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Moldova: Key Figure In Money-Laundering Scandal Reinvents Himself

Moldova: Key Figure In Money-Laundering Scandal Reinvents Himself by EurasiaNet

Ilan ?or is a central figure in an allegedly complex money-laundering scheme that cost Moldovan taxpayers nearly $1 billion. But the 28-year-old businessman seems unfazed by controversy: three months ago, he became mayor of Moldova’s regional town of Orhei, and has recast himself as a “mayor-investor.”

So far, most locals seem to accept him that way.

The makeover of ?or, an Israeli-born multimillionaire, underscores the challenges confronting Moldova as it strives to clean up government and create a firewall between office holders and business.

?or was placed under house arrest earlier this year after an investigation for the National Bank of Moldova named him as a prime suspect in a series of fraudulent loans by the private Unibank, Banca Sociala and Banca de Economii that cost Moldovan taxpayers some 16 billion lei (now about $804 million). A former board chair of the Banca de Economii, he faces charges of abuse of power.

Released from custody after a month, he then declared his candidacy for mayor of Orhei, an industrial town of about 33,600, located some 50 kilometers north of the Moldovan capital, Chi?in?u. He has family ties to the community. He won the mayoral election last June with 62 percent of the vote.

It might seem a sudden change of career for an entrepreneur whose interests have extended to banks, TV stations, the Chi?in?u airport and a soccer team (FC Milsami Orhei), but never before to politics.

The job does not protect ?or from prosecution. But it does give him a platform that he can use to garner public...