Their findings were confidential, but on May 4 parliamentary speaker Andrian Candu published what he said was Kroll's report on his website.

The report said the scope of its investigation was too small to trace the identities of all who had gained from the banks' transactions.

It mentions the name of former President Petru Lucinschi as being a shareholder in one of the three banks.

Based on reporting by Reuters and