Banks in Moldova lend $1 billion to mysterious beneficiaries and cripple economy

THE disappearance of more than $1 billion from three Moldavian banks has nearly crippled the tiny former Soviet country’s economy, and its people wants answers.

The huge sum of money accounts for nearly 20 per cent of Moldova’s banking system in terms of assets, and represents an eighth of its entire gross domestic product, according to Reuters.

The case of the missing money only came to light after the Central Bank of Moldova found that three banks had given out loans totalling more than $1 billion.

The banks involved — Banca de Economii, Banca Sociala and Unibank — control about a third of all bank assets in the country, including pension payments.

About 10,000 people flocked to the streets of Moldova’s capital, Chisinau, on Sunday to demand the money is returned.

The head of the central bank, Dorin Dragutanu, said foreign investigators would be appointed by the end of May in the second phase of a probe into the loss of the money.

The money was reportedly siphoned off over the course of a few days, just ahead of the nation’s November elections. The recipients have not yet been identified, and it is feared the money may never be recovered.

According to a parliamentary committee’s report, leaked to the press, some of the money is believed to have landed up in Russian banks.

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