The United States has demonstrated its commitment to countering systemic corruption and the Russian government’s malign influence campaigns in Moldova by imposing sanctions on nine individuals and 12 entities.
The sanctioned individuals and entities include oligarchs widely recognized for capturing and corrupting Moldova’s political and economic institutions and those acting as Russian instruments seeking to manipulate the United States and its allies and partners, including Moldova and Ukraine.
These sanctions “expose not only Russia’s covert strategy in Moldova, but also demonstrate how corruption undermines the rule of law,” said Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson.
The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, or OFAC, designated Vladimir Plahotniuc, a former government official involved in corruption. Plahotniuc’s bribery of law enforcement officials reflected his longstanding efforts to capture and corrupt Moldova’s judicial and law enforcement institutions, while using his wealth and political influence to undermine political rivals and rule of law in the country. The State Department imposed visa restrictions on Plahotniuc in January 2020 for his involvement in significant corruption. As part of that action, Plahotniuc and his immediate family members are generally ineligible for entry to the United States.
OFAC also designated Ilan Shor, leader of the Shor Party, for being responsible for directly or indirectly engaging in interference in a foreign government election for the benefit of the Russian government. A beneficiary of a large-scale 2014 money laundering scheme related to the theft of $1 billion from Moldovan banks, Shor has worked with other corrupt oligarchs and Moscow-based entities to create political unrest in Moldova and sought to undermine Moldova’s bid for EU membership.
OFAC designated 7 additional individuals and 12 entities that have been involved in the Kremlin’s attempts to interfere in Moldova’s elections. Russia has sought to advance its own interests by providing illicit financing – including funds earmarked for bribes and electoral fraud – to support pro-Kremlin political activity in Moldova. According to Under Secretary Nelson, “Russian influence operations attempt to exploit weaknesses in target countries in order to destabilize them from within.”
These designations reaffirm the U.S. commitment to tackling corruption as a first order national security threat and to promoting accountability for malign actors who seek to undermine Moldova’s democratic institutions and elections. The United States will continue to impose costs on those threatening democracy abroad.