WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, along with U.S. Representatives Gregory W. Meeks (D-N.Y.) and Michael McCaul (R-Texas), Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, today sent a letter to President Biden urging his administration to strongly support Moldova’s democratic reform and anti-corruption agenda by making a determination on the imposition of sanctions pursuant to the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act with respect to certain corrupt actors in Moldova.
“While the United States has imposed visa restrictions on Moldovan oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc, other notoriously corrupt figures have thus far not faced U.S. or international sanctions,” the lawmakers wrote. “Sanctioning corrupt figures in Moldova whose actions are destabilizing the country and hampering the rule of law is critical to ensuring the Moldovan government fully realizes its pro-democracy agenda, builds resilience to Russian malign influence and maintains its Western trajectory.”
Full text of the letter can be found here and below:
Dear Mr. President,
Under the leadership of President Maia Sandu and Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilita, Moldova has seized a pro-democracy agenda and pursued closer relations with the United States and Europe. While working to implement critical judicial and anti-corruption reforms, the government has also been extraordinarily generous in welcoming and protecting Ukrainian refugees fleeing Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked war of aggression. Moldova accepted more refugees per capita than any other country – a substantial burden given the country’s limited resources – with most refugees residing in the homes of Moldovan families.
The United States must help Chisinau not only mitigate the impacts of Russia’s war against Ukraine on Moldova’s stability and prosperity, but also continue to strongly support the government’s democratic reform and anti-corruption agenda. President Sandu and the Moldovan government have taken significant steps to demonstrate their commitment to prioritizing efforts to root out corruption. With the support of the United States, the Moldovan government is working to implement external, independent vetting of judges, prosecutors, and relevant oversight bodies to weed out corrupt judicial actors.
While the United States has imposed visa restrictions on Moldovan oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc, other notoriously corrupt figures have thus far not faced U.S. or international sanctions. More robustly using existing U.S. sanctions authorities to designate Moldovan kleptocrats will bolster the Moldovan government’s efforts to fortify the rule of law as well as deter corrupt actors. Moreover, many of these corrupt figures also serve as vectors of Russian malign influence. For example, the Russian Laundromat scandal funneled at least $20 billion through Moldova to fund Russian malign influence efforts abroad. This kind of corruption, as you identified in National Security Study Memorandum-1, runs squarely counter to U.S. interests and threatens U.S. national security.
Section 1263(d) of the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act (Title XII, Subtitle F of P.L. 114-328) requires the President, upon receipt of a request from the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, to determine whether a foreign person: 1) is a government official or senior associate of such an official responsible for, or complicit in, ordering, controlling, or otherwise directing, acts of significant corruption; or 2) has materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services in support of such acts. The President is to submit a report to the Committees within 120 days stating, “whether or not the President imposed or intends to impose sanctions with respect to the person,” and if so, describing those sanctions. Pursuant to the Act, we request that your administration make a determination on the imposition of sanctions with respect to the below foreign persons that we believe to be responsible for significant acts of corruption in Moldova, including the misappropriation of state assets, the expropriation of private assets for personal gain, bribery, money laundering and the transfer of the proceeds of corruption.
Mr. President, in your speech last year in front of the UN General Assembly about today’s battle between authoritarianism and democracy, you correctly stated that “the democratic world is everywhere…It lives in the proud Moldovans who helped deliver a landslide victory for the forces of democracy, with a mandate to fight graft, to build a more inclusive economy.” Sanctioning corrupt figures in Moldova whose actions are destabilizing the country and hampering the rule of law is critical to ensuring the Moldovan government fully realizes its pro-democracy agenda, builds resilience to Russian malign influence, and maintains its Western trajectory.
We look forward to your response.