Interpol, FBI break up scheme in Moldova to get asylum for wanted criminals

by Admin
Interpol, FBI break up scheme in Moldova to get asylum for wanted criminals

A multinational operation by Interpol and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation cracked down on attempts in Moldova to sabotage one of the international police agency’s key tools, the Red Notice system, officials said Tuesday. Four people were detained in the eastern European country.

The joint sting, which also involved cooperation with French and British authorities, uncovered an international criminal organization with ties to people in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus suspected of cybercrime, Moldova’s anticorruption chief said.

The suspected individuals “paid intermediaries and public figures in Moldova to inform wanted criminals of [their] Red Notice status,” Veronica Dragalin, the anticorruption chief, told reporters.

The notice flags people deemed fugitives to law enforcement worldwide and is one of Interpol’s most important tools. The investigation led to the detention of four people for 72 hours on suspicion of interfering with the notices, Dragalin said.

The scheme sought to have people subject to Red Notices “obtain asylum or refugee status” in Moldova and other countries “with the aim of blocking and deleting” the notices by bribing public officials, she said.

The sums of money involved, she said, amount to several million dollars.

Interpol said the operation by the international policing agency, headquartered in Lyon, France, followed the detection of attempts to “block and delete” the notices.

Moldova opened an investigation on April 2, after receiving information from France’s National Financial Prosecutor’s Office, and subsequently requested the assistance of the FBI.

“We are committed to fighting high-level corruption in all of its forms, particularly those schemes that put in jeopardy criminal investigations worldwide,” Dragalin said.

A statement from Interpol said the agency has taken steps to prevent further “misuse of its systems.”

“Our robust monitoring systems identified suspicious activity,” said Interpol Secretary General Jurgen Stock. “We took immediate action, including reporting the issue to law enforcement authorities in our host country, France.”

Stock highlighted the number of individuals subject to Red Notices — more than 70,000 people — but did not elaborate on the attempted sabotage.

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