Search Warrants Executed by the Anti-Corruption Prosecution Office in an International Joint Investigation


CHIȘINĂU – This morning, June 4, 2024, the Anti-corruption Prosecution Office executed multiple search warrants in a joint investigation between the Republic of Moldova, the Republic of France, with assistance from the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), involving a suspected corruption scheme to bribe officials in Moldova and elsewhere to interfere with INTERPOL’s publication of Red Notices for wanted international fugitives (in violation of art. 324 para. (3) let. b) and c) of the Moldovan Penal Code).

Procedural Background

The Anti-corruption Prosecution Office opened a criminal case on April 2, 2024, based on information received from the French National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF). The French investigation was initiated on information provided by INTERPOL. Subsequently, United Kingdom law enforcement authorities also provided relevant information to the Moldovan Anti-corruption Prosecution Office.

On April 11, 2024, the Republic of Moldova and the Republic of France executed a Joint Investigation Team agreement at the Eurojust headquarters in The Hague, Netherlands. 

The Anti-corruption Prosecution Office also requested the assistance of the FBI as specialists in the processing of digital devices to be seized as part of the larger investigation.

Factual Background

The International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) is an inter-governmental organization with 196 member countries, which helps police work together by enabling them to share and access data on crimes and criminals, including through the issuance of Red Notices. A Red Notice is a request to law enforcement worldwide to locate an individual for purposes of extradition, surrender, or similar legal action. It is based on a request made by a member country, which provides an arrest warrant or court order issued by the judicial authorities in the requesting country. Member countries apply their own laws in deciding what action is taken on the basis of a Red Notice.

Based on evidence accumulated in the Joint Investigation to date, there is probable cause to believe that a group of persons of different nationalities have implemented a suspected corruption scheme to enable persons subject to INTERPOL Red Notices to obtain asylum or refugee status in the Republic of Moldova and in other countries, to seek to block and delete their Red Notice, through the payment of bribes to public officials, including in Moldova. The bribes are alleged to range up to several millions of U.S. dollars. 

INTERPOL alerted law enforcement officials in France, the host country for INTERPOL, of this scheme and is cooperating with the investigation. 

Additional evidence has established probable cause to believe that, in an overlapping corruption scheme, an international criminal organization with ties to individuals in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and other countries, suspected of committing cybercrimes that have caused millions of dollars in damages, have paid bribes to intermediaries and public officials in the Republic of Moldova to inform wanted criminals about the status of Red Notices in exchange for payments. The United States Secret Service, the FBI and the UK National Crime Agency provided relevant information to Moldovan authorities in furtherance of this investigation.

Search Warrants

On June 4, 2024, pursuant to search warrants authorized by an instructional judge in the Republic of Moldova, the Anti-corruption Prosecution Office executed search warrants in 33 locations on 12 persons, with assistance from the French PNF, the French Judicial Police National Department, Anti-Corruption Central Office (OCLCIFF) and the FBI in the processing of digital devices seized during the authorized search warrants.

As a result of the searches, law enforcement officials seized digital devices, including mobile phones, laptops, and computers, other objects and documents, which are to be examined in terms of relevance and conclusiveness for the criminal case. The searches this morning took place with the full cooperation of the implicated public institutions and are still ongoing at this time. 

At this time, 4 persons have been detained for a period of up to 72 hours.

Additional criminal investigation actions will be carried out to establish all the circumstances of the case, in order to adopt a decision in accordance with the law, about which the public will be informed.

“We are committed to fighting high-level corruption in all of its forms, particularly those schemes that put in jeopardy criminal investigations worldwide. This joint investigation is a testament that international cooperation between law enforcement agencies is crucial in detecting and stopping corrupt actors who have reach beyond national borders. Together, we will continue to work tirelessly to eliminate corruption from public institutions and make the world a safer place for our citizens,” said Veronica Dragalin, Chief of the Anti-corruption Prosecution Office of Moldova.

“On behalf of the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office, I am delighted with the success of the operations carried out today by the Moldovan authorities, with the support of French investigators and our American and British partners. As the first recipients of INTERPOL’s alert regarding a corruption scheme threatening the foundations of its action, we have been able to test the strength of international cooperation mechanisms and the exemplary commitment of our Moldovan counterparts. We are going to pursue our investigations with determination,” said Céline Guillet, Deputy Head of the French National Financial Prosecutor’s Office.

“During an unrelated investigation, the U.S. Secret Service uncovered INTERPOL Red Notices that were in the possession of criminals. We notified INTERPOL leading to the discovery of this network of corrupt officials,” said U.S. Secret Service Assistant Director of Investigations Brian Lambert. “The U.S. Secret Service works closely with our international law enforcement partners to share information to ensure that, together, we can hold criminals accountable for their actions.”

“These corrupt officials abused their positions to provide a service that enabled some of the world’s most serious criminals to operate, travel freely and evade detection by law enforcement. As part of an ongoing joint investigation, the NCA uncovered vital evidence which identified key individuals and proved high harm cyber criminals were benefitting from this service. International collaboration is key to disrupting serious and organised crime groups who operate on a global scale. This activity, conducted jointly with the with Spanish, US, Moldovan, and French authorities, shows that together we are having an impact. We are committed to working with our partners to protect the UK from the effects of corruption, wherever it is taking place in the world,” said Paul Foster, Director Threat Leadership, U.K. National Crime Agency.

“The U.S. Embassy is pleased the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) could provide advisory and technical support to this important joint law enforcement operation with the Republic of Moldova, France, and the United Kingdom. The United States is committed to fighting corruption and upholding the rule of law around the world. Today’s successful operation reflects the broader partnership between the Moldovan and U.S. governments as we work side by side to help build a more democratic, prosperous, and secure future for the people of Moldova,” said representatives of the U.S. Embassy in Moldova.

INTERPOL’s Secretary General, Jürgen Stock said: “Our robust monitoring systems identified suspicious activity in relation to a small number of Red Notices.  We took immediate action, including reporting the issue to law enforcement authorities in our host country France.Over 70,000 people are subject to INTERPOL Red Notices, and while we are confident in the strength of our systems, we do not tolerate misuse of any kind. We appreciate the efforts of law enforcement authorities involved, and we will continue providing our full support to the ongoing investigations.”

Note: A person accused of committing a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty by a final court decision.


Press Office | Procuratura Anticorupție