By Alexander Tanas
CHISINAU (Reuters) – Fugitive pro-Russian magnate Ilan Shor, accused by authorities in Moldova of overseeing a scheme to “buy” voters, left Israel this week, but his whereabouts are unknown, an Interpol official said on Thursday.
Shor was sentenced to 15 years in prison by a Moldovan court in April over a $1 billion bank fraud and has for months organised street protests from Israel to demand the resignation of pro-European President Maia Sandu’s government.
The Constitutional Court outlawed his party and authorities barred his allies from running in this week’s local elections for a different party. Officials accused businessman Shor of channelling the equivalent of 50 million euros into Moldova to “buy” voters.
Viorel Tentiu, head of Interpol’s office in Moldova told state broadcaster Moldova-1 that Shor had left Israel.
“We received information that Shor left the country late on 6th November,” Tentiu said. “The identification of the flight and the destination remain unknown.”
Shor, he said, was thought to have flown to Turkey, but Turkish officials said he had last been there in 2015. There was no indication that Shor was in Russia, Tentiu said.
“Russia is a country that cooperates with Interpol and, if necessary, Moldova will ask Interpol’s general secretariat in Lyon (France) to take action,” Tentiu said.
“We are gathering information to determine where he went. In accordance with Moldova’s request to detain and arrest Shor, all of Interpol’s member-states have been asked if he is on their territory.”
Sandu has denounced Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and accused Moscow of plotting to remove her as she campaigns to secure European Union membership for Moldova. The EU Commission this week recommended that talks begin on membership for both Moldova and Ukraine subject to meeting certain conditions.
Moldova’s Jurnalul TV had earlier reported that Shor was due to meet senior members of Moldova’s Russia-friendly Socialist Party in Istanbul, but party members denied this.
(Reporting by Alexander Tanas; Editing by Ron Popeski and Grant McCool)