In order to identify illegally acquired assets, whether it is expensive cars, lands, or cash, within the Criminal Assets Recovery Agency (CARA), the Financial Investigations Directorate has been created. Such investigations are carried out by criminal investigation officers in cases of corruption, money laundering, drug trafficking, human trafficking, smuggling, tax evasion, or one of the 55 income-generating crimes under CARA’s jurisdiction.
In an exclusive interview, the Head of the Financial Investigations Directorate within CARA, Vitalie Racu, and International Expert Pedro Gomes Pereira, talked about the importance of parallel financial investigations and the support offered by international experts to improve the process of criminal assets recovery in the Republic of Moldova.
“In 2015, international experts conducted studies which found that Criminal Investigation Bodies and prosecutors focus more on identifying the criminal act, accumulating evidence regarding the person who committed the crime, and sending the case to court. The identification of assets remained uncovered or was not even carried out at all. Later, it was found that such a specialized body is necessary to conduct these parallel investigations on important criminal cases, such as corruption, money laundering, drug or human trafficking, smuggling, and tax evasion”, said the Head of the Financial Investigations Directorate within CARA, Vitalie Racu.
The parallel financial investigations are not aiming only at identifying the assets that the subjects of crimes have in their possession, but also the assets that belong to them through third parties. International experts recommend that parallel financial investigations be carried out in collaboration with other institutions. Thus, CARA collaborates with the Office for Prevention and Fight against Money Laundering, the National Integrity Authority, banking institutions, etc.
“Criminal investigations bodies and parallel investigation teams should be encouraged to meet periodically to discuss the operational difficulties and issues, of course, respecting the limits imposed by legislation on what they can discuss during informal meetings. This is an example that has worked very well in Spain and Great Britain”, noted the International Expert, Pedro Gomes Pereira.
The Criminal Assets Recovery Agency is a specialized autonomous subdivision within the National Anticorruption Center. CARA was founded in 2017, aiming at carrying out parallel financial investigations, as well as at seizing criminal assets. In the five years of activity, CARA has managed to identify and recover, in the country and abroad, goods and assets worth more than 6 billion MDL.
This material was made with the support of the Soros Foundation Moldova, in partnership with the Criminal Assets Recovery Agency, an autonomous subdivision within NAC. The foundation does not influence the editorial policy of the Realitatea Press Group.