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The investigation “Dodon’s Money in the Bahamas”. The ECHR condemned Moldova for violating freedom of expression in the RISE Moldova case

13 October 2021
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In a judgment of October 12, 2021, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) condemned Moldova for violating freedom of expression in the case of RISE Moldova and Iurie Sanduța versus the Republic of Moldova. “The Court ruled unanimously that there was a violation of Article 10 of the Convention,” wrote.

ECHR judges ruled in favor of RISE Moldova and investigative journalist Iurie Sanduța, the author of the material titled “Dodon’s Money in the Bahamas”.

The Court’s judgment came after the Party of Socialists chair Igor Dodon and his party colleagues filed two similar actions in court, several days before the presidential elections in 2016. Meanwhile, Dodon became the country’s president, and Moldovan judges ruled in favor of the Party of Socialists. One of the reasons behind the decision of Moldovan judges was the fact that no state institution found that the Party of Socialists received suspicious funds from abroad. Thus, the RISE Moldova investigation was qualified as defamatory.

“Today’s judgment is a strong encouragement for Moldovan journalists and investigative reporters to do their job honestly and without fear of frequent pressure from corrupt politicians and intimidation from businessmen connected to public money. At the same time, today, the ECHR drew our attention to the fact that freedom of expression is above any hidden interests of politicians and that people have the right to information, the right to know the schemes and underpinnings of dirty business, revealed by journalists,” said Iurie Sanduța, quoted by RISE Moldova.

The ruling of the European Court of Human Rights provides for a compensation of 3,800 euros that the state will have to pay to the journalists from RISE Moldova for national courts having obstructed the freedom of expression of the press.

The journalistic investigation, published in September 2016, referred to a transaction through offshore zones with the involvement of the company Exclusiv Media, managed by the socialist MP Corneliu Furculiță. According to the investigation, over 30 million MDL were transferred through this company, and the money entered Moldova a few months before the presidential elections (30 October 2016). The transfer came through an offshore company connected to the Russian Federation and created in one of the tax havens – the Bahamas.

After the publication of the RISE Moldova material, the representatives of the Party of Socialists and of Exclusiv Media sued the journalists, invoking defamation and requesting denials. The two cases were examined separately and had a different fate. After the investigation of the money in the Bahamas, the owner of Exclusiv Media, Corneliu Furculiță, stated that all the transactions of the companies referred to in the article took place in accordance with national and international legislation.