Moldovan police break up counterfeiting gang, seize 2m fake USD
The Moldova One TV state channel reports that Moldovan police have discovered an unprecedented case of printing fake dollars. Following a large-scale search operation, the law enforcers confiscated about 2m forged dollars. Members and leaders of the criminal group were arrested. The group was headed by an employee of the Academy of Sciences. An investigation is under way now, so police refused to provide many details. However, according to Chisinau's general police commissar, law enforcers are investigating possible ties between the leaders of the group and some politicians involved in the 29 July early election. The necessary documents have already been submitted to the Central Electoral Commission (CEC) given the fact that one of the members of the group is running for a deputy seat.
Footage was taken on July 21 evening when, as a result of a large-scale operation, 1.2m fake dollars, equipment to print the money, and several boxes of paper to print another 18m fake banknotes were found and seized at the countryside house of the key suspect. See footge below (in Romanian).
New searches were carried out today, with the total amount of the confiscated fake dollars reaching 2m.
Chisinau's general police commissar Vladimir Botnari has told a news conference that about 150 policemen, including members of the Fulger special task battalion, took part in the large-scale operation.
The leaders and members of the criminal group were arrested.
"Eight members of this criminal group have been arrested. Two of them do not have the right to leave the city and one is under house arrest. At the same time, no action was taken against a former policeman given the fact that he is a candidate for a deputy seat," Botnaru said.
The leader of the criminal group is a member of the Academy of Sciences, Valentin Rimschi. He was helped by the head of the academy's chemical laboratory. Rimschi has already been arrested for si milar criminal offences in 2005, but he was released in 2006.
According to specialists, the fake dollars are of very good quality. On 23 July, police commissar Vladimir Botnari meets representatives of the US embassy and experts. Moldovan law enforcement bodies are also actively cooperating with similar structures from Russia and Ukraine, as well as with Interpol and Europol.
The private ProTV Chisinau channel reported on 22 July that the majority of the fake dollars were shipped to Russia's Moscow Region. A total of 2m fake banknotes was also put into circulation in Romania, ProTV said, adding that according to law enforcers, another 20m fake dollars are stored in several storehouses in Ukraine. ProTV also quoted the lawyer of two of the suspects as saying that police arrested his clients after! they sued the Interior Ministry and criticized the prosecution service.
Source: Moldova One TV, Chisinau, in Russian 1600 gmt 22 Jul 09